by Pamela Morsi

July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2729-5
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books
Trade Paperback

Red Cullens may be forty-six, but her lush red hair and petite figure still turn heads as she runs her San Antonio bar, Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar. Her life is turned upside down after a phone call. Her daughter Bridge, who is serving in the military overseas, tells Red she needs to take over the care of Bridge's two children. Through a series of events the two children, Olivia, nine, and Daniel, six, have no other caretakers available. Red has not been close to her daughter or grandchildren in recent times and, though she loves them, she literally does not have room for the two children in the small apartment above her bar. There is also the problem of her current, much younger boyfriend, Cam, who does not know that she has a daughter, much less grandchildren. Will this development send him packing or should Red cut him loose as she has so many other men in her past?

Cam is a much more steadfast man than Red ever realized and he truly becomes a "knight in shining armor" as they navigate the everyday needs of the children. He and Red are both able to let down their guards and share more of the past that has shaped them and make decisions about the future. Even though Bridge is supposed to be home by Christmas, Red must establish a relationship with the children. This may be tough with Daniel referring to her as "mala abuelo": bad grandma. Red faces decisions about her business as changes in San Antonio threaten its existence.

The author lovingly develops believable characters who face contemporary issues. As a baby boomer, I am encouraged to see more mature heroines who don't fit the typical pattern. Red is a tough, self-made woman who is still haunted by her past. Cam may be much younger, but he has his own serious issues to deal with and has true maturity. His love helps Red to face her demons.

The storyline is told in both narrative and a series of emails that Olivia sends to her mother. This adds an extra emotional twist in a tale that is bound to touch your heart. Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar is author Pamela Morsi's twenty-first novel and it is easy to she why see has had an enduring career. Her stories of love, loss and family resonate with readers on a universal level. I have read several of her recent books and been completely charmed. I look forward to more captivating novels from this talented writer in the future.

Reviewed in July 2009 by Roberta.

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