by Deborah Smith

February 2004
ISBN: 0-316-80587-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Little, Brown and Company

Deborah Smith is known for heartwarming stories that depict Southern towns and families. Readers have come to expect emotional journeys of discovery filled with tears and laughter. Charming Grace wonít disappoint her loyal readers. It should win her a legion of new ones.

Grace Vance has been grieving for her husband, Harp, for two years, ever since he was gunned down on an Atlanta hospital rooftop while trying to save the occupants from a mad bomber. The whole world had watched Harpís heroic struggle. Only Grace knew Harpís struggle all his life to fit in a world that scorned him until he died for it. She has vowed not to let Stone Senterra make a mockery of her husbandís life and death.

Boone Noleene has fought against a world determined to make him into a loser. He works for Senterra as a bodyguard. Heís an ex-con who builds houses in his dreams. Ex-beauty queen, Grace Vance, is his dream girl come true. Boone understands Graceís need to keep her husbandís legacy untainted by Hollywood. Heís caught between Stone and Grace, loyal to one and loving the other.

Together, the beauty queen and the ex-con learn that prisons arenít always made with bars and brick. Love holds the key to freedom and that honor and loyalty arenít just vague concepts. They are words spoken by those who believe and have the courage to fight for them.

Deborah Smithís graceful writing style is lyrical and flowing. It murmurs like a quiet brook in certain chapters. In other chapters, itís as overwhelming as the fastest rapids. Grace starts the story mired in her grief and loss. She is still looking back instead of forward. Boone is caught up in circumstances that he has tried to escape all of his life. As each moment unfolds, we see them both mature and move towards each other and the future. All the secondary characters were as well developed as the main characters. They were fitting catalysts for helping the relationship move forward. Even Graceís deceased husband, Harp, becomes a presence in the book.

Find a comfortable chair. Make sure you have a drink and some snacks within reach. When you start reading Charming Grace , you wonít want to put it down.

Reviewed in January 2004 by Jenni.

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