cover image All They Ever Wanted

All They Ever Wanted

Tracy Solheim. Berkley Sensation, $7.99 mass market (304p) ISBN 978-0-425-28103-1

Book two of Solheim's Second Chances series (after Back to Before) succumbs early to its lead-weight back story and winsome secondary characters, making for a sluggish, digression-plagued read. Congressional candidate Miles McAlister, second child of bed-and-breakfast owner Patricia, has shifted his campaign operations to her inn, purportedly to help run the place while his mother recuperates from a broken hip sustained in a car accident. The actual work is done by Lori Hunt, the cook, who incurs Miles's suspicion, though he can neither bully her nor kiss her into admitting that she is running from a sordid past. The couple spins in slow circles of accusation-kiss-standoff before finally falling into bed, thereby allowing some small advancement of the plot to happen. The spectacle of a career politician deploying threats and sexual coercion, justified by "You weren't putting up much of a protest," may be uncomfortably plausible, but calling it "romance" isn't. Agent: Melissa Jeglinski, Knight Agency. (Mar.)