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Queen of Broken Hearts    by Cassandra King order for
Queen of Broken Hearts
by Cassandra King
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Jessica Weaver

A whimsical tale set in Fairhope, Alabama, Queen of Broken Hearts spins the story of Clare, a divorce counselor whose husband died in a tragic accident a few years before the novel takes place. Clare has settled into her life, throwing herself into her work and enjoying time with two male friends, Rye and Lex.

Rye is an old friend, a cousin of her late husband, whose expensive tastes and suave dancing give Clare a sample of what it might be like to live in his rich world. Lex moved to Fairhope with his wife, Elinor, just to have her leave him. A marina owner from the foreign land of Maine, Lex's down-to-earth personality is endearing. He is easy to picture as a giant teddy bear, especially set against the debonair character of Rye Ballinger.

Readers are immersed in the world of Fairhope and introduced to a cast of varied characters: Clare's best friend Dory, who has just come back to her overdependent husband Son; Clare's daughter Haley, who struggles with her marriage as her husband moves up in his career; and Lex's ex-wife Elinor, a haughty couture-shop owner who doesn't want Lex but doesn't want anyone else to have him either.

As Clare works to open a new retreat center for her patients, she also works to open her heart again after her rocky but passionate marriage with Mack. Haunted by the ghosts of her past, she is constantly on guard against her two suitors.

Although the dialogue is a little high-brow and slightly unrealistic, King's story is truly enchanting and you feel like you know the characters very well by the end of the story. Read Queen of Broken Hearts for a wonderful trip to a place of great Southern charm, where romance and broken relationships intertwine in the air.

Review of Abridged Audiobook by Jessica Weaver:

Although the narrator's Southern twang seems overkill at first, by the time you are halfway into the five CDs that make up this abridged book it seems only natural. Anne Twomey's interpretations of Clare's Southern drawl, Rye's aristocratic speech, and Lex's New England accent are easy to follow and enjoyable to listen to.

I did feel like I lost some of the story in its abridgement. Some tales that start don't finish - but not to the degree that it makes the listener miserable, just curious about plots and characters. Most of the character development on the main characters is still there, and you are still given the enchanting feeling of arriving in a Gulf Coast paradise.

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