Fiction from DePalo, Norton, and Weaver, with a Debut from Greenidge | Xpress Reviews

DePalo's new series features the hunky Serenghetti brothers; Greenidge's debut exposes a language experiment involving a chimpanzee; Norton takes an honest look at a marriage amid mental illness; Weaver's weaves a new David Raker thriller

Week ending June 10, 2016

starred review starDePalo, Anna. Second Chance with the CEO. Harlequin Desire. (Serenghetti Brothers, Bk. 1). Sept. 2016. 224p. ISBN 9780373734856. pap. $5.25; ebk. ISBN 9781488001970. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE secondchance061016
As high school seniors 15 years ago, Cole Serenghetti and Marisa Danieli could not be more different. He was the top hockey player, good-looking, popular, and headed for sports stardom. Marisa was the work-study student, nerdy and shy. So when they were thrown together for a class project, no one was more surprised than they to end up on the theater department’s couch. Then Cole’s senior prank gets busted—causing him to lose the hockey championship and almost wrecking his scholarship—and Marisa is the one who turned him in to the principal! She was confused by his lack of attention after their night together, and blackmailed into snitching on him. While 15 years have somewhat dimmed Cole’s rage, seeing Marisa again brings back the anger. But Marisa still can’t deny the pull of Cole Serenghetti. As a teacher now at their high school, Marisa needs Cole for her charity fundraiser, but Cole is not content to leave it at that. He circles around her—baffled by his perceived past betrayal and his new feelings of lust and possessiveness. Is the one that got away, the very one that was meant to stay? Marissa and Cole’s story is, thankfully, just the beginning for fans of DePalo (Having the Tycoon’s Baby).
Verdict This novel is the first in a series focusing on the hunky Serenghetti brothers, so romance readers should get ready for some steamy adventures, as these siblings are addicted to adrenaline and have sharp eyes for the ladies.—Judy Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA

Greenidge, Kaitlyn. We Love You, Charlie Freeman. Algonquin. Mar. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9781616204679. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616206079. F
In 1929, white heiress Julia Toneybee-Leroy established a research institute devoted to the study of chimpanzees and their language. In 1990, a family of color are moving to the Toneybee Institute, set in a predominantly white Massachusetts county, to teach hominid Charlie “to speak” via sign language. Laurel Freeman taught sign language to deaf students in Boston, and her daughters Charlotte and Callie are proficient as well. Charlotte is now attending Cumberland County High School, where her father, Charles, is going to teach math. There she bonds with one of her few black classmates, while Callie seeks Charlie’s attention through overeating. Laurel finds her own means of reaching Charlie, which, when revealed, has a lacerating effect on her family. The experiment dovetails with one involving the local African American community of Spring City in 1929. White anthropologist Dr. Terrence Gardner, working at Toneybee, was determined to clarify or perhaps verify the misconceptions whites had about their black neighbors.
Verdict Greenidge’s debut novel rips its characters to pieces as the Freemans become embroiled in the experiment and confront the critical need of all creatures to be loved. Highly recommended for readers of literary fiction and science-themed stories.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

Norton, Ashley Prentice. If You Left. Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2016. 240p. ISBN 9780544263680. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9780544263758. F
Norton (The Chocolate Money) creates a surprisingly honest representation of marriage to a bipolar spouse. After a botched suicide attempt, the latest of many over the course of her marriage to Oliver, Althea decides she must try to change. Oliver, a once attentive and loving husband, has grown distant; even his reactions to her “death threats” are a matter of routine crafted over the years of their marriage. Althea’s relationship with her daughter, Clem, is barely there. Althea decides to take Clem to their Easthampton, NY, home over the summer break and get to know the daughter whose life she has been mostly absent for and finally become the wife Oliver has always wanted. But Oliver may have grown too far apart from her in the past years, and learning to be a mother is more difficult than she expects. Then Althea meets a much younger man who changes her.
Verdict This is a readable but honest look at a marriage in which mental illness has created a divide. This one-of-a-kind novel is recommended for all collections.—Brooke Bolton, Boonville-Warrick Cty. P.L., IN

Weaver, Tim. Fall from Grace. Viking. (David Raker, Bk. 5). Jul. 2016. 416p. ISBN 9780399562570. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780399562587. MYS
When Leonard Franks, a highly respected and recently retired London police official, vanishes from his isolated home, his police officer daughter reluctantly turns to David Raker for help. He is an ex-journalist who now finds missing persons while often clashing with police procedure. Franks had secretly been looking into a closed case in which he’d gotten Met officer Neil Reynolds implicated and fired. Seeking revenge, Reynolds follows Raker in hopes of finding Franks. The trail leads to an abandoned psych hospital where Raker barely escapes and ends up being framed for murder. And the surprises continue. This is the fifth tale in the Raker series but only the second to be published in this country (after Never Coming Back). Weaver, himself a former journalist, continually keeps readers guessing while skillfully managing to tie together seemingly unrelated people and events.
Verdict These two titles will have readers clamoring for more of the series to become available even as the last lines of this one clearly imply a sequel. [See Prepub Alert, 2/1/16.]—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale

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