Nicole Baart is a master of weaving stories about the complexity, beauty and heartache of human relationships with delicious prose. Her ninth novel, Sleeping in Eden (Howard Books) is no exception.

It’s a story of two seemingly unconnected storylines told in alternating chapters that are destined for collision. The moment you start reading you are drawn in and want to find out how and when the two stories meet. The result? This novel is one part murder mystery and one part richly developed, character-driven, resonating literary fiction.

Dr. Lucas Hudson is a family doctor in a sleepy Iowa town. His marriage to Jenna, a social worker, is unraveling after the loss of their infant daughter and the disappearance of a troubled teen whom Jenna had been trying to help.

While filling in for the coroner on the suicide of the town drunk, skeletal remains of a young woman are found beneath the hanging body. The search to find out who she is brings Lucas down a winding path that he hopes more than anything will rekindle his dying marriage.

Meanwhile, Meg is growing up in a separate Iowa town, and coming of age with all the multifaceted rites of passage common to teenage girls. The most defining is her torn desires over who it is her heart truly beats for. She is drawn to Dylan, the fun-loving product of a highly dysfunctional family, but also to Jess, the safe, boy-next-door, who has been in love with Meg since boyhood.

Meg wants to love the all-American good guy who plainly adores her, but Dylan enthralls and intrigues her. And then there is the matter of the ring Jess gives her, inscribed with the word “Mine,” on its underside. How does someone know who it is they ultimately belong with? Do you decide who you love, or do you discover the person who already owns your heart?

Meg’s choices in the past ultimately crash into Lucas’s discoveries in the present and the result brings to the forefront all that can happen when human weaknesses like jealousy, need, rage and bitterness collide with our better natures like love, forgiveness and empathy.

This is the perfect book for the person who loves intrigue and the pull of a whodunnit but also the character-rich detail not often found in the mystery genre.

The best feature of any Nicole Baart book is her masterful way with words; her intelligent turns-of-phrase, delectable word choices, and consuming sensory descriptions. You can’t help but get lost in the settings and scenes – every facet of them – because her ability to take you in is flawless. You won’t want to stop with just this one, and lucky for you, she’s got lots more on her shelves for you.

Sleeping In Eden is available for purchase.

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Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of nine novels, including, most recently, You Were Always Mine.

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