Don’t Call Me Darlin’ – Santa Rita Book I by Fleeta Cunningham
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Length: Full (302 pages)
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Camellia
Life in Santa Rita, Texas, 1957: Calm...slow-moving...placid...or it was until that radical librarian and her controversial books came to town. Then the County Judge falls in love with her. And the editor of the local newspaper starts trying to convince the judge that the girl’s a Communist sympathizer. What with the Commissioners in an uproar, two irrepressible teens adding their own brand of confusion, and a menacing midnight caller threatening the girl he loves, Judge Sam Lindley has enough interference in his courtship to sink it. He doesn’t need his old friend the editor poking around to find evidence that Sam’s lovely librarian has Party ties. Trouble is, the newsman just might be right!
A special treat! Subtly endearing and thoroughly thought-provoking, DON’T CALL ME DARLIN’ gives us Sam, a hero that is an honest-to-goodness Texas gentleman rancher, politician, friend, and “for-real” lover with humor and depth.
Sam pursues and patiently courts Sarah-Carole, the new librarian in Santa Rita, Texas. Highly responsible and dedicated to her work, Carole carries battle scars from past experiences and is fearful of creating any personal relationships, but her innate nature causes her to reach out to help people both young and old. Not until she is 28 years old does she hear the words “I love you”.
Fleeta Cunningham creates characters as real as one’s neighbor or business associate. Liza and Buffy are so like some former high school students I taught, sponsored, and traveled with over the years – energetic, bubbly, and fiery in defense of a cause they believe in. Ned, well-developed with just enough back-story to know how he came to be such a fanatic, creates a firestorm in his community that it threatens to consume him and all those he loves. He is an antagonist to be reckoned with.
The plot deals with very real issues that plague the 1950’s both politically and socially – not the least of which is the tight wire professional women must walk if they wished to be successful. Even perceived impropriety can derail a career.
I recommend DON’T CALL ME DARLIN’. Delightful humor, realistic characters and a look at the damage unfounded allegations can do are all helpful in creating a memorable story. This is one for the keeper shelf.