Harlequin Next is a new series line featuring Women’s Fiction. If Sandwiched is any indication, Harlequin may have something good on their hands. This was a very pleasant book indeed.
Cecilia (CiCi) Dupree is 42 and a counselor by profession. She has a seventeen-year-old daughter, Erin, who is a talented musician, and a good girl. CiCi’s husband Bert recently left her for a cute little thing only a few years older than Erin, her widowed mother Belle moved in, and Erin is increasingly secretive and withdrawn. As CiCi puts it: “First my daughter, now my mother. And here I am sandwiched in the middle like a pickle in a bun, trying to keep them from ruining their lives.”
Bert’s leaving them has really hit CiCi hard, and she is in denial. She means well, but she constantly interferes in her daughter’s and mother’s lives. Erin’s been hanging out at a club with a friend and meets Noah, a young musician whose band needs a keyboard player…Erin would be perfect. But CiCi keeps her on a very tight string – the two also argue about whether she will live at home or stay in the dorm at college next year.
CiCi is also upset with her mother. Belle and CiCi’s father had had a long and happy marriage, but now her mother is serious about a nice man she’s been dating. CiCi has bad feelings and keeps telling her mother that she is making a mistake…how could she get involved with another man?
CiCi is finally knocked out of herself by a bookclub she volunteered to lead at the retirement village. The residents are bored with the literary fiction she’s chosen, so she next picks Pauline’s Passion, a romance novel that the residents love. But some of the resident’s children don’t want their parents to read such “trash” and when one of the men takes Viagra and has a bad reaction to it, the book club makes national news, and CiCi gets slapped with a lawsuit. As the book progresses, CiCi realizes that she can’t run her mother and daughter’s lives and if she does, she is as big a busybody as the ones who don’t want their parents to read a romance novel. Meeting a sympathetic and sexy lawyer during the controversy, also helps jolt CiCi out of her misery and the book ends very happily for all.
Sandwiched is told in alternating points of view from CiCi, Belle, and Erin. Erin e-mails to her friends, and Belle writes letters to her dead husband. We get to know all the characters, and they are very likable. None are perfect, but they are nicely rounded and believable, the kind of women you would like to get to know better. The characters are the best thing about this book.
The bookclub sub-plot was a little bit silly and there were times I rolled my eyes, but it wasn’t stupid and it did nudge the action along. There were a couple of funny situations involving CiCi’s stud bulldog, who could have used a bit of doggie Viagra (until he meets the dog next door).
I’ve been bemoaning the dearth of good series titles, but if Sandwiched is any indication, I may have found a line I can enjoy. This book had smooth writing and characters I cared about. And really, what more do you need for a good read?