From our reviewers: October 9

Last updated 16:38 09/10/2012

From The Southland Times book reviewers.

The Underside of Joy
By Sere Prince Halverson (HarperCollins, RRP $30

Reviewed by Naida Mulligan

This is one strictly for those who don't mind a good weeper. While much of the subject matter is sad and you may feel like crying once or twice, there's a really positive message and lots of happiness too.

Ella Beene left a six-year fruitless marriage and a tedious job in a laboratory, packed her jeep and drove north where she fairly promptly met her soulmate and became stepmom to his two children, aged three years and four months.

Three years later the wings are torn from Ella's new and happy life when she is left a widow and the children's birth mother returns. The story is narrated by Ella and is exquisitely written.

The author lives in California, is a stepmother herself, and was also raised by a stepmother.

An excellent read with superb imagery. Highly recommended.

The Fine Colour of Rust
By P A O'Reilly (HarperCollins, RRP $30)

Reviewed by Michelle Lee

Loretta is a mother of two who sometimes fantasises with the idea of dropping her kids at an orphanage and riding off on a motorbike with Harley-Man (another fantasy).

Throw into the equation the AWOL husband, close-to-death car and an impending school closure and the storyline reads like a case of tired mum who thinks she should be culturing organic yoghurt or studying nutritional tables instead of fantasising about a knight in shining armour.

But just when Loretta thinks her life couldn't be any more colourless her world comes crashing down and suddenly she is swimming in a world of lies, corruption and grief.

She would give anything to have the predictable existence back.

The Fine Colour of Rust is an easy-to-read drama/romance with plenty of laughs and tears.

The Ideal Man
By Julie Garwood (Penguin, RRP $26)

Reviewed by Anna Crowther

Ellie Sullivan wasn't looking for love. Her position as a trauma surgeon meant long, gruelling hours on her feet, plus her life had already been given more than its fair share of trouble; or so she thought.

When Ellie is witness to the shooting of an FBI agent she finds that she is once again being served a rather large dose of trouble, of more than just the criminal kind.

FBI agent Max Daniels, who is in pursuit of the shooters, makes it his personal mission to keep Ellie safe and ensure that she is not just another witness to mysteriously disappear from a case that has spanned years.

Vowing to become Ellie's shadow, Max finds that when the time comes for him to leave, he can't, and Ellie doesn't want him to go either.

They come in all different colours, shapes and sizes, but the concept is always the same: he loves you and you love him - so he is your ideal man.

Julie Garwood tells a story where guns are fired, sparks fly and both danger and love are lurking around every corner.

A great story to warm your insides on these cold nights.

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