cover image Asking for Trouble

Asking for Trouble

Millie Criswell, . . HQN, $5.99 (377pp) ISBN 978-0-373-77053-3

Criswell's latest novel is a sweet, standard family tale of trust, hard work and support in the small town of Mediocrity, Pa. Self-doubting divorcée Beth Randall is the new owner of a historic inn, Two Sisters Ordinary, bought from her eccentric live-in aunts, Ivy and Iris. Since the disappearance of Iris's fiancé Lyle McMurtry years ago, Ivy and Iris have garnered a reputation among town gossips as either witches or murderesses—depending on which gossip you talk to. When Beth finds buried bones in the inn's cellar, she can't bear to face the possibility that the gossips may be right, so she keeps mum. But when sexy Virginia pediatrician Brad Donovan, comes sniffing around, he casts further suspicion upon Beth, her aunts and the inn Beth has worked herself into colossal debt over. As much as Beth would like to dismiss Brad, he remains persistent—and none too hard on the eyes. Unfortunately, Criswell does not trust her leads to carry the novel, and the number of supporting characters and subplots she uses to fill it out make for a scattershot story, while awkward family-friendly language ("horse-doody," "running around like the proverbial chicken") dates the narrative. Though heartwarming, that slight virtue is not enough to make this familiar journey worthwhile. (Apr.)