With two weddings coming up, Benni Harper has a lot of party planning to do. In addition, she's received an assignment of sorts. Fifty years ago, Maple Bennett Sullivan killed her husband and the historical society wants Benni to research the crime.

In the meantime, Benni and husband Gabe Ortiz have hit a rough spot. In addition, Gabe's former police partner, the sexy Del Hernandez, has come to town. Del, who was somewhat responsible for the breakup of Gabe's first marriage, seems determined to ruin his second.

As Benni becomes absorbed with the past crime, she also finds her own marriage deteriorating. Benni is not only beginning to sympathize with Maple but to wonder if the woman was falsely accused.

Generally stories about crimes of the past hold a particular charm, combining mystery with poignancy. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen here, as Maple's story seems almost like an afterthought. STEPS TO THE ALTAR reads more like a personal journal of marital woes and although Gabe and Benni are fan favorites, this book needs a stronger plot and less introspection. (Apr., 320 pp., $22.95)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg