cover image Love in Another Town

Love in Another Town

Barbara Taylor Bradford / Author HarperCollins Publishers $15

Apparently not one to miss a trend or popular spin, Bradford (Everything to Gain) weaves some New Age mysticism into this atypically short tale, a gender-reversed May-September romance that starts slowly but winds up handily resolving a rash of complications. Tom Cruise look-alike Jake Cantrell is 28; Maggie Sorrell is 43, a Bradford-style woman of hard-won independence and strength. In small-town Connecticut, they meet as volunteers on a community production of The Crucible: electrical whiz Jake does the lighting; interior designer Maggie does the sets. Attraction is instant, but the age barrier must be surmounted before the couple consummate their love (an event depicted in graphic detail). Meanwhile, Jake is trying to wean Amy, his dependent, depressive high-school love, whom he wants to divorce after nine years of drag-down marriage. Maggie, too, is suffering: left by her now-former husband for a younger woman, she has lost the affections of her 21-year-old twins to their wealthy father. Although all the characters seem designed merely to induce feel-good vibes in the reader, Amy-a cancer patient-is relatively compelling in that she undergoes a near-death experience after an auto accident. The aftermath of her NDE-instant enlightenment and the ability to read the future-is far-fetched, but it's gooey and sweet as well: just the right icing for this light and fluffy love cake. 750,000 first printing; $1 million ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections; simultaneous HarperAudio; simultaneous large-print edition from G.K. Hall; author tour. (Nov.)