Card sharp and former wild child Hallie Palmer is in college now-and Bernard Stockton, her legal guardian, has suddenly appeared during final exams. He's hysterical about his recent breakup with his longtime boyfriend, Gil, and wants to enlist Hallie in a scheme to win Gil back. So Hallie returns to Cosgrove County, Ohio, for the summer, to her job as live-in yard person for Bernard and his delightfully oddball mother, Olivia. Also present are Ottavio, Olivia's hot-tempered Italian lover, who's desperate for a wedding; Rocky, a chimpanzee who's one Singapore Sling away from an AA meeting for primates; and Hallie's own ever-expanding family, which she fled as soon as she could slide down the drainpipe.
Around town, folks assume that since Hallie isn't in jail, she clearly has no problems of her own and can therefore tackle theirs. But Hallie has plenty of troubles-a looming tuition bill, gambling temptations, and an ex-boyfriend who's back in town for the summer to upset any potential if highly unlikely (a girl can dream!) romantic flings.
Yet as Hallie and company navigate life's unexpected paths of games lost and love found, the real truth begins to emerge: With friends, family, and a place to call home, your heart's desire is always within reach.
In this disappointing sequel to Beginner's Luck, spunky teen Hallie Palmer is finishing up her first year at the Cleveland Art Institute, juggling student loans, finals and the ever present dilemma of when and how to lose her virginity. Amid her troubles, Hallie is called upon by her former quasi-guardian, Bernard Stockton, to help him win back his boyfriend, Gill, so she agrees to stay with him once again and earn money doing garden work for the summer. (Bernard still shares a home with his 60-something, pornography-writing, cause-driven mother, Olivia, and her Italian live-in lover, Ottavio, as well as with Olivia's unpredictable pet chimpanzee, Rocky.) As a sign of changing times, Hallie's harried mom asks for her help with Louise, Hallie's party girl younger sister. Gill contemplates leaving his gay lifestyle to marry a woman and start a family, Bernard decides he wants to adopt a Chinese baby and Hallie can't get sex off the brain. Though Pedersen tries hard to match the zany, madcap atmosphere of Beginner's Luck, the sequel lacks the fresh spirit and charm that made its predecessor so winning. (July)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
July 24, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Heart's Desire by Laura Pedersen
Someone cracks open the bedroom door. "Hallie? Are you in there?"
Upon hearing the familiar voice I wake slightly and assume that I'm having weird dreams due to excessive body heat. Lying next to me is my boyfriend, Ray. And on the other side is Vanessa. I push down the blanket.
"Hallie, are you up?" the voice comes again.
Only now I'm definitely hearing and not dreaming Bernard's stage whisper. And also smelling the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee with a hint of vanilla. Wakefulness and reality strike simultaneously. "Oh my gosh!" I shout, and raise my head off the pillow. "What time is it? I have an exam at eight!"
The only thing that's not surprising is to find Bernard Stockton in the hallway of my apartment. After all, he's the one who'd saved me when I was sliding down the slippery slope of adolescent rebellion the previous fall by taking me on as a live-in yard person. And now at least one weekend a month he arrives early and cooks us all a big brunch. Only this isn't Saturday or Sunday. It's Wednesday of finals week after my first year of college.
Bernard opens the door the rest of the way and steps inside the room. "It's just after seven," he says. But his voice is hesitant and hoarse, like a record being played at the wrong speed, and I can tell immediately that something is terribly wrong. Normally he would be trilling "Rise and shine!" like Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. Not only that, he must have awoken at five in the morning to make the one-hour drive to Cleveland.
"What's the matter--I mean, I'm coming. . . ." I start to climb out from my position as pickle in the middle. "Um, could I meet you in the kitchen?"
"Oh, yes, of course. How indelicate of me." His footsteps become faint and then I hear him tackle the mess of dirty pots and pans in the kitchen.
After stumbling around the minefield of packed duffel bags and piles of dirty clothes for a few minutes I finally find a pair of sweatpants to pull on. No surprise to discover a bunch of unpaid bills and parking tickets scattered beneath them. I'll be lucky if the repo man isn't towing my car away at this very moment.
The whole place smells like old pizza and even older laundry. As I pass the living room the sound of loud snoring comes from behind stacks of books and model cardboard buildings that rise in the middle of the floor to form a miniature skyline. A closer look reveals my roommate Debbie and her boyfriend Daniel asleep on the couch, surrounded by notebooks and empty pizza boxes. It's a memorial to unfinished group projects everywhere.
In the kitchen Bernard has lined up his numerous shopping bags on the floor, since there's no available space on the countertops or table. Those are covered in a collagelike mishmash of art supplies, stained coffee mugs, and overdue book notices. Fortunately, he's accustomed to the mess. With four busy young women sharing three rooms and all the various friends and boyfriends hanging about, housekeeping rarely rises above the minimum required for pest control. Particularly during exam time, when everyone is cramming for finals and working like crazy to finish papers and art projects.
I rub the sleep from my eyes. "What's wrong? Is it Olivia?" Though I'd called Bernard's sixtyish mother the night before to ask her a grammar question for a paper I was writing, or at least attempting to write, and she'd sounded fine.
Bernard stops whipping eggs in the shiny metal mixing bowl he brought from home, bows his head, and shuts his eyes as if in pain.
I stop in my tracks and stare at Bernard, waiting for his answer while growing increasingly worried. For he was, as they said of Odysseus, a man never at a loss. Only in Bernard's case, when faced with adversity he was rarely without a witty remark and an audacious plan, though it was oftentimes one he'd seen in a movie.
Finally Bernard exhales for the entire State of Ohio and says, "It's Gil."