Although her marriage was not the love match everyone assumed it to be, First Lady Cornelia Nealy Case is genuinely devastated by the assassination of her husband President Dennis Case. Having lived her entire life in the spotlight, first because of her fathers political career, then her husbands, Nealy finds she is tired and is looking forward to some genuine peace and quiet.

Then Nealy learns her father and the new president, who is a widower, want her to continue her duties as first lady. Temporarily trapped, Nealy agrees to stay on for a bitall the while planning on going AWOL. As the Secret Service will be searching for her, Nealy realizes her freedom will be short-lived, but she intends to enjoy every moment of it.

The plan starts well, but after her new car and money are stolen, Nealy unexpectedly steps into a family argument and winds up agreeing to play babysitter on a bizarre cross-country Winnebago trip. Journalist Mat Jorik is transporting his ex-wifes two beligerent daughters to their maternal grandmother in Iowa. If this unusual quartet arent careful, they might find out they are actually bonding.

Leave it to the always-inventive Susan Elizabeth Phillips to deliver humor, tenderness and empathy with a decided twist. No one does it like quite like Ms. Phillips! (On-sale Feb., 384 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith