Picks and Pans Review: Twelve Times Blessed

updated 04/14/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/14/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Jacquelyn Mitcttard

Suspense comes from a familiar question—can this marriage be saved?—in this uneven novel. At age 43, True Dickinson is a widowed single mother with a successful Internet business called Twelve Times Blessed, which sends out monthly baby gifts. Hank is a handsome young chef she marries in a burst of passion, but True, who thinks her looks are fading, can't believe Hank is committed to her and her son Guy. Is he just a gold digger?

Mitchard's writing can be terrible—at one point True compares herself to "a tuna melt"—but she perfectly understands women's insecurities and the minutiae of daily spats. She wrings tension out of every sharp word and awkward hug. (HarperCollins, $25.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Well observed, not so well written

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