From Publishers Weekly
Romance novels promise happiness only after struggle and heartache, and with her fifth book, Mandel (Change of Heart) delivers as expected, but with a twist. New York private school teacher Anna Marie Bolles has suffered from intermittent bouts of MS for five years. She's constructed her life to accommodate her disease: she lives with her spirited, fiercely loyal mother in Manhattan; she teaches English at the high school where she herself was a student; and she's almost entirely given up the athletics she used to love. But just when it seems MS is all she has, she wheels herself into the American Institute of Photography and meets strikingly handsome 31-year-old Joe Malone, businessman-cum-photographer. The chemistry is so intense that when Anna describes him to her mother later, she can only wail, "He swept me off my feet, Ma... and I wasn't even on my feet." But Anna has not done her emotional homework, and the rest of the narrative is a monotonous will-she-or-won't-she dance as she tries to reconcile her fears about a future with MS with her hopes for a future with Joe. The secondary characters in Anna's life are well drawn, and Mandel treats her readers to enjoyable subplots involving Anna's dastardly father, Joe's neglected father (a pilot who started the charter airline Joe works for), a womanizing headmaster and a glamorous femme fatale. Unfortunately, Joe is so devoted and selfless that he's bland, and much of the narrative tension derives from the progress of Anna's MS rather than of her romance. But if largely predictable, the novel succeeds as a moving and satisfying love story. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In a romance that will entice and satisfy readers of mainstream or "substantial" fiction, Mandel's beautiful heroine, a twenty-nine-year-old teacher, and the dashingly gorgeous hero, an airline pilot-owner and photographer, joined by the cruel presence of multiple sclerosis. Anna Bolles, formerly very athletic, thinks she has come to terms with her MS, but when she visits a photography exhibit she is swept off her feet by Joe Malone and one of his photographs, an epiphany that throws her plans of living quietly with her disease into utter disarray. Mandel masterfully depicts MS and its depredations and brings a cast of secondary characters, which are essential to portraying a convincing relationship, vibrantly to life, from Anna's unforgettably foul-mouthed mother to Joe's dad, who can "fix anything," to the school-faculty bully. Mandel's newest is a robust novel filled with laughter and tears that is ideal for readers who only think they don't like romances. Diana Tixier Herald