If you like good, clean, mid-life chick-lit fun, then you'll enjoy HOT TROPICS & COLD FEET, the sequel to RV THERE YET? and HOT FLASHES & COLD CREAM.
The four "Latte Girls" are back, trading barbs and wit and coping with midlife. Maggie Hayden's living-back-home-again college-age son Nick seems to have a future only as a professional video game player, and he's making Maggie and her husband Gordon crazy. Nick eats them out of house and home, leaving a trail of clutter in his wake.
Her friend Jill, the fitness queen, is suddenly (and annoyingly) after the women to shape up and eat right. And although Jill is married, her "casual" friendship with a fitness trainer is raising question marks in everyone's mind. And why is the most toned of the foursome feeling a little off? Is something wrong with Jill?
Louise maintains her size-10 figure and well-maintained look while pushing Mary Kay cosmetics on everyone ("…Mary Kay skin products can keep your face as soft as a baby's bottom.") But Louise's husband's new conversion to Christianity is driving her crazy; "he's acting all superior and self-righteous." She's not sure how to cope.
The cold feet in the title belong to the widowed Lily, who is engaged to Ron ("Captain"). Her future daughter-in-law is kicking up a fuss, however, and Lily is having second thoughts. Should she come between a dad and his daughter? And is she marrying Captain because he reminds her of her first husband? Or does she really love him?
When the Latte Girls have difficult problems to solve, they like to hit the road. This time it's Siesta Key, where they do the expected things people do in Florida and a little bit more: jet ski, pedal a surrey, parasail, rollerblade, get henna tattoos, have their hair cornrowed, and make the rounds of the local tourist attractions. Maggie gets a chance to indulge her Donnie Osmond fixation at a concert, which threatens to become a full-blown obsession. Anyone who grew up listening to "Puppy Love" will relate.
When the reasons for Jill's odd behavior finally surface, the menopausal women are in for a shock. "This being friends thing can work havoc on the nerves," muses Maggie.
The plot of HOT TROPICS & COLD FEET moves along through lots of dialogue and banter. All the midlife issues are here: hot flashes, second marriages, adult children living at home, unwanted facial hair, mood swings, coffee and chocolate. Diann Hunt keeps up a running patter of jokes and asides that will tickle many readers' funny bones.
Maggie's musings on exercise provide some of the best moments: "It takes me a good fifteen minutes every day to twist, tug, bend, and work my panty hose all the way up to my waist. Trust me, once those babies are on, I've surpassed my target heart rate."
There are some Christian insider jokes ("you could be another Chondra Pierce") and a few groaners ("I redistribute my weight and can almost hear the bag groan [the suitcase, not Lily])." Sometimes, the text feels a little instructional, such as a section on sea turtles or a preachy page or two on the importance of annual exams. But, although the pacing slows toward the end, this won't stop readers from enjoying another zany adventure of the Latte Girls.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on November 13, 2011