cover image LATE BLOOMER


Fern Michaels, . . Atria, $24 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-7434-5778-1

The eponymous late bloomer in this new novel by the prolific Michaels (No Place Like Home) is Cady Jordan, a dowdy 30-year-old loner who moves back to her hometown of Indigo, Pa., to take care of her ailing grandmother. Lola Jor Dan is no cuddly, cookie-baking granny; she's a flamboyant retired movie star, widowed six times and living on a lavish estate. She revamps Cady's wardrobe ("You're going to buy off the rack?") and encourages her to start living her life. But Cady can't: when she was 10 years old, she took part in a daredevil stunt that landed her in the hospital and killed another child. She has no memory of the accident, but has been a nervous, timid creature ever since. Now that she's back in Indigo, Cady hopes to recover her lost memory. Fortunately, the town is still home to all her cohorts of that day: Pete Danson, now a local lawyer; Boomer Ward, the town's police chief; Amy Hollister, who had been leader of the mischievous pack and is now a stay-at-home mom; and Amy's twin, Andy, an insurance salesman. The childhood attraction between Cady and Boomer becomes an on-and-off-again romance that complicates matters as Cady tries to get to the bottom of what happened, while her former playmates do everything they can to stop her. The action-packed plot holds few surprises, but Michaels's fans will be satisfied with this feel-good page-turner. (Feb.)

Forecast:Michaels's protagonist may be a late bloomer, but this novel won't be—expect it to hit bestseller lists early, winning back readers who tired of her Kentucky series.