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Return Engagement    by Lynn Michaels order for
Return Engagement
by Lynn Michaels
Order:  USA  Can
Ivy, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Former TV star, heart throb Noah Patrick is seriously thinking about walking into the ocean and letting the Pacific put him out of his misery, when his former agent finally tracks him down. Noah feels he's got nothing left to live for after squandering his talent, money and a good portion of his brain cells on alcohol and women. Vivienne Varner, more enemy than friend, bullies Noah into facing life again and accepting a deal he can't refuse -- starring in a play written by her younger daughter Joline. It's a story Vivienne's certain will show the world that 'Noah Patrick is back!' and resurrect his career. Noah's sure that Vivienne has a hidden agenda (she always does) but decides to worry about that later. He concentrates instead on getting back into mental and physical shape and coming to terms with stepping back onto a stage for the first time in years.

Two decades before, Lindsey Varner-West abandoned Hollywood, Vivienne and co-star Noah Patrick without a backward glance. Raising her son and running a bookstore in the relative obscurity of her home town of Belle Coeur suited her much more than the demanding and heartbreaking life of a teenage TV celebrity. The only reason she's agreed to take a lead role in her sister's play is to help Joline and Vivienne mend long broken fences and keep Joline's failing regional theatre going. What Lindsey doesn't count on is how much Noah Patrick has changed. The 'bad boy drunk' is gone, replaced by a caring and decent man, one that Lindsey had always suspected was hidden under that false Hollywood fašade. Can she survive weeks of late night rehearsals with the only man who has managed to shatter her heart?

Lynn Michaels, does a wonderful job of balancing a rich, breezy and often funny story, and juggling a large cast - in particular, two outstanding leads. In fact, I haven't enjoyed a male lead as much as I have Noah Patrick in a long while. He's smart, funny, irreverent, unrepentant, yet the first to admit he's a screw-up. He's also a man honestly trying to turn his life around and find redemption. I couldn't help but like him and root for him. Lindsey too, is a great character, Noah's match in all ways, but most of all, his staunchest champion. I look forward to back-tracking and reading Mother of the Bride, something of a prequel to Return Engagement, and will keep my eyes open for future books from this refreshing author.

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