Gracie Lynne Calloway has lived in Southern Alabama since the day, as a newborn infant, she was deposited on her uncle's front step in a coal bucket. Though her mother never came back for her, Gracie found all the love and support she needed from her uncles Ben and Artie and her aunt Alice. Gracie has grown into a tomboy with a strong work ethic and little time for the softer emotions, and is constantly thwarting her aunt's efforts to entice her to settle down and raise a family. On Gracie's 25th birthday, a stranger named Sam arrives in town and delivers some shocking news. It turns out that Gracie isn't Gracie at all, but the kidnapped daughter of a millionaire, and since her father has recently passed away, Gracie is set to inherit $650 million. Although the money seems like a blessing, Gracie wants nothing to do with it and Sam has his work cut out for him. When Gracie's forgotten family gets news that she's alive and set to inherit her father's empire, things go from bad to worse. Now Sam has to figure out a way to make Gracie accept her new position and fortune despite her reluctance, and also find a way to ease his troubled heart that beats stronger every time Gracie is in the room. In this rags-to-riches Cinderella story, Marinello shares the story of one very stubborn protagonist who wishes to stay buried in obscurity when the unexpected knocks on her door.
I'm not sure this story worked for me. While I do love a good rags-to-riches tale with a southern feel, there were a few things that just rubbed me the wrong way. I did enjoy parts of the book and it would be misleading to say I didn't enjoy the story as a whole, but some things I discovered as I read were not all that pleasing nor rewarding for me.
While the story had a rich and evocative feel, I just couldn't get over Gracie's stubbornness. I frequently felt she was being contrary just for the sake of being contrary. Maybe the problem is I can't imagine a person wanting to turn down that kind of money. To me, it didn't feel realistic. On one hand, I understood that Gracie wanted to keep her past life intact and didn't want the complications that all this money would bring; but on the other, her family had need of the money and her hard-headed attempts to reject it didn't strike me as a particularly strong character decision. I also felt that Gracie was generally a very antagonistic person. She was always bucking the system and came off as very hard-boiled. She did adopt a softer attitude toward the latter sections of the book, but overall, I just didn't like her very much. She was a spitfire for sure, but I think I would have been more satisfied if she had been a little more emotionally available and gentle.
One thing I particularly liked was the strong family bonds and attachments that the characters had towards one another. There was a sort of cohesiveness to Gracie's second family that I felt was very genuine and touching. Though at times they hid the harsher facts of their lives from her, they seemed to do this for her peace of mind and to protect her from some of the unpleasantness of life. Though theirs was a strange arrangement, it worked for Gracie and it was easy to see why she had such strong ties to them. I liked that they were careful in the way they handled her and I felt their actions bespoke a great love for this orphaned child that they came to care for.
The relationship that began between Sam and Gracie was not hard to spot coming out of the gate, but I actually liked that aspect of the book. Sam was the impetus for change in Gracie and he taught her to be more genteel and soft, putting her rough exterior behind her. Though theirs was a relationship that began with a lot of lust, Marinello toned it down nicely in the middle of the book and it was easy to see why they were drawn to each other and fit together so nicely. Sam tempered something in Gracie, and though she tried to buck away from him, he was tenacious and persistent, ultimately forcing her to reveal a side of herself that was previously unseen.
I guess the main thing that bothered me was the implausibility of it all. Who in their right mind would turn down a fortune that was left to them? Why was everyone so bent on treating a twenty-five year old woman like a child, and why was Gracie such an unbelievable sourpuss all the time? While I was reading, I asked myself if these were realistic situations or was all this fabricated to make for a rollicking story, and I had to conclude that there was something over the top about all of it. It was interesting to see what would happen with it all but somehow the unrealistic aspects of the story made me hold the characters and their plights at arm's length.
Though there was a lot I enjoyed about this book, there were also things I felt were a bit overdone. Where I think Marinello succeeds is on her strong family creation and her ability to fashion a love story using some very headstrong characters. I would recommend this book to those looking for a fairy tale like story, and must conclude that there are readers out there who are a lot less picky than I am who would enjoy it. An interesting, if uneven tale.
|About The Author
Lorelle Marinello has won numerous awards for her writing, including the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart for Best Single Title Romance in 2005.
Lorelle received her BA in Fine Arts from San Diego State University. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. In her free time she enjoys landscape gardening and researching her family's Southern genealogy. Her first novel, Waltzing with Alligators, inspired by her Southern roots, debuted in 2008.
Find out more about Lorelle at her website.
|A warm thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing this book for me to read and review. Please continue to follow the tour by visiting these other blogs:
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.