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Lisa Wingate: Lone Star Cafe

 

Crescent Blues Book Views Onyx (Paperback), ISBN 0-451-41144-7

Book: Lisa Wingate: Lone Star Cafe
Laura Draper's day just keeps getting worse. Sent to Texas to get a new magazine to print on time, she faces a deadline that looms far too close for her comfort -- especially when a thunderstorm kills her cover photo shoot and fries a hard drive containing one of the stories. Her boyfriend, Dale, breaks it off with her via cell phone.

Her father complicates her life further. A cranky ex-military man, he refuses to live at the condo purchased for him, take his medicine or eat. Mourning the recent death of Laura's mother, he seems to be just waiting to die. Laura's siblings believe their father merely tries to push her buttons, but Laura thinks he needs her help even if he doesn't seem to want it.

Exhausted and stressed, Laura pulls out of the gridlock to wait out the thunderstorm and rest a moment and ends up sleeping away the day in the parking lot of the Lone Star Café. When she wakes up and realizes the entire day slipped away, she panics. But the café's two owners, Mernalene and Hasselene, convince her to come in for some coffee. But much to her mortification, Laura promptly ends up tangled in the bushes with Hasselene after Hasselene loses her balance. Graham Keeton untangles them, and Laura flees in embarrassment.

In the tussle with the bushes, Laura lost her elderly father's checkbook. Graham calls later that night to tell her he found it. They plan to meet the following morning for coffee at the café so he can return it to her. During the next few days, they meet almost daily there, and Laura finds herself drawn to him. Definitely not her type, she still can't help but be intrigued by him.

Folks in Keetonville around the café hint at a dark secret, one that tortures Graham, but he refuses to open up. And Laura can't get into the debacle with Dale quite yet. Despite what seems like the start of something sweet, they pull apart, looking to move on with their lives, especially after Laura's boss calls to tell her to pack her bags -- a plush publisher job awaits in Hollywood. But a real estate crisis involving the café keeps Laura from hopping on a plane. And while trying to help Mernalene and Hasselene keep the restaurant, Laura realizes what she truly wants from life.

This wonderfully written tale features plenty of fun characters, the café owners in particular. Both Laura and Graham possess depth and flaws, which make them more real. The relationship between Laura and her father rings very true. Many children don't know much about their parents' past, but this trip to her father's roots helps Laura learn quite a bit about him. All in all, a fun read with a surprising amount of anguish and warmth.

Jen Foote

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