cover image Love in Catalina Cove

Love in Catalina Cove

Brenda Jackson. HQN, $7.99 mass market (480p) ISBN 978-1-335-00564-9

Jackson (the Protector series) opens the Catalina Cove contemporary series with a dramatic but messily constructed tale of love, social ostracism, and motherhood. After Vashti Alcindor loses both her beloved Aunt Shelby and her dream job working at a luxury hotel, she returns to her hometown of Catalina Cove, La., to handle her aunt’s estate. On her arrival, she gets a speeding ticket from the local sheriff, widower Sawyer Grisham, in a fantastical scene of instant attraction; readers may find it hard to believe that a creole woman being pulled over in rural Louisiana is unconcerned for her safety, thinking only about how hot the sheriff is. The two of them strike up a steamy romance, though Vashti has been hurt before and is hesitant to trust Sawyer. Vashti left Catalina Cove in disgrace after a teen pregnancy turned the town against her; now she finds the town to be warmer and kinder than when she left. But skeletons of the past are lurking, and Vashti must eventually face an unbelievable truth about her long-ago pregnancy. Hilariously bad sex scenes (“She was moaning and purring all over the place as he greedily mated with her mouth”), flat characters, and cheesy dialogue diminish the intriguing plot. Agent: Pattie Steele-Perkins, Steele-Perkins Literary. (Nov.)