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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sweet Water

****½ Sweet Water by Anna Jeffrey. Contemporary romance.

One of the problems with a large TBR pile--by the time I get to a book that I bought the minute it was released, it's over a year old.

I've been a fan of Anna Jeffrey's since The Love of a Cowboy showed up in my mailbox over 3 years ago. She has a way of combining romance and women's fiction--that is, romance, but with serious undertones--that really grabs me. Sweet Water is the kind of story I expect from Anna Jeffrey.

Marisa Rutherford has come home to take care of her mother, who has Alzheimer's, and finds herself in charge of not only her mother and her small diner, but of the entire group of misfits who call the tiny West Texas town of Agua Dulce home.

The town's already-shaky stability is threatened, however, when it's sold on ebay. Seems one man owned most of the town, and after his death, his widow took the easiest solution. Now everyone's coming to Marisa for help.

Terry Ledger is a real estate speculator, and he knows he's taking a risk by buying the town, but it's a risk that will pay off big, if everything goes well. All he has to do is deal with one woman, and everyone else will fall in line. The trouble is, she's an awfully hard woman to resist.

Sweet Water is full of realism--the inhabitants of Agua Dulce are eccentric, to say the least, but they're the kind of people who would cluster together in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere.

One example--they're realistically poor. None of this faux-poverty you see all the time in books or on TV--people who are "poor" but can manage to spring for designer shoes or last-minute flights or who have a secret stash of priceless heirlooms they just can't bear to sell. These people are making ends meet, but those ends are awfully frayed.

They're also realistic in their eccentricity, not caricatures or "types." And their relationships are likewise realistic. Marisa herself had been having an unstructured relationship with a state trooper...until he tells her he's getting married to someone else...the same day that Terry Ledger shows up in town.

Marisa and Terry are an unlikely couple, and they have a long way to go to make a relationship work, and that, too, is handled realistically. There's no whirlwind romance here. There's attraction and mistrust and growing respect and setbacks and compromises. It's definitely a love story I could believe.

Now to go look for Salvation, Texas. I expect to enjoy that one, too.


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