cover image Sandwiched


Jennifer Archer, . . Harlequin/Next, $5.50 (298pp) ISBN 978-0-373-23034-1

Told through a clever mix of narrative, letters, e-mails and instant messages, this multigenerational tale covers all-too-familiar ground as it charts the trials of three women living under the same roof: middle-aged marriage counselor Cecelia Dupree, a depressed recent divorcée with a penchant for sweets; her newly widowed mother, Belle; and her 17-year-old daughter, Erin, who's suffocating under CiCi's too-strict rules. Having been burned by her cheating ex, who fancies women in their 20s, CiCi can't seem to move on. Predictably, it's her vivacious mother, as well as the good-humored (and horny) seniors in Belle's reading group, who teach CiCi to embrace life—and the handsome younger man who's interested in pursuing a relationship with her. The book isn't as sweetly playful as the cover, featuring a scrumptious-looking ice cream cone, suggests, and the plot sometimes reads as if plucked from fantasyland (e.g., all three women pair off with fantastic men who love them just the way they are). But what saves this story from being a 300-page cliché is its moments of insight and poignancy. Whether writing from the perspective of an angst-ridden teenager or a bitter, depressed divorcée, Archer (Shocking Behavior , etc.) captures the voices and vulnerabilities of her characters with precision. Agent, Jenny Bent. (July)