Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Great stories for summer reading

Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green

Kirkus Reviews –

Married Bay Area woman tries to overcome a fraught relationship with her troubled teenage stepdaughter. Mr. Right can come with big-time baggage, and that is certainly the case for interior designer Andi. Already in her late 30s when she meets and falls for divorced dad Ethan, Andi wants nothing more than to start a family of her own with him. A doting father to his two young daughters, Sophia and Emily, Ethan shares custody of them with his ex-wife Janice, a bitter, unreliable alcoholic. Sophia, ten year's old when the story begins, adores her cool new stepmom, but 17-year-old goth princess Emily is a different story. A master of manipulation and histrionics, Emily sees Andi as a major threat in a battle for Ethan's love. She manages to twist her overly permissive dad around her little finger--to Andi's dismay--and acts out by experimenting with drugs and sex. Struggling with fertility issues, Andi is secretly thrilled, though, when Emily is revealed to be 7 months pregnant from one of her random hookups. Hoping that Emily will give the child to her and Ethan, she is then crushed when Ethan insists Emily give it up for adoption. Emily has other plans, of course, and gives birth to a healthy boy, Callum. But motherhood turns out to be more than she can handle, and she runs off to Portland. Andi is left to raise Cal as her own for three happy years, knowing in the back of her mind that Emily might someday return. Away from home, Emily gets a job on an organic farm and manages to clean up her act. She also repairs her relationship with Janice, who has stopped drinking, and reconnects with her childhood pal Michael, who has grown into quite a hunk. The two of them decide to move back to Mill Valley, with Emily insisting to an ecstatic Ethan and a skeptical Andi that she only wants to be a part of Cal's life. But does she mean it, and has she really changed? Green (Promises to Keep, 2010, etc.) ramps up the emotional stakes by presenting both Andi and Emily's points of view, even as her prose is a bit on the dull and repetitive side. Topical family melodrama.

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Kirkus Reviews –

A little romance and a little magic make for a surprising page-turner as a glass artist falls for a vintner on an island in the Puget Sound. It comes as quite a shock when Kevin tells Lucy their relationship is over. It's even worse when he tells her she needs to quickly move out as his new girlfriend will be moving in. And then devastating when he confesses that the new girlfriend is her younger sister Alice. Criminal, but all of a piece--ever since a childhood bout of meningitis left her fragile, Alice has always gotten her way; her parents spoiled her into a beautiful, unbearable young woman. Reeling from the news, Lucy takes a walk on the beach and runs into Sam Nolan, a handsome, rakish grape grower and confirmed bachelor. The two strike up a saucy friendship, but agree that anything more would be disastrous given Lucy's recent breakup and Sam's admittedly cynical perspective on all things love. Sam's romantic skepticism has deep roots: his parents were the town drunks, raging and embarrassing to their four children, creating in each a fatalism that encourages superficial relationships. The exception is Holly, Sam's niece who he and his brother Mark are raising after the death of their sister. The three live in a rambling Victorian attached to Sam's vineyard and soon enough (due to an accident that leaves her leg temporarily immobile) Lucy moves in. They both resist the sexual energy, but then confess their deepest secrets: Lucy can convert glass into living things (like fireflies) and Sam can will plants to grow. Will Sam admit he's in love with Lucy? Will Kevin and Alice really marry? Will Lucy take the art grant in New York or stay pining for Sam? Happily, everyone gets exactly what they deserve. Strengthened by characters with depth and something interesting to say, this winning first installment in a trilogy is sure to thrill fans of modern romantic fiction.

Redwood Bend (Virgin River Series #16) by Robyn Carr

Overview –

Katie Malone and her twin boys' trip along the beautiful mountain roads to Virgin River is stopped short by a tire as flat as her failed romance. To make matters worse, the rain has set in, the boys are hungry and Katie is having trouble putting on a spare. As she stands at the side of the road pondering her next move, she hears a distinct rumble. The sight of the sexy, leather-clad bikers who pull up beside her puts her imagination into overdrive.

Dylan Childress and his buddies are on the motorcycle trip of a lifetime. But the sight of a woman in distress stops them in their tracks. And while the guys are checking out her car, she and Dylan are checking out one another.

In one brief moment, the world tilts on its axis and any previous plans Katie and Dylan might have had for their futures are left at the side of the road.

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