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February 3, 2006 Edition

A Year in the Merde, by Stephen Clarke, read by John Lee

Briton Paul West has come to Paris at the behest of a French company opening a series of British tearooms. But all too soon, Paul finds himself entangled in French cultural pitfalls as he looks for an apartment, chases (and is chased by) pretty women, and learns the nuances of doing business French-style. While this may be funniest for listeners who have tried to get a reasonably-sized cup of coffee themselves, it will hold its own with any curious and open-minded traveler.

Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas, by Barbara Samuel, read by Bernadette Dunne

India’s life as a happy single woman with her sometimes-lover comes to a halt when her father dies. Charged with taking care of her eccentric, former show-girl mother, India accedes to Eldora’s desire for a family reunion, and the two head off in Eldora’s Thunderbird to comb the homeless shelters of New Mexico, looking for India’s schizophrenic twin sister, Gypsy. The road trip pulls stories out of Eldora that India’s never heard about her mother, and highlights the uneasy but loving relationship between the two.

Everything Changes, by Jonathan Tropper, read by Scott Brick

After Zach King’s best friend is killed in a car accident which leaves Zach relatively unscathed, Zach tries to take control of his life again. He’s got a beautiful fiancée (but is she out of his league?), a steady job (but what a boring one!), some kind of health problem (he’s sure it’s cancer), a growing attraction to his best friend’s widow (what if the accident was a sign?), and, after twenty years’ absence, a father again. His former deadbeat dad is determined to turn his life around, and inspires Zach to do the same – with disastrous results.

The Ambassador’s Son, by Homer Hickam, read by Stephen Hoye

Lieutenant David Armistead, the President’s cousin, has gone AWOL in the South Pacific, and Captain Josh Thurlow is assigned to catch him and bring him back, dead or alive, in this WWII thriller. Hickam brings in several historical figures to help Thurlow out when Josh is stranded in the jungle with a woman who may or may not lop off his head at any moment, and writes both comedic and realistic scenes with ease. Not a straight war-story, nor quite a thriller, but suspend your disbelief and come along for a remarkable ride.

Trace Evidence, by Elizabeth Becka, read by Bernadette Dunne

Forensic trace evidence expert Evelyn James finds herself called to the scene of two nearly identical crimes. Is there a real connection between the deaths of the two young women, or is there a copycat murderer on the loose? One of the girls is the daughter of the mayor, and he’s demanding answers; Evelyn soon finds herself escaping her own watery grave. Becka’s first novel is based on her own experiences as a forensic scientist.

The Undomestic Goddess, by Sophie Kinsella, read by Rosalyn Landor

Kinsella’s reputation for over-the-top characters caught up in exaggerated situations doesn’t falter here: Lawyer Samantha Sweeting is up for partnership in her firm, when she discovers that she’s made a huge, uncorrectable mistake. In a daze of despair over her lost partnership, she gets on the first train she sees and leaves the city and ends up being taken on as a housekeeper when she stops for directions, even though her housekeeping experience is nil. With the help of the gardener, she keeps her previous life secret, until it suddenly comes crashing back in at her.

Secrets, by Kristen Heitzmann, read by Katherine Kellgren

Family loyalties send Lance Michelli to Sonoma; luck lands him at his family’s old villa just in time to accept a handyman’s job from the new owner. In search of documents hidden by his grandparents, he digs in, but soon finds himself captivated by the owner herself, Rese Barrett. Rese, for her part, is determined to turn the villa into a bed and breakfast, but if she doesn’t face the skeletons in her closet soon, she’ll never realize her goal in this Christian romance.

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