Sunday, March 31, 2013

FAMILY AFFAIR by Debbie Macomber

Publisher:  Avon
Date published:  June 26, 2012
ISBN:  978-0-06-199713-6
Contemporary Romance
Reviewed by Lynne
Obtained via publisher.

Lacy Lancaster, after suffering through a painful divorce, moves to San Francisco.  Content to lay low for awhile, living alone with her beautiful Abyssinian cat, Cleo, she spends her days working and minding her own business.  However, her sexy neighbor, Jack Walker, frequently intrudes into her peaceful life, arguing loudly and continually with his girlfriend. 

But it isn’t until Jack’s cat, Dog, also invades her life that Lacy confronts her impossible neighbor with the news that Dog has gotten her cat in the family way.  Furious, she informs him that he must take responsibility for half the medical expenses, which, surprisingly, he doesn’t seem to mind doing.

Lacy is unaware that Jack has secretly set his sights on her since she moved in next door and is actually glad for this particular opening into her life.  She is also unaware that Jack has no girlfriend and that the woman he continually argues with is really his sister.

As the two join forces to care for the expectant cat, Lacey reluctantly begins to have feelings she had long thought dead and soon experiences the tender joy of falling head over heels in love...all over again.

FAMILY AFFAIR by Debbie Macomber is a delightful story.  Quick to pull the reader in, it keeps one turning pages right until the end. 

This was my first Macomber novel, and I found myself pleasantly surprised, wondering how I had missed this talented author for so long.  I was familiar with the name.  I just hadn’t read any of her work.  Yet after reading FAMILY AFFAIR, my interest is piqued, so I will definitely seek out more of Macomber’s work in future.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading FAMILY AFFAIR, although I was a bit disappointed that it ended so soon.  But since this story was first published as a novella in the Purrfect Love anthology over ten years ago, this was to be expected.

It is easy to see why Macomber is so popular.  FAMILY AFFAIR is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.  I love the main characters, Jack and Lacey, who endeared themselves to me right away.  With the romance pretty much centered around Dog and Cleo, it made for a great story.   The minor characters, Mark and Sarah, Jack’s sister, also added a lot of conflict to FAMILY AFFAIR.  Yet it was nice to read the happy ending, after all was said and done.

FAMILY AFFAIR was a different sort of book from what I am used to.  Mainly because it contains Macomber’s selected novella, THE BET, from Avon Books’ “Make Your Dreams Come True” writing contest.  The winner of the contest, Darlene Panzera, was given a golden ticket - a chance to be published alongside one of the most important authors in modern literature, Debbie Macomber.

THE BET by Darlene Panzera is a pleasant read.  Fast-paced, with plenty of conflict, the concept of THE BET is a thoroughly unique idea which makes for a lot of fun.  It is the story of a CEO disguising himself as a local rancher and betting $10,000 that our heroine, Jenny O’Brien, will marry him within 60 days.

Panzera is a definite, strong writing talent.  THE BET opens with a lot of excitement, caused by a bunch of townsmen who are eager to win the prize.  Marriage to Jenny O’Brien, our heroine, a beautiful young woman who would do pretty much anything to keep her ranch, Windy Meadows, which is in financial straights, except selling it to money-hungry corporations out for their own gain.  One, in particular,  N. L. C. Industries, that keeps hounding her with offers to buy it.

Little does Jenny realize that the CEO of N. L. C. is none other than the man her uncle recently hired against her wishes, the new ranch hand, Nick Chandler.  Of course, Nick is only working the ranch in order to get closer to Jenny so he can win THE BET and take possession of the ranch, for his own purposes.  But what neither Nick nor Jenny expect is the special attraction they have for one another.

Panzera has created two great main characters in THE BET, who are naturally at odds with one another.  Yet there are a slew of great minor characters as well, who add a lot of conflict and problems to THE BET before Jenny and Nick finally admit to their feelings for one another.  Adding Nick’s sister into the heart of things helps move this story along and explains more of Nick’s reasons for wanting to win THE BET, other than for business needs.

There is a lot of action in THE BET.  When a fire threatens out of control to burn down the ranch, Jenny finds it necessary to find another way to save what’s left of Windy Meadows, entering a horse race, which offers a big pot of money to the winner.  This adventurous scene will keep you on the edge of your seat as you root for Jenny to win the race.

With the pressure on for Jenny to free herself from her financial problems, the pressure from THE BET made by Nick to win her over within 60 days also keeps the excitement riveting, as the reader wonders what will happen in the end.

Kudos to Ms. Panzera on THE BET.  It is easy to see why this story won the Avon Books’ contest and is well worth a read.  I give it four out of five stars.

FAMILY AFFAIR does not end with THE BET.  The end of this book finishes with a taste of Debbie Macomber’s world:  several brief chapters from several different books available for anyone interested:  A SEASON OF ANGELS, THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS, TOUCHED BY ANGELS, MRS. MIRACLE, MORNING COMES SOFTLY, ONE NIGHT, SOMEDAY SOON, and SOONER OR LATER.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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