The Last Santini Virgin

Loving You

Marine Under the Mistletoe

Some Kind of Wonderful

Sleeping With the Boss

A Crazy Kind of Love: Mike's Story
by Maureen Child
(St. Martins, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-312-99753-1
Maureen Child takes us back to Chandler, California, the site of her Loving You, Finding You, Knowing You books. A Crazy Kind of Love is the second of the stories of the Marconi sisters: Samantha who is married and featured in the first book; Josefina who is a witch and Michaela, or Mike.

They work in a construction business with their father, Hank, who always wanted a son, but continues to assert he would never trade in his girls. Mike is the plumbing expert. She has had a rough life with a few hard lessons learned along the way. She used to like to just run away when things were going wrong. But one night she ran and hitchhiked, only to find herself in the car with a drunk, who promptly wrecked. Her abdominal injuries were severe enough that she was told she would never have children. And all this happened while her mother was dying of cancer.

Mike’s dream was to save money to buy some land on a lake but near enough to the ocean to smell the breeze. Unfortunately some new guy moved into town and bought the land she wanted. To make matters worse, the Marconi's are hired to help build the house…which Mike feels should have been her dream house. So she is determined to make sure the guy does it right, regardless of the fact she has no say in the matter.

Lucas Gallagher is a nano-scientist, determined to help the world by finding a cure for cancer. He is taking a year-long sabbatical to write a book and has chosen Chandler as the place in which to do it. Mike Marconi is a distraction he doesn't need. They are both attracted to each other, but spend the first third of the book driving each other crazy with arguments, stubbornness and an apparent contest to see who can cause the other the most angst, without losing their own temper or sanity. Needless to say, this is all just foreplay.

Once they get past this adolescent nonsense, the story picks up. Lucas is dealing with a twin brother he hasn't seen for many years following a falling out. This story is slowly revealed as the tale unfolds and the tragedy is very emotional. Lucas' humanity is seen clearly in this plot line and his depths are uncovered.

Mike, on the other hand, is trying to deal with her father, who has a heart attack and then reveals a secret. How the girls each handled the surprise was the heart of this part of the tale. Jo is set up for her book to follow. Through all the drama, Mike and Lucas fall in love, albeit unwillingly. When together, the sparks fly and how they wrestle with their emotions is what moves the tale.

This is a story about small town life. The Candellano's from the earlier books make an appearance. How people handle life, death and loss is explored. It is really more of a study of a nice town and lots of people with Mike and Lucas as the main plotline. There are some loose ends that never really got sewn up. These include why Lucas came to Chandler and how he lives, now that he is on a sabbatical. There is the elusive inheritance but this is loosely woven into the tale.

Generally well written, I did find the first part of the book a little too predictable. Even the ending wasn't surprising. Yet the drama in the center of the tale was well done and engaging. Jo has lots of secrets too, and is not the most likable character, being just a little too rude and hardheaded. How Child will convince the reader to like her in her own story could be interesting.

If you want a generally rich tale with some predictability and some surprises, then A Crazy Kind of Love is a good place to look.

--Shirley Lyons

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