cover image Falling for You

Falling for You

Jane Mansell. Sourcebooks Landmark, $14 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-1-4926-0453-2

Several love stories weave through a Cotswolds village in a cozy contemporary that’s entertaining but not especially romantic. When former ugly duckling Maddy Harvey cute-meets a dashing stranger, it’s infatuation at first sight. Then she learns he’s Kerr McKinnon, brother of the boy who killed her little sister in a car accident 11 years ago. Maddy and Kerr’s attempts to negotiate their relationship without devastating Maddy’s family are undercut by the fact that their all-consuming attraction appears to be based on Mansell’s need to disrupt the shifting alliances among Maddy’s cheerfully promiscuous brother; her vengeful childhood enemy, Kate; ditzy barmaid Nuala; and Nuala’s boss and boyfriend, Dexter, whose constant verbal abuse of Nuala is supposed to read as quirky but instead makes him repellent. There’s a constant theme of damage to women’s bodies, including injuries that implicate their partners. Several characters’ parents behave in appalling ways and then falteringly try to make amends. The stars of the story are the refreshingly grubby 7-year-olds Tiff and Sophie, whose friendship seems likely to outlast all the adult relationships put together. Agent: Jennifer Unter, Unter Agency. (Aug.)