Get past this ridiculous title and you're going to find a treat. Best friends for twenty-three of their twenty-eight years, Julia Richardson asks Dallas Parker to go with her to their hometown of Cannons Crossing, Georgia. She needs his strength and unconditional support when she tells her pillar-of-the-community parents that she's jobless and
pregnant . . . by a married man.
Julia has been living in Boston, while Dallas has been achieving national fame as a rodeo star. Their friendship has remained strong, although their backgrounds are disparate. Julia's parents, particularly her father, have always considered Dallas beneath them. The Richardsons and the town have never let Dallas forget that he's a bastard. For the past ten years, Dallas has been excelling on the rodeo circuit and has been three-time
National Champion. His career is essentially over, though; he's hurt and
When Dallas suggests that Julia's troubles will be over if she marries him,
it sounds like a good idea. These two are best friends. What neither takes into account is how their friendship will change when passion rears its head. Suddenly shy and afraid to be honest with each other, their relationship is abruptly taking a downward spiral. While the back blurb hints that Julia will question Dallas' proposal and wonder if the baby is the sole reason, I disagree. I kept sensing that Julia was wondering if Dallas married her only because of friendship. She was concerned that Dallas might not feel anything deeper. Ah, young insecurities!
Although he ultimately comes around, Julia's father is a major pain in the
rear. Straight out of Tennessee Williams' plays, Big Daddy Richardson is
blustery, morally superior – which makes him a hypocrite – and always has to
have the last word. Thank goodness Julia stands up to him. Dallas,
however, can't afford to alienate his father-in-law any more than he
already has. Big Daddy has hired him to work as a "flunky" at his lumber
yard. Dallas knows that he's going to be tested every day. I had to grit
my teeth occasionally and use extreme forbearance in not reacting to Big
Daddy. Writing this good, writing that actually makes me angry with a
character, is vicarious reading at its best.
Several interesting subplots are attention-grabbing. One is Dallas' quest
to find his natural father. This has a warm, gentle resolution whose final
message is the subtle theme of the book. You don't have to be perfect to
be loved. Another subplot is Dallas and the lumberyard. How he copes
with Big Daddy and triumphs in the end is another of this book's many
Julia and Dallas undergo the normal rite of passage that all newlyweds
experience. Their rock solid friendship allows them ultimately to
flourish. Their triumph is ours, too. Watching them succeed makes for a
warm, comfortable, enjoyable read.