cover image Letters from Peaceful Lane

Letters from Peaceful Lane

Janet Dailey. Kensington, $7.99 mass market (276p) ISBN 978-1-4201-4491-8

Dailey’s middling contemporary set in Branson, Mo., invites a third person into Allison and Burke Caldwell’s marriage: his deceased wife, Kate. Six years into Allison and Burke’s marriage, Allison is still treated as a trophy wife by Burke’s friends and resented by her college-age stepdaughter, Brianna. Her coping ability is further reduced after Burke is hospitalized following a car crash. Burke admits that his business is failing and he’s been a negligent husband, and he urges Allison to divorce him, but Allison hardly considers that option, even when Burke calls out for Kate in his sleep. Instead, Allison’s discovery of Kate’s old letters to Burke help her to realize that their marriage wasn’t perfect either, which sparks Allison’s interest in better understanding what caused the increasingly suspicious crash. Dailey sensitively writes about the difficulties faced by a young second wife trying to find her place among her husband’s established relationships. Most of Burke and Allison’s exchanges are stressful and combative, making it hard to see what makes them click as a couple, and their love story is secondary even to a subplot about Brianna finding love of her own. Though the novel is billed as a romance, Dailey focuses on Allison’s growth in a way that will feel familiar to readers of women’s fiction, who are the best audience for this lukewarm story. [em]Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Agency. (Apr.) [/em]