by Patricia Gaffney

July 2003
ISBN: 0-06-103144-5
Reviewer Graphic Button Harper Collins
Mass Market Paperback

Anna is betrayed by her lover, Jay, in the most up close and personal way. She has been betrayed before by her Aunt Rose sixteen years ago as her mother, Rose's sister, lay dying. Anna has moved on and made her own life, but she has not forgotten or forgiven her aunt. Despite this, Anna decides to go home to the Eastern Shore of Maryland with the excuse of fixing up the family home for sale. She forms an uneasy truce with Rose and agrees to stay through the summer to help Rose with the her restaurant, Bella Sorella, which is struggling to stay in business.

Bella Sorella has a "family" of its own with employees whose personal lives and issues affect the restaurant. When Anna brings in Frankie, an excellent chef with serious issues of her own, values and tempers clash. Anna also must deal with her own issues after meeting Mason, a photographer, who is physically as well as emotionally scarred. Rose is dealing with the steady degeneration of her long time lover, Theo, who is also Mason's step-father.

Ms. Gaffney has written a novel that has engaging multi-dimensional characters. The secondary ones are just as well defined as the main characters and this makes for a rich, compelling read. The story is very detailed, but still flows smoothly. We are shown the characters "warts and all" and feel we would recognize them on the street by the novel's end.

This is a story of second chances and the need for forgiveness, which is often hard to give and receive. It is also a story of love on many levels: between family, friends and men and women. The love scenes are subtle and work well with the tone of the plot. It is a story of loyalty, which sometimes runs deeper than even love, but is too often in short supply these days. Ms. Gaffney has added another wonderful, satisfying book to her body of work.

Reviewed in August 2003 by Roberta.

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