All that Glitters

Return to Love by Viveca Carlysle
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-035-2
Trisha Terrence and Kaliq Faulkner were introduced in Viveca Carlysle's first novel, Sweet Lies. Kaliq and Sweet Lies' hero Palladin Rush have been best friends since their first year at Harvard. When Kaliq was a foreign correspondent trapped behind enemy lines, it was then-Secret Service agent Palladin Rush who defied his superiors' directives in order to rescue him. Palladin saved his friend, but not before Kaliq’s legs were crushed in an accident and he is confined to a wheelchair. Trisha and Kaliq met on a double date with Palladin and Jesslyn Owens.

There is chemistry between Trisha and Kaliq, but conflicting ambitions and geography drive a wedge between them. Trisha is a Paris-trained chef intent upon carrying out her late mother's dream of operating a bed-and-breakfast. Her opportunity to open a place in Pennsylvania clashes with her desire for a life with Kaliq who runs a summer camp for children in Wyoming.

"He never let an opportunity pass as he tried to entice her to his part of the United States; but as she suspected, invitations became ultimatums -- until the last night they were together when it became a demand."

Return to Love begins four years after their less than amicable parting. Trisha has realized her dream. Although she operates a successful bed-and-breakfast, her business has been jeopardized as a result of her partner's gambling. A shady businessman (who calls himself “Rommel” after the Nazi war strategist) has bought her partner's markers and is threatening to take over the business. Rommel is a spurned suitor who really wants Trisha more than he wants the business.

When his takeover attempts start to get dangerous, Trisha takes Kaliq up on his offer to come to Wyoming. Kaliq wants to protect her, while Palladin and Jesslyn hope they will rekindle their romance.

Viveca Carlylse has created two very likeable characters in Kaliq and Trisha. They are both strong willed and determined to pursue their dreams at any cost. Their relationship is strong and credible. The author has created a strong, independent hero in Kaliq Faulkner. He may be confined to a wheelchair, but is not handicapped in his enjoyment of life. For most of the novel, the reader tends to forget he is disabled.

The Wyoming ranch setting gives the author an opportunity to spin a side yarn about falcons and to make some not-so-subtle comparisons between the various types of "birds of prey." It's interesting, but often slows the pace of the story. There is a secondary relationship which may develop into a romance or another spin-off.

It is good to see Palladin and Jesslyn Rush and catch up on the life they have built together. Return to Love is a spin-off from Sweet Lies, a faster paced action adventure I recommend reading first in order to get a feel for who these characters really are.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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