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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Memo: The Billionaire’s Proposal by Melissa McClone

Memo: The Billionaire’s Proposal by Melissa McClone
Publisher: Harlequin
genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (192 pgs)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Note to self: when stepping back into your billionaire boss's world:

· Remember why you turned him down all those years ago: because infamous playboys like Drake Llewelyn are trouble with a capital T!

· He plays to win. You can't afford to take a gamble on love and lose, no matter how much he says he's changed.

· So arm yourself against his movie-star looks, devastating charm, intoxicating smile… Oh, no! This is going to be so much harder than I thought!

What is a woman to do when she faces falling in love all over again with a man she was barely strong enough to walk away from the first time? By getting him to fall in love with her too, that’s how.

That pretty much sums up the heroine’s dilemma in this book but it’s a pretty big one. Chaney is a career minded woman who started out interning for Drake’s company. She figured out that he wasn’t in the running for what she needed in a relationship and I liked how she kept her wits about her during those initial scenes. It also was a great foreshadowing about Drake’s character. Color the man confused.

Fast forward a few years and Memo: The Billionaire’s Proposal takes off with both Chaney and Drake older but not entirely wiser. Chaney has a family conflict that not only plays a part in bringing the couple closer but it dogs the heroine’s sense of self through a good portion of the story. I got glimpses and teases here and there until the author came right out and explained to Drake (and me!) about the reasons for that internal conflict, and I believe it made Chaney’s character pretty remarkable because of what she’s done with her life despite it all.

Chaney is a dreamer yet is pragmatic enough to deal with reality face to face without losing hope for her secret wishes. I liked her loyalty and the strong friendships she develops because of the kind of personality she has. There is a lot to like about her character and I agreed with her that a happily ever after is not something to give up on.

Drake on the other hand is a self-made man who has substituted helping others as a defense against the broken dreams from his youth. He truly is a dear man but he’s totally delusional when it comes to relationships. What I really enjoyed about Drake’s character is his propensity to rationalize everything to fit his structured ideals.

Slowly but surely, Chaney got under his skin and he found himself doing things that truly were romantic, considerate and special and yet he couldn’t face the real reason why he was going to the lengths he was. I could see it and I kept shaking my head at him. For all his money he was a scared little boy who was afraid to want things for himself. If that isn’t a great emotional hook to care for a character, I don’t know what is.

Secondary characters were not on stage to a huge degree but the author created some wonderful counterpoints to Drake and Chaney’s characters. They contributed to the movement of the plot and showcased the strengths and even the weaknesses of the hero and heroine.

The one thing I feel compelled to mention is that a reader can expect to see some editing errors peppering this story. Most didn’t bother me too much but there was a gender mix up in one paragraph that caused me to blink in surprise. After that, things got much smoother.

Memo: The Billionaire’s Proposal is an adorable story that is perfect for those times when all a reader wants is pure romance, something that reaches the emotions and dreams inside each of us. The growing love between Chaney, ever hopeful, and Drake, the reluctant, is a delight. I enjoyed their push-pull dialogue and the passionate kisses that take each of them by surprise. I liked the dreamy way Chaney views the hero when he is in his suit of armor and I thought it funny when Drake saw the heroine in the ocean for the first time. I knew he was a goner right then.

This book kept my interest and provided a very sweet and satisfying happily ever after and I’m very glad I read Memo: The Billionaire’s Proposal.

The Woman in Crimson by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

The Woman in Crimson by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Publisher: Eternal Press
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (256 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Bleeding Heart

Sometimes love lasts forever…but maybe it shouldn’t. Willowwind, a beautiful Civil War era bed and breakfast, is run by a loving couple, Adrian and Caroline Stone, but it’s also haunted by a long-dead Civil War era vampiress, Lilith, who believes the man, Adrian, is her reincarnated soldier/lover and will do anything to have him, body-heart-and soul, for her own again, no matter how many she must kill. But Adrian’s wife, Caroline, along with the help of the ghost of her dead father, will do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The element of suspense was present in every sentence. The relationship between the main character and his wife was well written. I believe the author wanted to make the reader not only understand that the couple had a close relationship, but to have the reader experience that relationship.

I absolutely love paranormal romance and this book definitely did a fine job of spooking me. After finishing this book, I actually had a hard time turning my back on a dark room. It was terrifically thrilling to experience! Mrs. Griffith can most certainly pull off scary. She described the people and places so clearly that are transported there. The plot was good and solid and I found myself thinking several times throughout the book that a situation such as this one did not seem farfetched at all. Mrs. Griffith did an excellent job of blending all of the elements in her book into a tight and solid story.

I gave this book a 4.5 book rating because there were a few places where I felt that conversation between the characters might have been misplaced or even unnecessary. It seemed strained or flat depending on what part of the story I was reading.

Overall, though this book was fantastic and I would suggest that anyone with an interest in the paranormal give this book a read. You won't be sorry.

Finally a Bride by Vickie McDonough

Finally a Bride by Vickie McDonough
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Genre: Historical, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Clover

Keep your eyes wide open for romance in Lookout, Texas. Noah Jeffers enters town determined to make up for past misdeeds. Reporter Jacqueline Davis is determined to nail her story. Will she uncover Noah’s secret before he can capture her heart? With nowhere else to go, ex-con Carly Payton returns to the Lookout boardinghouse. Garret Corbett is looking for an upstanding wife, not some jailbird. What will he do when overpowered by Carly’s unassuming appeal? Does love deserve a second look?

Jacqueline “Jack” Davis doesn’t need a man in her life. After years of suffering abuse at the hands of her biological father, Jack won’t allow herself to dream of a life filled with a husband and children. This is further demonstrated by Jack’s need to constantly fend off the amorous advances of local wild-child Billy Morgan, who is determined to make Jack his wife.

Jack’s goal is to get out of the idyllic town of Lookout and to become a reporter in Dallas. A story on the shady doings of the town mayor is sure to do it. But the arrival of new pastor, Noah Jeffers, soon alters Jack’s outlook on life. When an opportunity presents itself, can Jack really leave Noah and her family behind?

Noah Jeffers reluctantly accepts the position of interim pastor in Lookout. His past and present colliding, he looks to God for guidance. Noah has secrets—big ones—surrounding both Lookout and Jack. In Lookout, he seeks forgiveness and redemption from the past. But his immediate attraction to Jack threatens to derail his plans.

Carly Payton seeks acceptance and forgiveness from the people of Lookout. But her past may simply be too retched to forgive and forget. A former member of a violent gang, Carly had paid for her mistakes of the past by enduring a long prison sentence. Although she has found God and accepted Him into her life, Carly still travels a rocky road. The people of Lookout are not happy or accepting of an ex-convict into their town, especially when her arrival coincides with a spate of violent crimes.

But it isn’t long before Carly catches the eyes of bachelor Garrett Corbett. Garrett is anxious to finally find the right woman and start a family. But to Garrett, Carly doesn’t meet his expectations of a possible wife. People would talk, he knows. He doesn’t want to put himself or any future children at risk of a possible scandal. Still, a relationship with Carly feels right.

Finally a Bride is a heart-warming story of redemption, forgiveness, and finally, acceptance, in the face of adversity. It is chock full of lovely well-rounded characters that look to God for direction to reach their individual goals in life. A strong, uplifting plot keeps the reader reading to a satisfying conclusion. The growth of each of the main characters, especially Jack and Noah, is both profound and extremely satisfying. It hits its mark without coming off as preachy. This is a must-read for any fan of inspirational historical romance. Finally a Bride is a real gem.

Glad Tidings by Margo Hoornstra

Glad Tidings by Margo Hoornstra
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (146 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Larkspur

His twenty-fifth high school reunion leaves hard-driving hospital CEO Jake Holbrook feeling he’s missing something in life. So when a special woman from his past tumbles back into his life—and his bed—Jake is determined to keep her, even if it means recruiting her to work for him.

Family practice physician Bethany Thomas knows it’s a bad idea to sleep with her late husband’s best friend—even if he is the only man she’s ever loved. Recently widowed after twenty years of marriage to the wrong man and haunted by guilt over his death, Bethany isn’t looking for an entanglement. Especially not with her future boss.

Working together makes Jake and Bethany confront their clashing philosophies to patient care, and as the holidays approach, Bethany unknowingly betrays Jake. Now Jake’s job is on the line—can they overcome their lack of trust to find their own holiday miracle?

Starting over is never fun but Bethany Thomas believes she’s going to get it right this time. Jake Holbrook has loved Bethany for all of his life and now that she’s back in his life he never wants to let her go, but sometimes life gets in the way of love and love alone is rarely enough even when the two people involved are so right for each other.

Margo Hoornstra is an amazing storyteller which is apparent when she crams a full novel into 146 pages and does it so skilfully that her readers won’t feel one bit cheated by the small number of pages involved. She gives us great narrative that fits each and every character from her snobbish doctors and socialites to the smallest child in her cast.

Her plot is one that always speaks to my heart that of second chances and she gives her characters the maturity that matches their ages. Yes, her characters have a few miles under their belts, they’re not twenty or even thirty somethings trying to stumble their way into adulthood they are adults and act accordingly. Her hero Jake and heroine Bethy are so well developed that by the second or third chapter she’s intimated them to her readers so well we feel we know them. They literally shine the whole way through the novel as they try, fail and try again for their so deserved Happy Ever After. Will they get it? Well you’ll have to read it for yourself, no spoilers allowed.

The romance is touching, melancholy and sweet and her readers will feel each emotion that her characters live through. Her love scenes are sensual and sexy, but full of sweet romance. All in all it’s one heck of a tale and even the staunchest of readers will feel their heart swell by the end of the read.

If you are a lover of second chance romances, of characters who are of a certain age of casts that have meaningful and important careers and yet speak to the common person, or if you like me are just a born romantic and need a feel good tale than look no farther than this wonderfully scripted tale.

Kudos to you Ms. Hoornstra for one incredible romantic ride.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blink by Sandra Sookoo

Blink by Sandra Sookoo
Publisher: Eirelander Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (76 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Which man is her destiny? Charlotte Jackson knows everything about her small portion of the galaxy but nothing about the secrets of her heart.

Her life is as unstable as a supernova when her ship—the Copernicus—is visited by a blue-haired alien who calls himself Garreth. He tells her he’d like to build an alliance with Earth to improve the dire problems of both their planets. As if intergalactic space negotiations weren’t complicated enough, Charlotte finds herself more than a little attracted to the man who she should be thinking about in only the most professional terms. This does nothing to make her second-in-command—and would-be lover Jax—any more relaxed about the whole cooperation.

When her ship is attacked by the very beings Garreth wants to save them from, Charlotte and Jax will have to put their feelings for the blue-haired alien aside and focus on saving not only themselves but the entire galaxy. What the three find at the end could be the most valuable commodity of all.

Jax has patiently tried to win Charlotte’s affection for years. Will his efforts be rewarded or will Garreth sweep Charlotte off her feet?

Charlotte was a very well developed character. She was a blend of strength and vulnerability, and I found it very easy to like her. Charlotte has found herself in command of the Copernicus, but it isn’t a life she has chosen. Her father has pushed her into a career that she feels ill-suited for. Charlotte is constantly haunted by the thought that her best might not be good enough. Despite being uncomfortable with her command, she genuinely cares about her ship, the crew, and their mission. I admired her determination. However, in her determination to prove that she’s a capable leader, she has closed off her personal life completely. She knows that Jax has feelings for her, but she keeps him at arm’s length and buries her own feelings for him. Watching Charlotte struggle with her feelings was frustrating at times. One minute she and Jax would be on the verge of a breakthrough in their relationship and the next minute Charlotte would be pushing him away insisting that she was in command of the ship. Then Garreth entered the picture.

Ms. Sookoo did an excellent job of presenting both Jax and Garreth as love interests for Charlotte. Jax has been in love with Charlotte almost from the moment he first saw her. However, he respects her feelings and hesitation to become involved with him. His patience was very admirable and made him a very likable character. I was secretly hoping Charlotte would choose him. However, I also thought Garreth was appealing in his own way. Garreth is a Daridian. Daridians are a highly intelligent race that repress emotions. They reminded me of the Vulcan race in Star Trek.

When Garreth meets Charlotte he is immediately taken with her. It was very interesting watching him learn to cope with the variety of new emotions that Charlotte inspired in him. However, Garreth isn’t nearly as patient as Jax. Garreth offers Charlotte the chance to leave her former life behind and start a new one with him. Garreth’s offer is made even more tempting because it presents Charlotte with the opportunity to escape the pressure of her currently situation. I have often read stories in which the heroine was presented with two men to choose from. Usually it is pretty clear early on in the story who the heroine will choose. However, Ms. Sookoo kept things interesting throughout the story by presenting the benefits of choosing either man. I really didn’t know who Charlotte would choose until the story was nearly over.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about Blink was that I felt it was very accessible even to people who don’t normally read science fiction. Even though there were two different alien species contained in the story, Ms. Sookoo described them and their society’s so well that it was easy to picture them. This is not a small feat, especially since she accomplished this within the limited space of a shorter story.

I really enjoyed reading Blink. The characters were interesting, and the romantic dilemma Charlotte faced was compelling. I recommend it to fans of romantic science fiction, or anyone looking to try out the genre for the first time.

Purrfect Voyage by Ruth J. Hartman

Purrfect Voyage by Ruth J. Hartman
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (132 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Aloe

Kitty Carter is used to getting into strange situations when she chases her cat, Arthur. But this latest escapade is just too much! When Arthur chases a mouse at the marina while she's doing research for her book, she follows him down the dock and onto a yacht. Not entirely her plan, since she falls down some stairs and hits her head, and wakes to find herself out to sea. And she and Arthur aren’t the only ones on board!

She was just trying to catch Arthur, she never meant to fall down the steps and knock herself out…

This author must own cats herself. She understands all too well feline wiles and how they can manipulate you. Ms. Hartman also has a sense of humor. It makes her story fun to read.

Her characters are both busy people who live alone. He’s married to his work; she was jilted at the altar. When they meet in the galley of the boat after her fall, neither one is looking forward to spending two weeks together. Unfortunately they are well at sea by the time she wakes up and he has to deliver the boat to Hawaii within a certain time frame. She decides leaving Alaska behind to spend some time in the sun in Hawaii might not be a bad thing.

Ms. Hartman names the cat Arthur. The male character is also an Arthur, which creates some comic confusion. When he suggests they call the cat “kitty”, she objects because her name is Kitty! There are several other scenes that will make you smile as they try to adjust to each other. It’s especially hard because he doesn’t like cats…

The story is well paced and keeps your interest. It’s fun to watch the characters try to avoid the attraction between them. The author drew me into her story easily and I enjoyed watching the antics of the cat and the people both. I found this to be a very good read, why not get yourself a copy and try it?

A Forever Kind of Love by Shiloh Walker

A Forever Kind of Love by Shiloh Walker
Publishing: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (81 Pages)
Heat Rating: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Canterbury Bell

You can always come home. Second chances come a little harder.

Chase and Zoe were the high school golden couple. Football captain, cheerleader, prom royalty. After graduation, though, Chase couldn’t resist the urge to experience life outside their small town. He didn’t exactly expect Zoe to wait twelve years for him, but now that he’s back, he finds some small part of him hoping she did.

It’s no big surprise she’s married. The kick in the face is she married his best friend.

Zoe was devastated when Chase left, but she’s filed those bittersweet memories under “Moved On”. She loves her life, and loves her husband. She has all she needs. And Chase keeps an honorable distance.

One cold, wet, miserable day, tragedy turns Zoe’s world upside down. Chase never expected her to simply fall into his arms, but a man can dream. Except his dream doesn’t include the fact that this time, she’s the one hitting the road…and he’s the one left behind.

I must admit from the onset that I am not a crier. I do not cry at weddings, Hallmark commercials, or Lifetime movies but most important for you to know is that I do not cry when I read a book.

Zoe and Chase were the typical high school sweethearts, the football player in love with the cheerleader. Chase felt the confines of living in a small town and took off on his own leaving Zoe behind to pick up the pieces of her heart. Chase’s best friend Roger steps in and tries to sooth her broken heart. Fifteen years later when they are married, in love and enjoying the life they built, here comes Chase, still in love with Zoe and looking to pick up where they left off.

Disaster strikes Zoe and Roger and life as they know it is over. Knowing Chase always loved his wife and she never got over him, Roger puts them in the position of regaining what they lost so many years ago.

As I stated in the beginning I am not a crier but several parts of this story struck me where no other book has ever been able to. The quiet and private moments between Zoe and her husband are compelling, poignant, emotionally draining and heartbreaking. Zoe is me and you, an everyday woman just going through life until the universe looks down and throws a curve ball. Chase is the high school hero turned everyday man cursing the choices he has made in the past and living with the unexpected consequences. The author is able to pull you into their lives and their hearts and keep you there until the very end.

Shiloh Walker is renowned for her paranormal stories of vampires, tough women and steamy, sexy heroes. She has taken a step to the left with this novella and has once again proven what an incredible and diverse author she truly is. She has taken lost love romance and given it a new spin.

It is a new experience for me to read through blurry, teary eyes. If you love a great romantic story and a good cry, do not, I repeat, do not miss this!!! Just have a big box of tissues handy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fight or Flight by Natalie J. Damschroder

Fight or Flight by Natalie J. Damschroder
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (245 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Poppy

Eighteen years ago, a group of men killed Regan Miller's boyfriend and tried to kidnap her daughter, Kelsey. Since then they have lived in hiding, always vigilant and never getting close to anyone.

When Kelsey goes away to college, Regan finally begins to relax. She even starts to think she can have a real relationship, perhaps with her flirtatious neighbor, Tyler Sloane. Then Regan is attacked again.

Desperate to get to her daughter, Regan accepts Tyler's help—despite her suspicions about him. She knows nothing about Tyler but he knows a shocking amount about her past. Tyler can't tell her what he knows or who he works for, but he insists she can't face her enemies without him. Tired of living in fear, Regan is ready to take the offensive, with Tyler by her side. But is she relying too much on a man she can't trust—and falling for him, too?

Is it paranoia if people really are out to get you?

Regan Miller is letting go of her daughter in a way most parents do: she's sending her to college. There's a difference, though. Regan's daughter Kelsey was almost kidnapped as a baby, and her boyfriend (Kelsey's father) was murdered, so Regan did what any mother would do: changed her name and went into hiding. She also practiced being incredibly paranoid, took self-defense, and used every precaution available to keep the two of them safe.

There haven't been threats since Kelsey was a baby, though, so Regan feels at least moderately okay about letter her go... right up until her house is broken into and she's nearly killed.

Let me tell you one thing about this book: it's absolutely incredible. It's one of those books where there are times when nothing much is happening, but there's a constant feeling of fear that permeates every page, even when it doesn't seem like there's a reason to. That may just have been Regan's feelings being absorbed by me through osmosis, but even when she was home alone, weeks after dropping off Kelsey and doing something as commonplace as having her man friend over for dinner, I was tense.

Turns out it was for good reason, because when the bad guys come after Regan and Kelsey, it's a "no holds barred, watch out because they're around every corner and always a step ahead of you" kind of book. Just writing this review is making my heart pound all over again.

Even better? We don't know if we're supposed to trust the hero or not. It feels like he's trustworthy, and he seems to be helping, but Tyler is clearly hiding something.

Toss in Kelsey's devoted and stubborn boyfriend, her fun and bullheaded roommate (who's a terror with a hockey stick) and you have one heck of a group of good guys to root for while they run for their lives from a whole pile of people who never give up.

Regan's an amazing woman. Smart, capable, strong, and incredibly loyal. She's raised an equally amazing daughter who's one blind spot is her boyfriend, Tom, who would probably be safer if he'd just let her go. Neither one is prepared to make that sacrifice, however, and it's just as well because the bad guys know who each and every one of them are.

I really sympathized with Regan. She's spent her life afraid and is terrified to let her guard down, even for a moment. The one time she does, she pays for it and is determined that will never happen again. But she can't seem to protect Kelsey on her own this time, and has to let people in, at least a little. And, in Tyler's case, it's more than a little even though she suspects he might not be everything he seems to be.

Tyler is so conflicted. You know there's stuff going on inside his head that you can't see -- we don't get his POV in this story, it's all Regan and Kelsey -- but he's such a caring guy, you want him to be okay. And you understand when Regan starts to give in to those feelings he evokes in her. Who wouldn't?

Still, we don't know who to trust. Every time it seems as though they can take a breather, they're found out. How is that possible if it's not an inside job?

Grab a copy of this book and then sweat, worry, and fall in love with Regan and Kelsey. Fight or Flight should come with a warning, though: do not read if you have heart problems. Because this book absolutely gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing and once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

If this is the quality of writing and plotting I can expect from author Natalie J. Damschroder, then she's going to become an auto-buy author for me. Well done.

Playdate by Thelma Adams

Playdate by Thelma Adams
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (291 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Inside their picture-perfect homes, the residents of this quiet California suburb are not at all what they seem.

Lance is a former weatherman, now a buff yogi, stay-athome dad, and manager of his daughter’s Girl Scout troop’s cookie distribution. Belle is his precocious and quick-witted daughter. Darlene is a classic Type A work-a-holic, she has little time or patience for the needs of her husband and daughter

And just down the street are Alec and Wren. Alec, a womanizing businessman, is also the financial backer—and sometimes more—behind Darlene’s burgeoning empire. Meanwhile, Wren is a doting mother and talented yogi, ready to lay down the mat for a quick session with Lance.

As looming Santa Ana winds threaten to turn brushfires into catastrophe; Playdate proves that relationships are complicated and the bonds between families, spouses and children are never quite what they seem. What happens next door, beyond the hedges, in the romper room and executive office—it’s all as combustible as a quick brushfire on a windy day.

Forthright, funny in places, and at times frightening both emotionally and physically, Playdate is a subtly disquieting domestic drama that lures the reader into Encinitas on the Pacific coast where life has a materialist, status symbols culture and monogamy is not a prized concept. The Ramseys, Lance, Darlene, and Belle, newcomers from Barstow, are awash with new experiences in this upscale community.

Darlene, in her element in Encinitas, gives little thought to how her husband and daughter are coping. Darlene glows with vitality and restless energy as she and her new partner Alec Marker work long hours before the grand opening of their new restaurant, an upscale place modeled after her little café in Barstow. Totally wrapped up in herself, she has limited time with her family.

Lance had been the weatherman in Barstow, not a high paying job but it fit his life style. He had prestige and a sense of being part of the community. A go-with-the-flow person, he has a quiet harmony with their daughter Belle, a harmony that Darlene could never find. Unable to find a job in Encinitas, Lance becomes a stay-at-home dad (he appreciates the title “househusband” about as much as a woman appreciates “housewife”). Like Belle who has lost her place in the children’s culture, he has lost his place in the culture of men who are valued and identified by their job, career, or profession. They both feel like they are at the bottom of the food chain. As he and Belle cope with changes, their witty, inside- type exchanges make the story sparkle with that very special connection they have.

The Ramseys, once a tight-knit unit of love, find their closeness coming unraveled. They flounder. Belle must deal with the rich, powerful bully girl Jade and with her despicable teacher who devalues her and her giftedness. Darlene learns her partner Alec is a user and she wants back her connection with her husband and daughter that she let slip away in her zeal to reach her materialist, egoistic dreams. Lance, in his new environment that is made up of mothers, children, and household managing, connects with Wren, Alec’s Marker’s wife. He works as a volunteer at school and with Girl Scouts. His life reminds one of something seen in “Desperate Housewives”.

Several secondary characters interact with the main characters to propel the story along. Wren Marker is the most complex and interesting. She and eleven-year-old Belle have sub plots of their own that touch the heart.

Thelma Adams has a remarkable writing style that is full of wonderful imagery, thought provoking metaphors, and descriptions that bring the setting and action to life. Her ability to weave in the back stories that influenced the main characters personalities, the influence of the Santa Ana winds, and different ethnic cultures makes a tantalizing tale. She holds modern society and its values up to a bright light for the reader to examine. Her style is witty, entertaining, insightful, and accepting of humans and their foibles. She weaves in a muted undercurrent that reminds the reader of what is truly worthwhile in life and how it can slip away if not nurtured.

Playdate is hard to put down once started. I stayed up late and was rewarded with a happy-ever-after that looked impossible for much of the story.