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A Piece of Heaven Hardcover – February 4, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Emotional crises abound in Samuel's second novel (after No Place Like Home), set in the deceptively peaceful hills around Taos, N.Mex. Luna McGraw, who still wears her AA pin, lost custody of her daughter, Joy, eight years ago; at 15, Joy is about to come live with her again, and Luna is nervously trying to quit smoking, get her life in order and be an upstanding parent-or at least look like one. Thomas Coyote, Luna's new love interest, is still reeling from his former wife's affair with his own brother. Joy is fascinated by her mother's free-spirited life and the budding relationship with Thomas, but she misses her stepmother and stepsiblings. She's also furious with her philandering father, who has cheated on both of his wives. Luna's mother, Kitty, though now happily married to a loving millionaire, is still haunted by memories of Luna's father, who walked out on the family decades ago. Luna's sister, Elaine, has a poor self-image and a weight problem. Even Joy's new friend, Maggie, is struggling with her own mother's severe depression and her grief over her father's accidental death. Samuel is adept at keeping the tone light in spite of this unrelieved angst, though some may still find the novel a bit overwrought. Her use of Maggie's diary entries to tie up the story's loose ends also strikes an amateurish chord. Yet the humorously self-effacing characters and sensitive exploration of family relationships ensure the book's appeal to readers of women's fiction.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Luna McGraw, a recovering alcoholic and former counselor, supports herself by working in the florist department of the local grocery store. Thomas Coyote, a twice-divorced adobe maker, collects strays, both human and animal. He and Luna cross paths at the same time that Luna's 15-year-old daughter moves in with her after an eight-year absence. Now Luna has to fight her overwhelming need for liquor and cigarettes, as well as her attraction to Thomas, while she comes to grips with her daughter's being very much attached to her stepmother. Samuel (No Place Like Home) has created truly three-dimensional characters, filled with flaws, strengths, and idiosyncrasies. (The reader will never look at Barbie dolls the same way again.) As lyrical as a Spanish ballad, peppered with Southwestern metaphors and allusions, and written in a style evocative of Barbara Kingsolver at her best, this is a book that libraries of all sizes will want to add to their women's fiction and romance collections.
Shelley Mosley, Glendale P.L., AZ
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345445678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345445674
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barbara Samuel (O'Neal) has won the highly prestigious RITA award from Romance Writers of America 7 times and has been recently inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. In the tradition of Kristin Hannah, Susan Wiggs, Maeve Binchy, and Barbara Freethy, she writes a highly emotional stories about families, food, dogs, and love. Many of her novels include recipes, and she has been known to cook in response to any stressful situation, learning that cooking is like life--sometimes things go wrong, but if you keep trying, eventually you'll get it right.

She also writes as Barbara O'Neal for Bantam books, where she has penned the award-winning The Lost Recipe For Happiness and How To Bake A Perfect Life, which was a Target Book Club Pick in 2011. She also wrote five titles of romantic women's fiction for Ballantine Books, including No Place Like Home, The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue and Lady Luck's Map of Vegas. Her books have been translated into many languages and published widely around the world, including France, England, Poland, Australia, Italy, Germany, Brazil, and many others.

Barbara lives in the stunningly beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he'll never loose his accent.

She loves to talk with readers. Find her around the web in these avenues:

Websites: http://barbarasamuel.com and http://barbaraoneal.com
Blog: http://awriterafoot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraSamuelONeal
Twitter: https://twitter.com/barbaraoneal
The Goddess Blogs: http://thegoddessblogs.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"A Piece of Heaven" is one of the most sensuous and poetic books I've ever read. The language is lyrical, full of vivid colors and imagery, tender and fiery at just the right moments. I couldn't put it down!
At the center are Luna McGraw, a divorced mother and recovering alcoholic who once lost custody of her teenage daughter, and Thomas Coyote, a big, gentle, mixed-blood Indian man who's trying to get over his own painful divorce. He falls in love with Luna right away and she is irresistibly drawn to him, but afraid of getting hurt and jeopardizing her fragile relationship with her daughter. Thomas's patient, gentle kindness seems too good to be true and Luna has to overcome her own fears and let him love her.
The setting is Tao, New Mexico, but it seems dreamy and timeless. This book deserves to be read again and again!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Barbara Samuel has done it again - written a book that has a wonderful story without being a formula of her previous book. Luna McGraw, a former therapist, a recovering alcoholic, and in the midst of trying to quit smoking is working in the floral department of the local supermarket in Taos, New Mexico. Luna's life is finally becoming balanced again when she meets Thomas Coyote, the man she's had a crush on for years, and when her daughter, Joy, comes to live with her. The story is lyrical and luscious. Samuel brings New Mexico to the reader in a way that makes you want to go there and visit if not to live.
I think it's a mistake to classify Samuel's books as "romance." They are more than that. But if you like romance novels (not that there's anything wrong with that), then fine. And if you don't, please try this one. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find this wonderful artist who takes words and weaves them into a literary treat.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In some senses I like this better than No Place Like Home, because it was not quite so cluttered with so many characters, and the narrative was in the third person. Both were excellent. In this novel we don't quite have the narrator's quirky sense of humour to cope with the terrible times in life, but in a lot of respects it is more upbeat. I love Luna and Thomas; they are a terrific couple, really HOT and Taos New Mexico is really brought to life. Her daughter is a wonderful character too and also the secondary characters Tiny and Maggie.
It is not a perfect book, but it is really excellent. I read it in one sitting, just like her first. This one will not make you cry gallons, though. It is much more upbeat. The use of Maggie the teen's diary is I think the only weak part in the book, since I really wanted more of a smoochy scene with Luna and Thomas at the end of the novel. But then I am an avid romance reader. One other minor flaw is the start of the book really lurched a bit and could have benefitted from a much better editor who could pick up the niggling little errors like what time the daughter's flight landed.
This book is an excellent cross over thought for women who like good fiction, and anyone looking for a book which affirms the healing power of love and the fact that god really does work in mysterious ways. All I can say is, I can't wait for her next one!
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By A Customer on February 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Luna McGraw lost custody of her daughter when her husband took her to court with proof that she was an unfit mother because of her drinking. After four years of out of control alcoholic bingeing, she hit rock bottom and finally entered rehab. Now she is four years sober and her ex-husband has transferred custody of their daughter Joy to her. Luna looks on this as a second chance to be the mother that her daughter needs but she is scared that she will fail her.
Thomas Coyote is a two-time loser in the divorce wars. His second wife cheated on him with his brother after they learned Thomas is sterile; now she is pregnant and married to his sibling. The last thing he wants to do is fall in love for the third time but when he meets Luna, the attraction is electrifying. Luna feels the same way but she is fighting it because she fears rejection from her daughter as much as from Thomas.
A PIECE OF HEAVEN is a beautiful love story starring two scarred individuals who still have issues from previous relationships they have to resolve before they can think of coming together. The likable characters are realistically drawn, especially Joy who is wise beyond her years. Barbara Samuel has written a relationship drama that will appeal to fans of Kristin Hannah and Barbara Delinsky.
Harriet Klausner
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
characters + setting + details + humor + humanity = five stars for me. I loved this book and am emailing all my friends. I hope future ones are just as good. As a side note, the covers don't reflect the gritty, humorous, real prose inside. If I was picking it up based on the cover I'd expect a quiet story about love and loss in a happy neighborhood. This, it is not.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, but there were a couple of things that were a little off. First of all, how can one woman have an almost suicide, an almost murder and a death all in one week!! I thought her daughter was just too good to be true. She was much nicer than any teenage girls I know. The constant discussion of wanting a cigarette got really tedious but thankfully eased towards the end. This book made me want to visit Taos. It sounds like a lovely place! I think Ms. Samuel is a terrific writer and I look forward to reading more from her.
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