Meant To Be
by Mildred Riley, historical (2003)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-422-6

Trivia fans, take note: yes, this is a historical romance from Arabesque. Is this a first?

Set at the time when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, this story revolves around nurse Maribeth Trumbull. She's a nurse in a hospital in Boston. She wanted to be a teacher once, among other things, but racial discrimination sees her being where she is today. One day, she comes across a dead boxer and she feels that his death is a little bit too suspicious to be considered accidental. She decides to play Nancy Drew, inadvertently roping in cop Ben Daniels to aid her.

Maybe I should say this before I go on: Meant To Be is actually more of an amateur sleuth mystery with a bit of romance rather than a straight up romance novel. Readers expecting a straight up romance novel may get impatient with the author's focusing on Maribeth's investigations rather than her relationship with Ben. There is romance between Maribeth and Ben, but it's clearly not the main focus of this story.

Not that I'm complaining. The mystery is simply constructed actually and to be honest, Meant To Be won't be winning any awards soon in innovation in mystery and suspense. However, I enjoy reading this book for more than the novelty value of it. I really like Maribeth. She's a plucky can't-get-me-down heroine whose enthusiasm is infectious. I also like the nice little details that add to the 1940s atmosphere, although a little more about how World War 2 is affecting their lives will be nice.

A pleasant book that is much better written that the author's last book, Meant To Be is a nice and easy read. I have to admit that I am not sure how much of my enjoyment lies on this book being a charming little novelty (a historical Arabesque, wow) that sheds some enjoyable insight into a section of the population rarely touched by mainstream fiction and how much lies on the actual strengths of this book. So either way, it's a guarded recommendation from me on this one.

Rating: 78

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