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Readers & Writers Ink Reviews
By Mary Campisi
The reformation of a "slash and burn" developer is the idea behind SIMPLE RICHES, along with the concept that an idealized small-town America exists.
Orphaned at eight, Alexandra Chamberlain has spent most of her life trying to live up to the expectations of her aunt and uncle. Learning to suppress all emotions and to project the image of cool competence has been the legacy of her aunt's teaching. Climbing to the top of her profession as a developer of luxury resorts is the culmination of years of striving for her uncle's attention and praise. All that is about to change.
The small logging town of Restalline, nestled in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, has all the attributes of an idyllic community. The scenery is beautiful, the climate perfect, the people close, affectionate and caring -- and Alexandra is going to destroy it all. The area will be razed and a luxury resort built just as soon as she convinces the population to sell their homes, businesses and land to her.
But first Alex has to infiltrate the community to learn who are the people with the most influence and who are the weakest links. As her cover, Alex pretends she is researching a TV documentary on small-town America. She is welcomed immediately by the friendly townsfolk and soon gains access to the family of one of the town's leaders and favorite son, Nick Androvich.
Dr. Nick Androvich has returned to Restalline partly to serve the needs of the community and partly to salve his guilt over the death of his wife. As the owner of a large chunk of land and part owner of one of the town's major industries, Nick is a perfect target for Alex's efforts. Unfortunately he doubts her cover story and doesn't trust her one bit. He also feels an instant attraction to her, something he'd ignore but for his mother's constant efforts at matchmaking.
Thrown together by circumstance and interested friends, Alex and Nick are unable to fight their mutual attraction. They become lovers, each believing their affair will end shortly, enabling them to resume their previously well-ordered lives. Soon they realize the depth of their feelings for each other make parting unthinkable.
There can be no happily ever after though until Alex reveals her deception to Nick and to the town. But first she must return to her uncle and convince him to forget his plans for a resort in Restalline. Of course things get out of hand at this point and Alex's lies are exposed to all.
In SIMPLE RICHES, author Mary Campisi has created a tale rich with emotion, intrigue and passion. While our primary attention is on the hero and heroine, it is the secondary characters who breathe real life into Campisi's fictional town and it is their stories, every bit as much as her love for Nick, that drives Alex's change of heart.
Regardless of which side of the environmental versus development issue you prefer, I believe you'll find SIMPLE RICHES entertaining and a wonderful way to escape the hectic, sometimes too commercial, holiday seasons.
-- Reviewed by Elizabeth Waye
Readers & Writers Ink Reviews
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