Careless Whispers

Gentle Yearning

Heaven Sent

Holiday Cheer

Rosie's Curl & Weave

Summer Magic

Harvest Moon by Rochelle Alers
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN: 1-58314-056-5
Kids really do grow up quickly. It seems like only yesterday that Regina Cole was born. Rochelle Alers' 1995 novel Hideaway chronicled Regina's first ten years. After that we've caught glimpses of her at family gatherings. When we last saw Regina, her Uncle David was getting married at the end of Heaven Sent. Regina surprised everyone by bringing home her new husband. Well, actually, he was her old husband. Film director Oscar Spencer was 50 years her senior, 20 years older than her father, Martin Cole.

Harvest Moon begins eight years after the close of Heaven Sent. Oscar Spencer has died at the age of 77. His 27-year-old widow is making arrangements for his funeral in Mexico. One of her tasks his to inform her husbandís only son of his passing. Regina and Dr. Aaron Spencer have never met. The elder and younger Spencers have been estranged for a dozen years. She does not know why.

When Dr. Spencer arrives in Mexico from Brazil, where he runs a research institute, he is momentarily surprised to meet a stepmother who is ten years younger than he. When he learns she was once an actress, he assumes she is a gold-digging starlet. Aaron soon discovers how wrong he is.

Both Aaron and Regina are chips off the old block, passionate and strong willed. As they prepare for Oscar's funeral, they try to ignore the intense mutual attraction developing between them. Aaron offers his father's widow his protection.

"I'm his son, Princesa, Blood of his blood and flesh of his flesh. And I've taken an oath that I will protect you the same way he did when he was alive. If I never ask anything of you, I'm going to ask that you trust me."

Harvest Moon is a worthy inauguration of the second generation of stories in the Diaz-Cole family saga. Rochelle Alers has begun with the oldest of the Cole daughters and has promised Hideaway series fans stories about Joshua Kirkland's and Matthew Sterling's daughters. Harvest Moon is dedicated to the readers who asked for the Cole chronicles to continue.

Regina Cole is every bit as spirited as her parents, Martin and Parris, and her grandparents, Sammy and M.J. However, she doesn't have the same edge that defines the male members of the older generation. Obviously, the men who expect to attract the Cole women can't come limping! They have big footsteps to fill. These daughters have resourceful and dangerous fathers who will stop at nothing to protect their own. In Dr. Aaron Spencer, Rochelle Alers has crafted a hero who is definitely up to the task.

Through flashbacks, Rochelle Alers brings us up to date on what happened during Regina's acting career, as Oscar's wife and the impact of her kidnapping during the Hideaway years. Harvest Moon is an excellent stand alone. However, it is impossible to understand who Regina Cole Spencer really is without reading Hideaway. For those who like action-adventure romances or who would like to do some background reading about the Diaz-Cole family, I'd recommend Hidden Agenda, Vows and Heaven Sent.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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