by Suzann Ledbetter

June 2000
ISBN: 1-55166-597-2
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books
Mass Market Paperback

What do you do if you wake up one morning and decide that you've been doing the wrong thing for the past 20-odd years? Well, if you're successful advertising executive Hannah Garvey, you pack up your fiercely stylish apartment in Chicago, quit your job, and accept a position offered by a friend - that of resident manager of an exclusive retirement development tucked away in the Missouri Ozarks.

If this sounds like the premise for a television situation comedy, it might well be! But here, it's the premise for fun and games in the countryside, involving not only Hannah, but also a cast of characters that fairly screams "weirdo"!!! Hannah's first memorable encounter is with local law enforcement - the sheriff catches her speeding! Her car slows down, but her heart speeds up as she realizes the tall hunk of masculinity trading quips with her through her car window is mouth-wateringly adorable. Unfortunately, he's probably younger too! Did that ever stop a good romance between people who are destined to be together? Nah!!!

Of course there are trials and tribulations, mostly minor, but when one of the senior residents is bludgeoned to death - matters take a serious turn. Sheriff Hedrickson must solve a vicious crime while pursuing Hannah, and Hannah must deal with a group of her seniors who have decided to help the Sheriff by solving the murder themselves. Surrounded by budding Miss Marples, and elderly gentlemen who turn into Mike Hammer at the drop of a hat, would be enough to drive anybody to drink, but it is a definite part of Hannah's charm that she appreciates these dear dotty folks for the warm-hearted, public-spirited citizens they are.

I bought this book after reading the third in the series, North of Clever (South of Sanity is the second). I enjoyed North of Clever so much that I had to dig around until I could find the other two, and I wasn't disappointed. If you're looking for a lighthearted, loving romance, which features a murder mystery and some adorable secondary characters who nearly steal the whole shebang out from Hannah and her Sheriff, then this is definitely one book you should make a point of reading! (I note that Suzann Ledbetter has several non-fiction books to her credit, one of which is called "I Have Everything I Had Twenty Years Ago, Except Now It's All Lower". Could anyone who wrote a book with this title, write a bad book? Nah!!)

Reviewed in February 2002 by Celia.

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