This latest book by Nora Roberts is my favorite non-trilogy book I've read by her. Maybe I am a little biased. The main character is named Shelby, as is my daughter. She has red curly hair. I have red hair and would kill to have her curls. She also lives in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, which I have visited often when traveling to Kentucky to see my Dad's family. I can still picture the area in my mind. Its God's country.
Shelby, her husband Richard, and their three-year-old daughter, Callie were supposed to go on a boating vacation, but when Callie gets sick, Shelby stays behind with her and her husband goes ahead and becomes lost at sea, presumed dead. Soon, Shelby's eyes are opened up to what, if not who, her husband really is. Nothing has been paid for: not the cars, the house, the ugly furniture, even the jewelry turns out to be fake. She is left in millions of dollars worth of debt and she cannot go home. At least, not until she has paid as much off as she can. Inside of one of his jackets that she's preparing to sell at a consignment shop, she finds a safety deposit key and when she uses it to open the box, there are three fake IDs for Richard and $250,000. She takes all of it and leaves. She uses some of the money to pay off one of the eleven credit cards and buys a cheap van.
Now, its time to go home and face the music. When Shelby met Richard at a club she was singing at, during her summer break from college, he sweeps her off her feet and off to Vegas where they marry without telling anyone. Over the years, she would try to make trips to see her family, but Richard would not allow her to go and he had control over everything, including her life. She missed weddings, births, and funerals. Now that he is dead, she is ashamed that she let him control herself like that.
Her large family take her back and she makes amends with her old best friend Emma Kate who is living with her boyfriend, Matt, that she met while working as a nurse in Maryland. Matt's construction and home repair business partner, Grif, came along with him. Grif immediately falls for Shelby and while she thinks she may have feelings for him, she doesn't quite trust her judgment yet. Especially when a woman arrives in town saying that she is Richard's wife and that Shelby was just a cover for their scam operations with another guy who has just escaped from jail. They are looking for the three million dollars worth of diamonds and stamps they lifted from a woman five years ago. She does not believe that Shelby knows nothing about it. A PI is also sniffing around.
Shelby goes to work at her grandmother's beauty parlor part-time as a helper and sings on stage on Friday Nights, at the local bar that is owned by a friend she had in high school. With the exception of the death of the woman who was Richard's wife and the people who may be coming after her for the diamonds she does not have, her life is really beginning to come together. The debt is slowly coming down, she's with her large family again, and she's falling in love with a really great guy who will treat her right.
There is a threat looming over the horizon that will put it all in jeopardy. Is there any doubt that Shelby and Grif will get together? No. They do not even doubt it; its just a matter of time. Will you figure out the ending? Maybe. But that does not matter. Its such a joy getting there and these characters are so much fun to be around you will not mind if you have an idea of what is to come. This is truly a great book and one of her finest yet and the best way to start off your summer reading.
I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell