cover image Troublemaker


Trice Hickman. Kensington/Dafina, $9.95 mass market (304p) ISBN 978-0-7582-8726-7

Hickman’s fourth Unexpected Love contemporary (after Looking for Trouble) is a predictable domestic drama laden with heavy hearts and simmering hurts. Life is looking up for spoken-word artist Alexandria Thornton as she prepares for marriage to her childhood best friend, P.J. Brightwood, and comes to terms with her prophetic gifts. Grandma Allene, who has been guiding Alexandria from the spirit word, tells Alexandria to invite family and friends to Nedine, S.C., so everyone can work through “gritty realities and unpleasant truths” bubbling to the surfaces of their lives. Alexandria’s mother, Victoria, is worried about Parker, her ex-lover and PJ’s father, joining her family and the fact that her husband, Ted, is avoiding intimate relations with her. Ted is holding on to his mother’s deathbed confession, which changes how he sees himself. Family friend Samantha, upset that her teenage son is about to become a father, is even more worried about a possible revelation of a long-buried secret. All types of relationships go under the microscope and are sorted out with Grandma Allene’s help. Fans may enjoy reconnecting with series characters, but tension is lacking, and Hickman’s prose doesn’t live up to the evocative style of her prior books. (Aug.)