Debbie Macomber, Author . Mira $22.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-55166-811-6

Set in the suburban town of Willow Grove, Calif., Macomber's latest (after Always Dakota) follows the friendship of four women who meet at the Mocha Moments cafe every Thursday morning. For the new year, Clare Craig, Liz Kenyon, Julia Murchison and Karen Curtis decide to choose a word that will help them realize their New Year's resolutions. Having recently divorced her cheating husband of 23 years, Clare chooses the word "faithful," and not surprisingly, her faith is put to the test when she learns that her ex has cancer. Liz, a 57-year-old hospital administrator who would rather be alone with fond memories of her late husband than fending off the advances of debonair Dr. Jamison, focuses on the word "time" to symbolize her need to regain control of her life. Julia has everything her heart desires—a loving husband, two teenagers and her own yarn shop. Naturally, she chooses the word "gratitude," but she feels less than grateful when she discovers that she's pregnant again. And then there's Karen, a 20-something substitute teacher whose desire to become an actor frustrates her domineering mother. Karen chooses the word "acceptance" as a reminder that she must be herself, not who her mother thinks she should be. The novel shifts between the women's journal entries and action, a setup affording an intimate glimpse of each character but also contributing to the story's sluggish pacing. As always, Macomber draws rich, engaging characters, but her flat narrative voice and sugary sentimentality do little to keep the reader turning pages. (June)

Forecast: Macomber has built a respectable following for herself with her Heart of Texas series and her Dakota Trilogy. Despite this book's flaws, it will climb the bestseller lists, boosted by print advertising in national publications ( New York Times Book Review, USA Today and Library Journal), book signing events and a satellite television tour.

Reviewed on: 05/21/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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