Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, March 8, 2013

Week ending March 8, 2013

Berwin, Margot. Scent of Darkness. Pantheon. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780307907523. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780307907530. $25. F
Evangeline is a wallflower, always blending into the background and never really noticed by anyone. Her grandmother Louise is the exact opposite: a perfumier, with a deep belief in fortune-telling, voodoo, and other occult arts. When she dies, Louise leaves Eva a special gift: a scent created especially for her. But this is no ordinary perfume; once applied, it won’t come off, and suddenly Evangeline finds herself thrust into the limelight. Now the heroine in her own mystical adventure, swept into the exotic surroundings of New Orleans and Louisiana voodoo, Eva is caught between two lovers and must choose only one. But which man—the light or the dark—will win her heart?
Verdict Berwin’s Creole-flavored romance (after her best-selling debut Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire) will provide plenty of pleasure to readers who enjoy a touch of magical realism in their fiction. Fans of such atmospheric writers as Alice Hoffman will find much to enjoy here. [See Prepub Alert, 8/16/12.]—Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ

Mallery, Susan. Three Sisters: A Blackberry Island Novel. Mira: Harlequin. Mar. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780778314349. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460306390. F
Left at the altar and emotionally crushed, pediatrician Andi Gordon has moved from Seattle to Blackberry Island in the Puget Sound. Purchasing one of a trio of historic homes known as the Three Sisters, she sets about rescuing her dilapidated house and herself. Andi’s neighbor, artist Boston King, is the first to welcome Andi to their tiny neighborhood. The tragic death of Boston’s infant son has shut down all of Boston’s emotions, and her husband’s efforts to help are not working. Andi’s other neighbor, Deanna Phillips, is regarded as a stuck-up, frightening mother of five wonderful girls. Deanna’s abusive childhood has led Deanna to hold high standards for her family, but Deanna’s extreme micromanaging has left her children afraid of her, and her husband has all but given up on her. The three women come to rely upon the supportive bond of the friendship they develop.
Verdict In her second “Blackberry Island” novel (after Barefoot Season), Mallery has again created an engrossing tale of emotional growth and the healing power of friendship as these three “sisters” meet life’s challenges.—Joy Gunn, Paseo Verde Lib., Henderson, NV

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"