Jean Reynolds Page, Author . Ballantine $22.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-345-46217-6

Two women who loved the same man are thrown together after his death in this smoothly written second novel by the author of A Blessed Event . After losing her 35-year-old husband in a freak accident, Gina, a freelance writer, moves onto his boat on the Charleston waterfront, drinks too much and attempts to create some semblance of a new life. She's shocked out of her grief when an intruder frightens her one night and she responds instinctively, discovering to her horror that she has shot seven-year-old Angel, who happens to be the daugher of her husband's ex-wife, Reese. While Angel is recuperating, mother and child share the boat with Gina, who gets help coping from handsome Derek, who works at the marina. Reese, a pretty, hippie-ish wanderer, is friendly but clearly unstable, and claims she isn't sure whether Benjamin was Angel's father. Gina can't help being suspicious, though a bond begins to form between her and Angel. When Reese's moods start to change radically from one moment to the next, it's clear that something is seriously wrong with her. Meanwhile, Gina is haunted by painful memories of a sister who died as a child. Page steps easily into the shoes of her appealingly flawed characters as she weaves a convincing web of unconventional family relationships. Agent, Susan Ginsburg at Writers House. (Jan. 25)