The House on Olive Street

Runaway Mistress

Lip Lock

Never Too Late by Robyn Carr
(Mira, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-7783-2297-1
Clare Wilson is a free woman at last. Having finally separated for good from her cheating ex-husband, Clare is on her own with her teenaged son, Jason. But Roger keeps trying to convince her to forgive him and try again. When Clare finds him in bed with another woman for the umpteenth time, she knows it’s over for good.

But a split-second car crash changes everything for Clare. When she awakens in the hospital, she has a cracked pelvis, several broken bones and will need months of therapy and healing. Roger wants to help. So does Sam Jankowski, the hunky cop who was on the scene at the time of the crash. Then there’s Pete Rayburn, with whom she shares a painful, and embarrassing, past. Suddenly men are crawling out of the woodwork.

Clare never quite got over her first love, Mike Rayburn. Pete is Mike’s younger brother, with whom she shared a bond of friendship, until the night when it turned into something hot and sexual. Too ashamed to confess, Clare never told her fiancé, and shortly after, Mike was killed in an air crash. Clare turned her back on Pete and married Roger, burying the past. Or so she thought.

Helping Clare recuperate are her two sisters, Maggie, a Type A lawyer, and Sarah, an artist with a wild past. Neither are fans of Roger, who has hurt Clare too many times. Neither is Jason, who isn’t speaking to his father.

Clare is attracted to Sam, but he’s much younger than she is – more Sarah’s age. Pete, a high school football coach, reconnects with Clare unexpectedly. And Roger, the man who could always make her laugh even as he broke her heart, won’t take no for an answer. What’s a woman to do?

Never Too Late, while not riveting, is an interesting and pleasant enough read. It’s just not very memorable. Clare waffles between the three men in her life, finally taking a stand when she can no longer avoid doing so. Maggie, the married lawyer, evaluates her own happiness, and Sarah finds she’s hopelessly drawn to one of Clare’s men. None of them make a strong impression, probably because they are forced to share page space. Clare is supposed to be the central romance, I guess, but she didn’t stand out.

The secondary characters fill their roles adequately. Sam longs for Clare and ends up having to deal with disappointment and a new love at the same time. Roger finally must face up to his actions and try to deal with the devastation he’s brought to his son. Pete is the good-looking guy from way back when who might finally fit the here-and-now. As they shuffle and reshuffle, the right pairs get sorted out.

I had nothing against any of these people. (Well, Roger was a bit of a SOB.) They’re decent and good-hearted; but they don’t stand out. Robyn Carr writes well (after a curious first chapter filled with long sections of narrative backstory), and if she focused on just one romance, she’d likely pen a winner. But there are too many people and too many subplots for this story to satisfy. As a lukewarm family drama, Never Too Late works. As a strong romance, readers will likely be disappointed.

--Cathy Sova

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