A wealthy widow’s search for love leads to a voyage of self-discovery and a plethora of complications in this debut novel.
Mallory Hill is a businesswoman who’s experienced a lifetime’s worth of achievement and heartbreaking loss. Born in America, she relocated to Europe, where she built a successful company with her second husband. They sold the company to travel around the world, but he died while they were in Hong Kong. She now divides her time between London and Cannes, France, and dates Michael Graham, a married man who says he will never leave his wife. For her 50th birthday, she treats herself to 10 days at the Chiva Som spa in Thailand. While there, she meets Brad Miller, a retired Canadian businessman, who shares her passion for travel. Mallory is besotted with Brad and thinks he may be “Husband Number Three,” but their romance will have to wait until he returns from Nepal. In the meantime, Mallory ends her relationship with Michael and moves to Cannes, where she will reunite with Brad. While she waits for Brad to contact her, Mallory amuses herself by accepting dates with several eligible bachelors, including Derek Dearing, a paunchy older man, and Dandridge Larkin, a dashing, ambitious producer. Soon Brad’s unusual behavior and a series of broken promises cause her to question if there’s more to him than meets the eye. Arkus’ book presents an engaging, briskly paced tale of a woman’s quest for love and fulfillment that’s bolstered by a large cast of characters and a wicked sense of humor. Mallory is a winsome heroine whose gregarious and adventurous personality attracts a wide range of friends and potential suitors. Her desire for true love is the story’s emotional center and the source of the novel’s most humorous moments, particularly a country-house encounter with a friend’s randy husband. Her relationship with Brad blossoms quickly, and his character is primarily developed through phone calls and a short visit by his brother, Sanford. The strong supporting characters include Mallory’s close friend Kate Handler, a confidante with an equally tumultuous romantic life, and Michael. That said, inconsistent editing sometimes slows the narrative’s momentum. For example, Mallory’s friend Colleen’s last name is given as both “O’Brien” and “O’Brian,” and the actress Brigitte Bardot is referred to as “Bridget Bardot.”
A breezy but uneven look at romance among the jet set.