ON MYSTIC LAKE

Hannah, after eight paperbacks, abandons her successful time-travelers for a hardcover life of kitchen-sink romance. Everyone must have got the Olympic Peninsula memo for this spring because, as of this reading, authors Hannah, Nora Roberts, and JoAnn Ross have all placed their newest romances in or near the Quinault rain forest. Here, 40ish Annie Colwater, returns to Washington State after her husband, high-powered Los Angeles lawyer Blake, tells her he’s found another (younger) woman and wants a divorce. Although a Stanford graduate, Annie has known only a life of perfect wifedom: matching Blake’s ties to his suits and cooking meals from Gourmet magazine. What is she to do with her shattered life? Well, she returns to dad’s house in the small town of Mystic, cuts off all her hair (for a different look), and goes to work as a nanny for lawman Nick Delacroix, whose wife has committed suicide, whose young daughter Izzy refuses to speak, and who himself has descended into despair and alcoholism. Annie spruces up Nick’s home on Mystic Lake and sends “Izzy-bear” back into speech mode. And, after Nick begins attending AA meetings, she and he become lovers. Still, when Annie learns that she’s pregnant not with Nick’s but with Blake’s child, she heads back to her empty life in the Malibu Colony. The baby arrives prematurely, and mean-spirited Blake doesn’t even stick around to support his wife. At this point, it’s perfectly clear to Annie—and the reader—that she’s justified in taking her newborn daughter and driving back north. Hannah’s characters indulge in so many stages of the weeps, from glassy eyes to flat-out sobs, that tear ducts are almost bound to stay dry. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild/Doubleday book club selections)

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-609-60249-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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Reid’s tome on married life is as uplifting as it is brutally honest—a must-read for anyone who is in (or hopes to be in) a...

AFTER I DO

An unhappily married couple spends a year apart in Reid’s (Forever, Interrupted, 2013) novel about second chances.

When we meet Lauren, she and her husband, Ryan, are having a meltdown trying to find their car in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium after a game. Through a series of flashbacks, Lauren reveals how the two of them went from being inseparable to being insufferable in each other’s eyes—and in desperate need of a break. Both their courtship and their fights seem so ordinary—they met in college; he doesn’t like Greek food—that the most heartbreaking part of their pending separation is deciding who will get custody of their good-natured dog. It’s not until Ryan moves out that the juicy details emerge. Lauren surreptitiously logs into his email one day, in a fit of missing him, and discovers a bunch of emails to her that he had saved but not sent. Liberated by Ryan’s candor, Lauren saves her replies for him to find, and the two of them read each other’s unfiltered thoughts as they go about their separate lives. Neither character holds anything back, which makes the healing process more complex, and more compelling, than simply getting revenge or getting one’s groove back. Meanwhile, as Lauren spends more time with her family and friends, she explores the example set for her by her parents and learns that there are many ways to be happy. It’s never clear until the final pages whether living alone will bring Lauren and Ryan back together or force them apart forever. But when the year is up, the resolution is neither sappy nor cynical; it’s arrived at after an honest assessment of what each partner can’t live with and can’t live without.

Reid’s tome on married life is as uplifting as it is brutally honest—a must-read for anyone who is in (or hopes to be in) a committed relationship.

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1284-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Washington Square/Pocket

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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THE REEF

With her happy balance of love, sex, and the supernatural, Roberts has become the fairy godmother of escapists and the queen of formula romance. Leaving the “Jones curse” of last spring’s Homeport, Roberts dives now into Anguelique’s Curse and the life of another ambitious career girl. It seems that Anguelique Maunoir was a 16-year-old healer who in 1533 was burned for witchcraft, but not before putting her double-whammy on the gold and bejeweled amulet her lover gave her before his own death. Now, Matthew Lassiter and his family of salvage divers have known nothing but bad luck since starting their search for the necklace. Matthew’s father was murdered by Silas VanDyke, another of this author’s sadly two-dimensional villains, while his uncle Buck lost a leg to a shark. Matthew, though, still hits pay dirt when he and Buck team up with Tate Beaumont and her loving parents to dive for a 16th-century Spanish ship off the coast of Nevis and St. Kitts. Young Tate is the logical, reasonable one of this pair of lovers, studying to become a marine archaeologist and dreaming of one day having her own museum; Matthew, on the other hand, is the stormy one who’s had a tougher row to hoe and now loves Tate’s mother’s home-cooked dinners. Yet, true to the familiar type of honorable ravishers and responsible rogues, he gives Tate up rather than see her drop out of school to follow a lowlife diver like himself. Eight years later, when no one seems particularly happy, the Beaumonts and Lassiters reunite to search for Anguelique’s Curse: Tate hopes to establish her professional credentials, Matthew to avenge his father’s death. After lots of salty sea and sex, as well as a short course in treasure hunting and marine salvage, the lovers will discover (no surprise) that their fortune is in each other. Clunky denouement aside, Roberts’s legion of fans will swarm to this.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-14441-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

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