IT'S A THIN LINE
The story of the private heartaches of three Chicago siblings before and after their mother's debilitating stroke drives this amiable family-and-faith-centered novel by Roby (Casting the First Stone). At 36, Sydney Taylor attempts to be dutiful daughter, eldest sister, loving wife, apprentice freelance journalist and pragmatic mother to a teenager. This general overcommitment has a dire effect on her sex life, causing caring husband Wesley's patience to wear thin. Middle sister Gina balances her top-level job, her twin girls and her jealous husband's physical and mental abuse, which finally proves too much for her to handle. The sisters' young brother, Rick, enjoys his job and his live-in fiancée, but her desire to set a wedding date and his fear of commitment are issues they must address. When the siblings' mother, Delores, suffers a stroke during her retirement party, all of their personal problems are put on hold. Delores undergoes surgery for a brain tumor and moves in with Sydney while she recovers. To Sydney, who's also dealing with a hefty secret relating to her sexual problems, it seems that she is caring for her mother alone, while her sister and brother return to their cloistered lives. But Sydney doesn't realize that Gina has resolved to take justice into her own hands and punish her brutal husband, and Rick is struggling to make a dramatic, life-altering decision about his relationship. More texture in the prose would take Roby's writing up a notch or two, but as it stands, this is an easy, satisfying beach read. Agent, Elaine Koster. (May)
Forecast:Roby, a Blackboard bestselling author, won't expand her audience much with her latest, but fans will respond to her tried-and-true formula. 10-city author tour.