Harmony

Crossings

Forget Me Not

Hooked

Portraits

Weeping Angel

 
Honey by Stef Ann Holm
(Sonnet, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-671-01942-2
****
Honey is the third installment in Stef Ann Holm's "Brides for All Seasons series." Since I haven't read the previous books, I can safely say this charming slice of 1901 Americana stands firmly on its own.

Camille Kennison is the most beautiful woman in Harmony, Montana. Her presence captures the attention of every man in town, except the one whose approval she most desires: her father.

Hardware store owner James Kennison certainly loves his only child. It's just that he is consumed by his longtime feud with the owner of his competition across the street, Nops Hardware Emporium, and his ownership of the local baseball team, the Harmony Keystones.

The Keystones have just been accepted into the American League, and although they have an abysmal record, Kennison is certain he can turn things around if he can only convince local woodworker, Alex Cordova to join the team.

Three years earlier, Alex was the undisputed star pitcher of the Baltimore Orioles. But emotional scars from a horrific accident on the field made it impossible for him to return to the mound. Although the reader is aware of the accident from the start, no one in Harmony knows the real reason for his retirement and it's a secret Alex is determined to keep.

Camille is certain if she can persuade Alex to join the Keystones, she will finally earn her father's respect. Unfortunately, Camille gets more than she bargained for. She is successful in getting Alex on the team, but in the process, suddenly finds herself thrust into the role of team manager.

It's up to Camille to pull together a ragtag team of players who employ an impressive array of game day superstitions, and to protect her heart from her handsome, if enigmatic, pitcher. Creating a pennant winning team would certainly cause her father to sit up and take notice.

Stef Ann Holm obviously loves her subject and her impeccable research reveals itself on every page. Her characters, even the secondary ones, are exceptionally well defined and remain vivid long after you finish the book. I found this to be especially the case with Alex, who is one of the best tortured heroes I've read in quite a while. Things may have gone tragically wrong in his life, but he doesn't feel the need to take it out on those around him.

If I have one concern, it is how easily Camille grows into her role as manager of a major league baseball team. I would think at that time (and probably even today), the men would do everything in their power to eliminate the stigma of a female coach. Her acceptance by the league seemed unrealistic at a time when women were still very much second class citizens.

In addition, if you don't enjoy baseball, you should know the game factors heavily into the plot of Honey. As a fan, I really enjoyed the glimpse into baseball's early years and its players.

Still, I think even those who don't care for the sport will enjoy the tender union of Camille and Alex. I closed the cover of the book with the certainty that these two people belonged together. I can't think of a better recommendation than that.

--Karen Lynch


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