by Stephanie Bond

August 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2484-3
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books
Trade Paperback

Carlotta Wren's life is entirely different from what she dreamed it would be when she was young. At the tender age of eighteen she was abandoned by her parents, who disappeared after her dad was accused of investment fraud. Carlotta is left to raise her younger brother instead of going on to college. Her dreams of marriage to rich, handsome Peter Ashford are dashed when he breaks the engagement in light of the horrific scandal. Carlotta uses her wits and determination as she works hard at Neiman-Marcus and tries to keep her brother out of trouble. That is no easy task as her brother Wesley has many issues including a serious gambling addiction. This addiction has brought very mean loan sharks into their lives. As if things weren't already bad enough, Carlotta gets a phone call from her fugitive dad and someone seems to have stolen her identity. The identity thief ends up dead and it is unclear if suicide or murder is the cause of death.

Carlotta has almost too much help from the men in her life in getting things sorted out. Her former fiancÚ' is making overtures for a reconciliation, a hottie cop wants to get to know Carlotta better as he investigates her quirky family and her brother's boss, a body mover, seems to want to put different sorts of moves on Carlotta.

This is the second novel in a series that has all the makings of a sure-fire hit for the author. The prologue and early part of the novel will bring the reader up to speed, but why skip the fun of the first book? Both books have Stephanie Bond's trademark humor and plenty of spicy romance. Carlotta is an admirable protagonist who does not wallow in despair even when times are tough. Ms. Bond brings all the character to life with clever, zippy dialog. I wanted to throttle brother Wesley, which is further evidence that the writer has done a fabulous job of creating authentic characters.

The ending is left open and I will have to impatiently wait for the next book in the series to be released in 2008. In the meantime, I can satisfy myself by reading earlier books by Stephanie Bond that I missed.

Reviewed in July 2007 by Roberta.

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