Playing for Keeps

Deborah Fletcher Mello. Kensington/Dafina, $7.99 mass market (320p) ISBN 978-1-61773-778-7
Mello hits all the right notes with her second Sultry Southern Nights contemporary (after Playing with Fire), featuring a smart heroine, a sensual hero, witty repartee, and complex family dynamics. Entrepreneur Malcolm Cobb owns several successful businesses and is raising his teenage twins, Claudia and Cleo. When he meets gorgeous Priscilla Jameson, their playful banter, natural chemistry, and immediate comfort soon has them acting out of character. Malcolm wants Cilla to meet his daughters, a no-no since his painful divorce from a woman who’s still addicted to drugs. Cilla appreciates Malcolm’s gentlemanly charm and honesty and lets him into her usually guarded life. A chance run-in between Cilla and Cleo uncovers a disturbing situation that will challenge all involved, with Malcolm’s ex-wife at the center. As Cilla becomes a welcome addition to Cobb family activities, the couple’s emotional bonds and sensual connection grow in parallel. Diverse secondary characters remind readers that a relationship is rooted in family and community. Mello sensitively explores the difficult issues of child abuse and toxic parents, cushioning the unflinching examination of harsh topics with plenty of sweet kindness and love. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/2015
Release date: 10/27/2015
Genre: Fiction
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