by Bonnie Drury

August 2003
ISBN: 1-59279-139-5
Reviewer Graphic Button Amber Quill Press

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Jolene Springer has a secret. One that made her run away from her hometown of Sunrise, Arkansas years ago. She ran to get away from the guilt and shame. But she also ran away from her first love. A plea from her grandfather brings her home again. To face guilt, shame and love. To find out what place they have in her life. She only plans on staying a few days. She has a fulfilling job in Sacramento waiting for her. A big city life that leaves her feeling lonely and empty by the end of the day.

Will Bradley has loved Jolene since they first met. He could never give her what she needed back then. In desperation, Will turns to another in the years following Jolene's departure. There was no relief there. Now, Jolene's back in town and he has to decide if he wants to open his heart to her again. Is he strong enough to risk her leaving him? Like she did all those years ago. Can he find the compromise between his medical practice and the devotion that Jolene needs?

That's only one of the problems that Jolene and Will face in Sunrise, Arkansas. Jolene must deal with her fear by facing down the one who caused it. She needs to learn to open her heart. Will must find a way to meld his medical practice and his relationship with Jolene into a situation that makes both of them happy. Jolene's family is coming to grips with shame. Maybe Jolene does deserve love in her life.

Ozark Dwan is a heartwarming story about a woman learning to forgive herself and her family. Jolene matures throughout the story in ways that free her from the past. Will discovers how much love hurts, but also how it fills the empty spots in our lives. All of the characters are well written. They all seem to have a place in the story. The tension created by her stepfather is a little forced, but there has to be closure to that relationship.

Jolene and Will learn during the course of the story that love forgives the mistakes, the guilt and the shame. Love accepts all of that with open arms and gives back confidence and hope.

Reviewed in September 2003 by Jenni.

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