by Curtiss Ann Matlock

October 2004
ISBN: 0-7783-2091-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books
Trade Paperback

“On my way, just passing through, looking for real life - wish her well” were the words scrawled on a bathroom wall and the words that ended up changing Claire Wilder’s life. Claire finally realized she didn’t even know what real life was anymore but it certainly wasn’t the legal secretary job she’d had forever; the townhouse that didn’t even feel like home and certainly not her ex-husband Andrew who was planning on marrying a much younger woman. So it was, that Claire set out on a journey to Valentine, Oklahoma to find the father she hasn’t seen since childhood and maybe along the way to find herself.

Arriving in Valentine, Claire ends up renting a room at the Goodnight Motel for a few nights until she feels her way around town and finds out more information about her family. Of course she had no idea that on her first night there, her car would be stolen and she’d meet up with a young woman who would change her life.

As Claire begins to search for her father, she finds very little information but makes a bunch of friends along the way and after only a few weeks, she is thinking that Valentine may be what she has been searching for her entire life. After all, life doesn’t get much better than a vibrating bed, real strawberry milkshakes, dancing til her feet hurt at the Little Opry and finding friends that she never wants to be without. This is when Claire decides that she’d like to buy the vintage motel that she is staying at and start a new life in Valentine.

Claire quickly fills her days with helping out her new pregnant friend, doing general repairs at the Goodnight and thinking up new ways of bringing in more business, when into town drives Andrew to convince her to come back to Shreveport. Andrew spends a few weeks helping Claire out and even helps stop a burglary gone bad, but it isn’t long before even he realizes that for the first time in a long time, Claire is happy. She is no longer a part of his life in Louisiana but instead is a down-home person and that she’s found a town that is ready to bring her into their midst.

When I think of southern fiction, Curtiss Ann is always an author that comes to mind for me and once again I was not disappointed. Not only do we get to return to one of my favorite fiction places on earth – Valentine, Oklahoma, where we get to catch up with all the characters we’ve grown to love. We get a chance to watch a wonderful women take a journey that leads her to the home she has always dreamed of. Before the last page was finished, I had tears running down my cheeks. I can’t wait til next Fall when I can read the next Matlock book!

Reviewed in September 2004 by Shelby.

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