Mallery sets up a familiar triangle in her latest: an adult child torn between her adoptive and birth parents. Jenna’s struggle to redefine both her sense of self and the boundaries of her family is believable, as are Beth’s fluctuating emotions about Jenna’s birth mother. All of the female characters are well realized and easy to relate to. Less successful are the male characters, who rarely break from the stock roles they’re assigned. At the heart of this book is a look at what “family” means that is sure to please.
Talented chef Jenna returns home to Texas, her marriage over and her confidence in tatters. In need of change, she opens a kitchen store, determined to put the past behind her. Also determined to forget her past is Jenna’s streetwise store manager, Violet, who quickly bonds with Jenna and her mother, Beth. Just as the store is up and running, Jenna’s birth parents turn up looking to reconnect with the daughter they gave up, turning Jenna’s world upside down. (MIRA, Apr., 336 pp., $14.95)