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Fans of Fowler's Benni Harper mystery series will welcome this likable sequel to The Saddlemaker's Wife (2006), which follows troubled but mainly goodhearted characters in Cardinal, Calif., a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Lucas McGavin is restlessly looking for a profession or a woman he can commit to, in particular gentle Ruby McGavin, who's still hung up on her dead husband, Lucas's brother. In addition, Ruby is terribly worried about whether Nash, her own younger brother, can stay off liquor and drugs. None of what happens with these characters or the vividly drawn supporting cast is earthshaking, but together the events make up an appealing panorama of ordinary people trying to live up to their best potential-if they can figure out what it might be. Fowler demonstrates that such a story can be religious without being sanctimonious, though outrageous authorial manipulation at the conclusion weakens the effect. Agent: Ellen Geiger, Frances Goldin Literary. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Hoping to remove her troubled, alcoholic brother, Nash, from the temptations of Nashville, widowed Ruby returns with him to friendly, small-town Cardinal, California, hoping for a new start. She soon settles in, with the help of her former husband Cole's relatives, especially Cole's aunt and his brother, Lucas, who has developed romantic feelings for Ruby. Nash doesn't feel comfortable in Cardinal, however, and begins drinking again. Ruby has been bitter since she and Nash were abandoned as children by their mother, Etta, but when Nash gets into deep trouble, Ruby reunites with Etta to help him. Ultimately, Ruby finds acceptance, love, and forgiveness as well as the importance of friends and family. Like The Saddlemaker's Wife (2006), this sequel, populated by a cast of well-developed, sympathetic characters, is less about mystery and suspense and more about the details of life in a small-town ranching community.--O'Brien, Sue Copyright 2010 Booklist