Hoffmann's Irish family saga has
several strengths -- chiefly a fast pace and some emotional resonance -- but ultimately, it's disappointing. We've seen these characters and situations too many times before.
After her husband's death, Rose Byrne is forced to live on the street with her infant daughter, Mary Grace, until Lady Geneva Porter and her son, Edward, come to the rescue. Though Lady Geneva's husband objects, Rose is employed in their household, and Grace is allowed to share many of the privileges given to Edward and his brother.
When Edward and Grace get older, they marry in secret, but he's called to serve in World War II and is killed soon after. Pregnant and terrified, Grace gets married a second time -- to Adam Callahan, the scion of a wealthy Boston family -- and leaves Ireland to make a new life. (HARLEQUIN, Jan., 448 pp., $5.99)