The stand-out feature of Closer Than Close is Bettye Griffin's insightful, compassionate writing about the various relationships in Ivy Smith's life.

Relationships provide the color, laughter and conflict in a book that reads as smoothly as a conversation with an old friend.

Self-employed and successful, Ivy is faced with an interesting dilemma: She out-earns most of the men she dates. She never married and has no kids, but in an ironic twist of fate, two single dads vie for her affection. The author sets up the triangle, but generates little tension besides that provided by Ivy's best friend, Bethany, who feels wealthy Mitch is the better choice than middle-class Ray.

Griffin expertly spins a web of interconnected relationships to show how each contributes to (or stands in the way of) Ivy's happiness. Ivy's parents and siblings, Mitch's and Ray's children, assorted friends and coworkers all have their say before the story is over. That's good and bad news. There is little conflict that doesn't end almost before it begins. Read this novel for a finely drawn map of contemporary relationships, but don't expect Ivy to ever have to confront any serious trouble. (Jan., 280 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Cindy Harrison