by Nora Roberts

June 1997
ISBN: 0-373-23996-3
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Mass Market Paperback

Frederica Kimball loves Nick LeBeck. Words that a fourteen-year-old Freddie might well have scribbled on a school notebook surrounded by a heart and some flowers. For it was at the tender age of fourteen that Freddie first met Nick LeBeck - Nick's half brother married Rachel Stanislaski, Freddie's aunt. This kinda sorta makes them cousins but not really - the family relationships are complex to say the least. (Check out the family tree on the front flap - it's a huge help.)

Ten years have passed, and Freddie's schoolgirl crush transmutes into a deep and abiding love - all the more painful because Nick doesn't realize that Freddie's all grown up now, and although he's had a passing dream about her big lustrous eyes now and again, in typical male fashion he's written it off as an aberration.

This is a wonderful book that continues the saga of the Stanislaski family, but I have to admit that it is better to begin this story after having read the earlier novels. If you've met the dynamic Mik and Alex Stanislaski and their enchanting sisters, the character of Nick LeBeck is much more easily understood, and the brief explanation given here will suffice. For Nick is very much a tormented man, with a past he's doing his best to bury. Unfortunately it occasionally surfaces and directs his actions. He is a songwriter, and a successful one, but becomes even better when Freddie arrives with love in her heart and words in her head for Nick's melodies.

Freddie is centered, focused, stubborn, and beautiful and she works very hard to rock Nick's world to its foundations. She learns a lot about life, love and sheer determination as she chases her man, only to lose him after he catches her! Nick also learns about love, and trust, and some of the pain from his past spills over into his present, threatening all concerned. Nick was first introduced in The Stanislaski Sisters (Rachel), and the much more in-depth exploration of him as a youngster helps the reader understand Nick's attitudes and perspectives with regard to Freddie, love and commitment as shown here.

This is a terrific book for any fan of the Stanislaskis - if you haven't treated yourself to any of their stories yet, begin with the Stanislaski brothers, and you'll rapidly find you're hooked on the tales of this extraordinary family. Nora Roberts' skill in unfolding the lives of such special people is unparalleled - don't miss the chance to share in their lives, loves and adventures.

Reviewed in January 2002 by Celia.

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