Feb 9 2007
Dear Ms Steffen,
Despite your extensive backlist, I’ve never had the pleasure of reading one of your books. I think based on the characterization that I’ve been missing a lot by this and it’s something I’d like to rectify. While the book isn’t the offbeat/kooky romance I was expecting from the backblurb, it is refreshing in its own way.
Lila Delaney needs to get out of town and restart her life. All her life she’s had the ability to “see” and sense things that will happen. When her latest vision leads her to help the police find a missing heiress, her life implodes on national TV when the heiress is found, in bed, with Lila’s naked fiance. Needless to say, the wedding is called off.
Six months later, Lila finally gets the chance to escape all the late night comedians’ TV jokes at her expense when, in her will, an elderly woman leaves Lila a small farm in rural Virginia. Lila and Pepper, her best friend from college, head off to what Lila hopes will be seclusion and peace only to find themselves mixed up in even more problems. The caretaker of Lila’s new property turns out to be former pro baseball player Joe McCaffrey, home town boy made good who’s life crashed and burned when his wife disappeared. For two years, Joe’s been suspected of having done her in but since no body has ever been found, he can’t prove or disprove anything. Life sucks when you’re not sure that even your father and 13 year old daughter believe your innocence.
Yankees Lila and Pepper begin to settle in rural Virginia and discover the charms and drawbacks to living in a small Southern town. Everyone knows everything about everybody and usually within 15 minutes of the event happening. Or maybe that’s everybody thinks they know everything as the women soon pick up on underlying tensions which lead to secrets held for years. Are the mayor and his wife really as happy as they look? What happened to the wife of the town bully and did she really abandon her three young sons? Will trust-fund baby Pepper find love where she lest expects it doing a job her family finds appalling? And can Lila regain her slightly psychic abilities quickly enough to help find out who did what to Joe’s missing wife?
As I said earlier, this book is not what I expected. The back blurb leads one to believe it will be charming and slightly kooky story of heroine having psychic moments and solving crimes. Instead it’s a gently paced “finding themselves” novel. It has a nice feel that reminds me of lazy summer afternoons in the South. Nothing is rushed and you set up all the storylines with clues and descriptions. I thought Chloe was especially well drawn, with realistic 13 year old problems in addition to her father’s problems with her missing mother and her anguish that her mother left her. Joe acts like a “guy” who doesn’t want to discuss his feelings and who’s is much more comfortable doing things instead of talking about them.
And yet….perhaps three love stories is too many? We know what’s going on with them but there’s not enough book length to really flesh out all the problems and then fix them. After slowly setting up plotlines, the resolutions are too quick and easy (Katherine and Heath find such a quick way to solve the problem that’s brought their marriage to the brink, Lina and Joe quickly find Joe’s wife when police fruitlessly searched for her 2 years ago and barely any time spent on Pepper and her love interest). Plus there’s Lina’s psychic abilities (never really regained) and the three ladies doing their “women bonding under the moonlight” by dancing and drinking mint juleps.
The book is well written, has interesting and believable characters but there’s just too much crammed into one book. Really, there’re enough people and stories for 3 books here. I liked what I read but I wish it had all been expounded upon in more detail. B-