Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stealing Home - Sherryl Woods


Stealing Home
The Sweet Magnolias
Sherryl Woods
Mira

Women’s Fiction

As far as Maddie Townsend was concerned, family life in Serenity, South Caroline couldn’t get much better. Her husband, Bill, was a respected local doctor; her son Tyler, 16, is a star on the high school baseball team; her middle son Kyle 14, is a non-stop joker; and little Katie 6 was a welcome surprise. Her shock is understandable when, one night over the dinner table, Bill announces that he’s leaving Maddie. For his 24-year-old nurse. Who is pregnant. Pulling herself together for the kids’ sakes gets her through the announcement and watching her high school sweetheart and husband of twenty years move out of the home they’d shared.

As might be expected, the kids’ personalities change. Tyler starts acting out and failing at school, Kyle becomes an introvert, and Katie simply cries. Fortunately for Maddie, she has friends all around her. Dana Sue, a chef, offers moral support; and Helen, an attorney on a mission, takes up the fight when Maddie feels too beaten down to do it herself. Maddie needs to reorganize her life, and her friends are there to help with that, too. Dana Sue and Helen decide to provide financial backing for a women-only spa, and Maddie will run the place.

Cal Maddox was a professional baseball player. Now he coaches the high school team in Serenity. He sees what’s happening with Tyler and reaches out to help him. In doing so, Cal and Maddie inevitably get close. That might seem ideal, but small towns harbor severe double standards for divorcing men (with pregnant girlfriends) and divorcing women. Even without the outside pressures, Maddie isn’t at all sure this is a good idea. Cal is almost ten years younger than she is. And the children have refused to have anything to do with their father because of his new girlfriend. If Maggie and Cal go public, the school board may weigh in, but, more importantly, what effect will it have on her kids?

Any of the above circumstances could be written as standard clichés. In the hands of this skilled author, however, they all play as realistic and shaded events. Maddie is a great character: a woman blindsided by a divorce, trying to hold it all together for her kids, but still needing a life for herself. The author clearly knows small town life. While the gossip mill is swift and pitiless, there are still friends and neighbors willing to lend a hand or moral support in times of crisis. There are some eccentric Southern characters, adding flavor to the mix. There are more books planned in the series, and I find that I’m looking forward to them.

Rating: 7 ½
February 2007
ISBN# 978-0-7783-2363-1 (paperback)

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