by Susan Mallery

July 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-77297-1
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Mass Market Paperback

Piano prodigy Claire Keyes has been estranged from her family ever since she was a little girl. When she receives a phone call from her younger sister, Jesse, asking her to come home to take care of Nicole, Claire’s fraternal twin, Claire jumps at the chance. Jesse tells Claire that Nicole is having surgery and needs someone to take care of her, and that she wants to make amends. Claire is excited and nervous about the chance to reunite with her sisters and she is anxious to get away from a career that is making her unhappy and sick. She heads off to Seattle only to discover a very hard truth: Nicole wants nothing to do with her famous sister. In fact, she wants her gone.

But Claire is not going anywhere. She wants to be a family again, she wants to get to know Nicole and she is not going to let Nicole’s mean comments drive her away. Claire may not know how to do her own laundry, to cook anything at all, but she has a good heart and she wants to help. But the clashes keep coming, not only with Nicole, but with Wyatt Knight, Nicole’s brother-in-law. He is determined to see Claire as an egotist of the highest order, even as the attraction between them sparks. Claire has come home to repair her relationship with her sisters, but she may find herself longing to stay for another reason entirely.

This story is at first difficult to read because frankly, the characters are really, really mean to Claire. Callous and almost too cruel at times. Claire did not have much of a backbone at first so she just seemed to sit back and take it. Fortunately, Claire finally starts to build up her confidence and self-esteem as the story goes on and her characterization takes a turn for the better. These relationships are not easy ones. Claire has been out of contact with her family for years, despite attempts on her part to rebuild those relationships. She is struggling with family issues at the same time that a blinding attraction hits her.

While Claire’s character seems a tad unbelievable at times (the extremes of her social awkwardness, her inability to do the simplest of chores, and her virgin status), I found myself liking her anyway. She has not led an easy life. She has been very lonely and this story is her awakening, both of her music and her personal relationships. As Claire develops, this story gets better and better, even though I wanted to smack Wyatt a time or two. However, Sweet Talk proves to be engaging and delicate contemporary romance. Family bliss does not come without its bumps in the road as Susan Mallery proves.

Reviewed in June 2008 by Sarah.

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