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Reading Between the Lines    by Rick Hamlin order for
Reading Between the Lines
by Rick Hamlin
Order:  USA  Can
Howard, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Elizabeth Ash loves books. She insulates herself from the harsh realities of dating by getting completely absorbed in romance novels from bygone days. She and her best friend are shopping at a church rummage sale - ostensibly to meet men - when Elizabeth finds a treasure trove of old paperbacks by Harriet Mueller, an author she has dearly loved for years.

A flute player by trade, Elizabeth has extra hours between private lessons and theater performances to read her prized novels. As she opens the first one, she finds writing inside. It's a letter, written in purple ink, filling the open spaces of margins, chapter headings, and any blank space. It is a woman, writing to her darling and telling the stories of their life together. The writing fills the other books Elizabeth purchased as well. She wonders who wrote the words - and wonders even more why the recipient gave the books away.

James Lockhart is a casting director with an eye for picking just the right person for each part. He, like Elizabeth, shelters himself from the world of dating. He has endured a great deal in his life, and thrives on the routines that give his life purpose. When Jim and Elizabeth happen to meet, they form a friendship that has the potential to develop into more. Their hearts guarded from potential pain, is their hope for a relationship? And can James help Elizabeth solve the mystery of the writing in the books?

Reading Between the Lines is a sweet, romantic tale. The plot often takes unpredictable turns, which holds the reader's interest throughout. Both Elizabeth and Jim are well-developed characters. Readers will get a true sense of their motivation for doing certain things, and will grow to care about what happens to them. As an avid reader, I love the idea of finding letters written in the margins of a book. Although the identity of the letter writer isn't a mystery for very long, this doesn't take away from its meaning and how it affects the characters.

The faith element is very subtle and not at all preachy. The New York setting is appealing and uniquely described. Since Jim is a casting director and Elizabeth plays her flute in musicals, there are many references to the theater world from an insider's viewpoint. Reading Between the Lines is a satisfying romance.

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