SECOND TIME AROUND
Kendrick centers her story around a fairly sad premise -- the death of a 32-year-old woman -- and lifts it up from the morose to tell a sweetly encouraging tale. Although aspects of the novel aren't terribly original, it benefits from a heart-lifting message and devoted female friendships.
Four college pals are given a new chance at life after one of the friends passes away. Arden leaves each woman $250,000 to pursue whatever it is that will make her happy. Although it doesn't happen overnight, one taps into her love of baking to become a pastry chef; another buys a BandB; the third starts work on her romance novel; and the fourth becomes a wedding planner.
It's not all a piece of cake, naturally, and they're about to discover a lot more about their good friend -- and benefactress -- than they ever knew. (BANTAM, Apr., 330 pp., $15.00)