cover image After the Frost

After the Frost

Megan Chance. Dell Publishing Company, $4.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-440-21488-5

Chance follows her debut novel (A Candle in the Dark) with an urgent and absorbing narrative that tells the flavorfully atmospheric story of Belle Sault. Belle is no longer the rebellious, impulsive girl she was when, pregnant and in disgrace, she left her family's Ohio farm to fend for herself in New York. Now hardened by the years, Belle returns to retrieve her daughter, Sarah, from her stiffly proper mother, Lillian, and her once-adored stepbrother Rand-Sarah's father. Belle's unexpected appearance unleashes an onslaught of emotions in Rand and Lillian, who have been working the land in respectful amity, dutifully raising young Sarah, the focus of a parental battle of wills. Feeling renewed by her return to her home, Belle rediscovers the joys of Midwestern life even though the gossipy townsfolk circulate rumors about her bellying up to the bar with the boys for a round of poker and living under the same roof as Rand. She and Rand each fight against not only the fierce longing they both fear and desire but also years of shame and regret. Ardently executed, this is a story deftly told. (Oct.)