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Archive for November, 2009

Social Lives

By Wendy Walker

St. Martin’s Press – September 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Lives-Wendy-Walker/dp/0312378165

 

When Wendy Walker’s Social Lives, a story about the trials and tribulations of three families in an exclusive Connecticut suburb, came my way for review, a part of me was prepared not to like it. Call it good, old-fashioned jealousy; I have a tough time feeling sorry for the ultra-rich. But despite my misgivings, with each turn of the page I found myself more deeply immersed in the lives and troubles of these characters.

Rosalyn Barlow has the most coveted social position in Wilshire. With her handsome billionaire husband and her multimillion-dollar estate, Rosalyn has made it her life’s work to know the right people, chair the best committees, and throw the perfect parties. In Rosalyn’s world appearances are everything. Little do the people of Wilshire know of the threads of turmoil that run through the Barlow family tapestry, threatening at any moment to unravel.

Jacqueline Halstead is one of Rosalyn’s closest friends. But when her husband’s bad investment decisions threaten to destroy the home she has created for her children, the ghosts of her dysfunctional childhood arise, throwing “Jacks” into survival mode. She devises a plan to save her family at all costs– even if it means bringing the Barlow family down.

The newest and youngest member of Rosalyn’s circle of friends, Sara Livingston just can’t seem to get anything right. From her clothes to her bright red mini van, every decision she makes seems to blow up in her face. With a house caught in restoration hell, a nanny who threatens to usurp Sara’s role as mother to her small daughter, and the strain of the devastating secret she keeps from her husband, Sara’s battered nerves cause her to look for friendship in all the wrong places.

I found the cast of characters in this novel to be absolutely delightful, with the secondary characters every bit as well drawn as the primary. From the Barlow’s angst filled and rebellious daughter, Caitlin, to Kelly, Jacks’ older and wiser sister, to Rosalyn, who lives in the lap of luxury and still manages to live in misery, Ms. Walker has nailed the complexities of human nature to a tee. Taking as its theme a collection of wealthy women in American suburbia, one might be tempted to think Social Lives is just another “love it and leave it” contemporary story. Not so. The author takes on some tough and important issues like teen sexuality, a friend’s betrayal, and marital infidelity. Kudos to Wendy Walker for handling them so powerfully and eloquently.

Reading this book, I found myself smiling one minute and wanting to cry the next. The story paints a brilliant picture of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and yet it shows clearly that wealth does not necessarily equate to happiness. Indeed, money can bring with it its own unique set of problems. But mostly, the story proves that women are women, sharing the same fears, joys, struggles and concerns no matter what their socioeconomic background.  I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys stories of women and their relationships.

— Honeybee

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bunco-babes-tell-allBunco Babes Tell All

Maria Geraci

Penguin/Berkley – May 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bunco-Babes-Tell-Maria-Geraci/dp/0425227588/

Author Site: http://www.MariaGeraci.com

 

Okay, I have to confess to never having heard of Bunco until I received Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Tell All for review. What fun! You don’t have to know the game to enjoy this delightful story filled with humor, warmth, hot romance, and the loyalty of long time friendships.The Babes of Whispering Bay, Florida have set aside every Thursday night for Bunco. A night when they can gather to roll the dice, eat great food, drink signature drinks, and share secrets—a night to let it all hang out and totally de-stress. Because ‘what happens at Bunco, stays at Bunco’.

Real estate broker Kitty Burke is living in her grandmother’s vintage home with the intention of making repairs before putting it on the market, as her mother wants. But Kitty’s secret wish is to buy the home for herself. Unfortunately, although the most successful broker in the area, Kitty has never managed her spending and the repairs are straining her financial resources. Add that to the slow market and she fears she’ll never have the money to make the down payment.

Of the twelve babes, only Kitty is still unmarried and at thirty-five she feels it’s time to let go of her idea of the perfect man. Eighteen years earlier Kitty fell in love with Kevin Costner’s character from Bull Durham, and she’s never met a man in reality who can measure up to that image. Then she meets Steve and that first meeting is anything but perfect. No woman wants to meet what may be the sexiest man ever while her panties are around her ankles and she’s squatting in the bushes to relieve herself. Once Kitty has overcome her embarrassment at being caught in such humiliating circumstances, she decides to do something totally out of character. She goes after substitute plumber, Steve, for a one-night stand.

With three failed marriages behind him and between jobs, Steve isn’t exactly great husband material, but then Kitty isn’t planning a wedding, she only wants great sex. But there’s a lot more to Steve than Kitty ever planned on. Will she be able to let go of her preconceived notions of the perfect man and grab hold of true love?

Ms. Geraci paints a fascinating portrait of small town life and its inhabitants in Bunco Babes Tell All. The characters are well drawn. Kitty’s best friends, Pilar and Shea, are everything you’d ever want your friends to be, even if they are a little too honest and drive you crazy at times. There’s enough intrigue surrounding our hero, Steve, to keep you turning the pages. The town of Whispering Bay is in an uproar over new beachfront condominium plans from an out of town developer and stuck in the middle is Kitty. Lovely, charming and real, I loved her from page one. This story is at time hilarious and at others, heartwarming and tender. The love scenes are just hot enough and tastefully done by the author.

Bunco Babes Tell All is a fast, lighthearted, feel good read perfect for busy readers. I truly enjoyed my time with the Babes and heartily recommend it to all. As a bonus, in the back of the book are tips for playing Bunco, setting up Bunco clubs, recipes, and an excerpt from Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Gone Wild. Enjoy!

 –Willow

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