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Friday, November 5, 2010

Only You by Deborah Grace Staley

Only You by Deborah Grace Staley
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (208 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Hey, ya'll. Dixie Ferguson here. I run Ferguson's Diner in Angel Ridge, Tennessee. Population three hundred forty-five.

It's a picturesque town in the valley of the Little Tennessee River, established in 1785. In the early days, its first families--the McKays, the Wallaces, the Houstons, the Joneses, and, of course, the Craigs--staked their claims on hundreds of acres of the richest bottom land anyone had ever seen.

After all the years I've spent behind the counter at Ferguson's, I could probably tell ya'll a story about near everyone in town. But we only have so much time, so I'll narrow it down to just two for now.

This is a story about coming home. It's also a story about acceptin' folks for who they are. You could say it's a story about Josie Allen, a librarian, and Cole Craig, a handyman, but I say it's a story about finding love where you'd least expect to.

Only You, first of the Angel Ridge Series, takes place right there in the charming tiny town of Angel Ridge Tennessee – as set out by our very knowing and rural narrator from there at Ferguson’s Diner. Sit a spell, and listen to the tale of a couple of locals.

Josie Allen is the town librarian and hardly expects to find love – but then there is this not-very-promising handyman Cole – and events simply take them. Josie is clever and educated and returns to her hometown, where immediately, few things go right. Her challenges aren’t huge or devastating, but keep the story moving. Josie’s determination is admirable, but sometimes it’s hard to know just where she’s coming from. She doesn’t quite fit in anymore. And Cole – is he pushy, or is his habit of stepping in to fix things (and sort of takeover) also admirable?

Folksy but realistic dialogue makes this as homey as sharing cookies and tea with Miss Estelle – and it's truly wonderful to find a romance that is built around building a relationship first, and not just sex. Staley uses a light touch to sprinkle a measure of subtle humor into the mix – somehow, just enough to lighten a moment here or there.

The best of this is that magical, down-home heartwarming flavor that is beautifully maintained throughout. Love is definitely the center of Only You and its not just a word here, but a feeling the story somehow manages to share. Only You is strong on characters and exceptionally evocative, if slightly predictable. To use a local phrase ‘pretty as a picture’ sums up this one.

It’s a fun, undemanding read that is everything it promises to be: absolutely do read.