FOR LOVE

Here, the author of Family Pictures (1990), etc., graces us with nothing less than a disputation on the nature of love—from whence, at least in Miller's world, all other emotions (and a great deal of often extreme behavior) come. This time out, her extraordinarily intelligent, if agonized, protagonist is Charlotte Reed, a nonfiction writer and divorcee with a grown son, Ryan, and new husband, Jack, a widowed oncologist. But as the story begins, Charlotte's left Jack, presumably to get her aging mother's Cambridge home in shape to be sold—since her brother, Cam, has put their mother in a home. Charlotte's other reason for flying the coop is that she doesn't think she can hack the new marriage: Jack's teenaged daughter is a pain, and Jack himself seems unable to stop grieving for his first wife. And her real reason, she comes to understand, has to do with being afraid that she doesn't love Jack the way she used to. She yearns for a kind of wild, romantic love, and sees it in the way her brother behaves with his new flame, Elizabeth, a neighbor in Cambridge. Elizabeth has returned home because her husband is playing around. She starts doing so, too, with Cam, though for him the relationship is less a fling than an expression of his unbalanced approach to life. Tragedy strikes in the form of an accident that kills Elizabeth's au pair girl, with Cam behind the wheel. Her death sets Charlotte off on an intense emotional hegira, which eventually leads her back to Jack and a different kind of love—a love that has as much loss in it as passion. Seared by several extraordinary arguments—between Lottie and Cam and others—and by a handful of characterizations so full that they suggest whole novels revolving around Miller's secondaries. Miller's special brand of intelligent emotionalism reaches its zenith here: it's deep, resonant, splendid.

Pub Date: April 21, 1993

ISBN: 0060929995

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

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SANCTUARY

Roberts is the perfect perpetual-romance machine. She churns out an almost inhuman number each year; she meets an annual March deadline for her hardcovers (this one even has the same number of pages as last year's bestselling Montana Sky). And each is lively, sexy, and well researched. Her latest concerns three siblings (the Hathaways) who find lovers and strained relationships while a homicidal madman is threatening their safety. The three live in a beautiful white gothic on the Georgia Sea Island of Lost Desire, which they've turned into an inn. Brian, the eldest—tall, cute, and morose—runs the establishment and is chef of its five-star kitchen. (His father Sam can't understand how a man can enjoy creating a perfect meringue and still prefer women for sex.) Brian fights halfheartedly against the amorous advances of Kirby, the pretty Yankee doctor who runs the island's clinic; the two eventually end up locked in an embrace against her refrigerator door. Meanwhile, the youngest sib, Alexa Hathaway—sexy Lexy, the island princess with the gypsy hair—has failed at acting in New York and come home to waitress and throw a few tantrums. She fights halfheartedly against the honorable intentions of childhood buddy Gift Verdon, who's good with his hands and doesn't let her get away with much. Finally, there is Jo Ellen, a world-famous photographer who's returned to Desire after a nervous breakdown and is fighting a losing battle against empathic architect Nathan Delaney. Twenty years earlier, the Hathaways' mother, Annabelle, had disappeared, abandoning her family—or so it seemed. Now someone is stalking the family, having even sent Jo Ellen a picture of her mother, dead and naked. As usual, the romance is better than the weird violence. There's not much suspense here, but it's good to see that heroines are becoming gutsier and heroes better in the kitchen.

Pub Date: March 17, 1997

ISBN: 0-399-14240-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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A smooth blend of suspense and romance. As ever, the author's trademark effortless style keeps a complex plot moving without...

THE VILLA

Megaselling Roberts (River's End, 1999, etc.) goes to Napa Valley for the tale of an Italian-American family wine producers rocked by scandal and a series of murders.

Dynasty head Tereza Giambelli knows that her granddaughter Sophia is the only family member capable of running a multimillion-dollar wine business—and no one contradicts La Signora. It's just as well the lovely young woman is still single: Tereza has plans for her. The matriarch has recently married Eli MacMillan, the American founder of another famous wine company. Eli's grandson Tyler knows everything there is to know about producing wine, from the vineyard to the vat. Ruggedly handsome, intelligent and earthy, he's a perfect match for public-relations whiz Sophia—or so thinks Tereza. The two young people begin to work together; Tyler teaches Sophia the fine art of making wine and making love. But other family members hope to claim their share of the Giambelli fortune, and people start dying mysteriously, including Sophia's good-for-nothing father, Tony Avano. Long divorced from long-suffering Pilar Giambelli, Tony led an opulent, self-indulgent life that provides plenty of murder suspects. He might have been killed by the mob, or a jealous mistress, or his spoiled brother-in-law, Tereza's lazy son, who's produced a passel of brats with his foolish Italian wife in the hopes of making Tereza happy. Everyone has a motive, and nothing is what it seems, Sophia discovers, but Tyler stands by her. Then a bottle of tainted merlot kills a company exec. A tragic mishap caused by poisonous plants growing near the vines? Or deliberate product tampering intended to destroy the company? Sophia and Tyler will need to delve even deeper into the convoluted and sometimes unsavory history of the family and its three-generation business.

A smooth blend of suspense and romance. As ever, the author's trademark effortless style keeps a complex plot moving without a hitch.

Pub Date: March 19, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14712-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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