Girls Night
Stef Ann Holm
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Girls Night

Stef Ann Holm
384 pages
October 2002
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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After her beloved husbandís death, Jillene McDermott is forced to become a career woman and take charge of the coffee bar that had been her late husbandís project, and which is now her family's only source of income. She soon comes to realize the extent of their rapidly spiraling finances, and she ploughs all the energy she can spare from her two adorable and energetic daughters into becoming the sole provider. Unfortunately for Jill, her coffee bar (Java the Hut) is situated in the most un-hip location of a small beachhouse community where coffee connoisseurs are few and far in between. She struggles along, trying her level best to maintain their previous standard of living for her precocious ten- and twelve-year-old daughters.

Itís at this time that Vince Tremonti, the townís most famous son and a renowned true-crime writer, comes home. Not only does his profession force this ex-Seattle cop to put himself in the minds of homicidal maniacs, but it also has some unforeseen and disastrous effects, as Vince comes to find out. In this chaotic state of mind, the last thing he wants is to be attracted to a sexy young widow with a ready-made family. Meanwhile, Jilleneís two daughters are aware of their momís woes and think that she needs a man to make her happy. This prompts them to insert a personal ad in newspaper. The resulting comical and, at times, nasty results have quite the opposite effect. But can these wise-beyond-their-years kids ever learn to accept Vince and share their mom with him?

Stef Ann Holm has a fresh and lively style of writing that makes even the simplest of tales vastly entertaining. This story though, has a complex twist. The character of Vince Tremonti in a terrible dilemma and this not only affects him, but also provides narrative tension. The author expresses this beautifully but has devoted altogether too many pages to the dilemma, the reasons behind it and the consequences. Jillene is a wonderful mother and her relationship with her daughters is loving and understanding. The children provide entertainment and also form a complex part of the story. The relationship that gradually develops between the two main protagonists is based on understanding and attraction, and this makes it appear very natural. There is also a secondary love story developing between Vinceís father and a beautiful widow in the community which is charming and cute. Overall, this gentle romance is entertaining, but not very exciting.

© 2003 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book

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