Tame and Older Man

Virgin Promise

Hometown Honey
by Kara Lennox
(Harl. Am. Rom., $4.99, PG) ISBN 0373-75072-2
Hometown Honey is a story of finding out what is important. While well written and generally enjoyable, it is full of worn plot techniques, misunderstandings and small-town wonder.

Cindy Lefler, a widow with a 14 month old son, Adam, is about to marry again. Her choice of grooms, however, is less than stellar. Dex Shalimar, alias Marvin Carver, has just run off with her life savings and the insurance money from her deceased husband. Cindy was so interested in leaving the small town of Cottonwood, Texas, she succumbed to this con man, who has a history of conning women out of their money. Two of these women, both blondes like Cindy, have come to Cottonwood hot on his trail. They just missed him, and missed keeping Cindy from being swindled.

Cindy grew up in Cottonwood. Her parents and grandparents owned and operated the Miracle Café in the heart of downtown. Cindy has always had wanderlust, with dreams of traveling the world. Her marriage to truck driver Jim Lefler helped her achieve some of those goals, but getting pregnant and then having Jim die unexpectedly put her right back baking biscuits at the café. She is now the sole owner, since both her parents have died. And she can't wait to leave. Losing all her money put a major crimp in that plan. What is worse, she discovers that Dex has sold her home and business out from under her.

Deputy Luke Rheems comes to her rescue. Luke is an old love interest from high school and has been a good friend since. He offers her the use of his carriage house until she can get back on her feet. He also has hopes that he can convince Cindy to stay in town and fall for him again. Luke has always loved Cindy and had just been waiting until a reasonable time period passed from Jim's death when Dex came by and swept her off her feet. His plans include getting her to see how important putting down roots is for a young child. Luke grew up with a vagabond mother, who lived in their car and lived on the good graces of lots of men. He was placed in a foster home in Cottonwood at age 13 and turned his life around. Home, hearth and roots are the keys to his joy in life.

The heart of the plot is Luke's attempt to convince Cindy to stay while she tries to explain her need to travel. In the background are the attempts to find Dex/Marvin with the other ladies. The other ladies play a part and are introduced so that the series "Blond Justice" can continue. Brenna and Sonya each have their unique stories regarding conman Marvin and it appears romance will be in their future too.

The story is paced well and engaged this reader. However, the messages are conventional and the results predictable. There are several misunderstandings. There is the renewed relationship that comes easily with Cindy showing little sense of loss about Dex or Jim. This makes her seem a little hard. Luke is stubborn but is also the bad boy done good, so he portrays a sense that because he has seen both the seedy side of life and the good, he knows best. Generally likable, this puts a damper on completely buying into his character.

Baby Adam is adorable and there is the expected "family scenes" of mom, dad and baby that play a big role in the choices everyone makes in the end. Quaint comes to mind at times as does unsurprising. The key of course, is the wonder of small town life compared to not settling down and growing roots. For those who look for that kind of down home feel, this is an entertaining feel good story. But Hometown Honey has little new to offer.

--Shirley Lyons

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