Mira, Jan 2003, 6.50, 400 pp.
Though her beloved mother Irene suffers from early stages of Alzheimer's, award-winning chef Abbie DiAngelo feels life is good. The single mom is proud of her nine-year-old son Ben and her restaurant Campagne is the hottest spot in Princeton, New Jersey.
Her era of good feeling ends when her stepbrother Ian MacGregor reenters her life for the first time in almost three decades. He demands she give him $100K or he will provide evidence to the Palo Alto police that her mother killed her stepfather by having a fire set to their home. Abbie's counteroffer is 48K, which Ian accepts. However, his former partner Arturo Garcia arrives in town, seeking vengeance on Ian who betrayed him to the cops ten years ago. Arturo kills Ian. The police believe Abbie killed her brother, but Detective John Ryan, a single dad, thinks otherwise. As they fall in love while he conducts his homicide investigation, Abbie finds her life spin into something worse as someone she cherishes is kidnapped with only John willing to risk all to keep everyone safe.
This exciting romantic suspense picks up speed the moment Ian begins his extortion plot and never eases up until the final twist occurs. Though the kidnapping seems contrived, readers will enjoy the tension that the plot emits. Abbie is a wonderful lead protagonist whose courage to confront her foes will make her a fan darling. The support cast rounds out a strong plot even if Scott Rolen was traded during the last season from the Phillies.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner