Leisure, Dec 2002, 5.99, 320 pp.
In 1894 Pepper Cloud Missouri, widow Maddy Potter plans to never remarry. Instead, Maddy is a do-gooder always rescuing some needy person or animal. Her latest charge, seven-year-old Katie, gets inside Maddy's heart so she wants to adopt the child, but knows a single woman has no chance of approval. She concocts a plot to insure her success because she believes that a female engaged to marry will persuade the adoption board into believing a man is there to take care of the child.
Maddy hires a gentleman to woo her, propose, but jilt her at the altar. Her friend sends her brother Clayton Kincaid to act as Maddy's beau. Clay thinks that Maddy is another of his mother's matchmaking ploys, but after seeing her in a revealing dress, he agrees to her whirlwind courtship idea. As Maddy and Clay fall in love, he doubts that her home is safe enough to raise a child. Even if it costs him his heart he will insure that Katie is protected.
What makes Winnie Grimes latest tale more than just an enjoyable late nineteenth century Americana romance is the eccentric cast who bring to life the era as few novels do. Maddy is a delightful character using the armor of widowhood to fend off males and to enable her to live an off-center lifestyle. Maddy's bunkmates (human and animal) provide the means for the audience to see Maddy. Clay has flaws, “debts”, and concerns that turn him into a caring person. Sub-genre fans will win with the amusing with a serious underlying theme WHATEVER IT TAKES.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner