Finished 3-12-12, rating 4.5/5, southern fiction/romance, 414 pages, pub. 1997
Pampered Claire has been in love with Bad Boy Roan since she was five and he stood up for her against a bully. The two were an unlikely pair, especially given their five year age difference. Their friendship caused tongues to wag and Claire’s parents concern, but it remained and strengthened until Roan proved himself worthy and Claire’s family took him in. Five years later they would send him away not knowing what became of him. It’s twenty years later and Claire is all grown up and has never forgotten Roan or quite forgiven her parents, but her life has gotten complicated and she must return home to her childhood home and to her family.
This is one of those wonderful stories about love, redemption, acceptance, secrets, and family. It is a love story, but it is much more than that too. Claire is from a huge family and I can relate, although I’m an only child I have 14 first cousins and a whole lotta seconds and thirds. Claire couldn’t do anything in her small southern Georgia town without a relative knowing about it – she even had three lively grandmothers living in her house. I loved the multigenerational feel of the book, the feeling of a deep connection to the land and the people. It was warm and inviting.
As much as I enjoyed Claire and her family it was Roan’s story that broke your heart and made you want to keep reading. Roan, who grew up poor, filthy, beaten, and judged because his father was the town embarrassment. When Roan disappeared you just knew he would make something of himself, but how and why did he stay away? The reason was one I didn’t quite see coming and it made this book more than a great romance with something extra, a great story.
I loved this one. The characters were all well-developed, even the secondary ones. It was great comfort reading as I’ve come to expect from Deborah Smith. I’ve read several other of her novels, but this is ny favorite. One thing of note, Claire was a reporter but she didn’t know what had become of Roan those twenty years and I kept thinking, “Just Google him!” or “He’s gotta be on Facebook.” Isn’t it funny how technology can intrude on a perfectly lovely story?
If you like romances like the old Lavyrle Spencer novels or great southern reading I highly recommend this one.
Thsi was from my personal library.