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    Review of THE SWEETEST HOURS by Laura Pedersen (see her website)


    BookSurge, LLC, March 2006

    As his family ages, a dog searches for a new job--and finds it in an unlikely location. A babysitter explains the brutal truth about Santa. A too-nerdy camp councellor spins a web of stories to ensnare the camp hunk. A New England inn finds a new life in helping every woman's fantasy come true. A strange love relationship develops between a man and a dolphin. A shy woman finds new life when she takes over her late sister's bookstore. A man deals with the consequences of his affair. Two girls search for secrets--and find more than they bargained for. The spoiled son of rich parents is thrown from his home and goes to live with his aunt in a retirement community. Two sisters grow up together--but their lives go in different directions. A New York trader heads for Alaska to be a mail-order bride--and finds an unexpected surprise waiting. An idealistic young woman tries to retain her ideals in the dot-com days of 2000.

    In a series of short stories and novellas, author Laura Pedersen (see more reviews of books by Pedersen) explores relationships between people and character growth. Pedersen's strong writing enlivens each of these stories, creating laughs and thoughtful moments with even familiar situations. The story of Gus the dog, for instance (Gus Hunts for a Job) didn't exactly plumb any emotional depths, but Pedersen constructed it strongly, with plenty of vivid images of a dog's life--and the life of a college fraternity. The nerdy camp councellor story (Second Nature) is a bit of wish fulfillment for nerdy book-people everywhere. I found the story of the bookstore sister (True to her Word) and of the sisters (Irish Twins) to be the emotionally strongest and most disturbing. Each of these dealt with people outside of the mainstream of the accepted--looking for ways to accomodate the world--or to make the world accomodate to them.

    THE SWEETEST HOURS is universally well written and interesting. Some of the stories seem dated, and some may reflect Pedersen at a less mature emotional stage, but this is a compelling set of stories--well worth the read.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 3/21/06

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