Synopsis: Kara Whittenbrook is an unlikely heiress. Down-to-earth and lovably quirky, she’s never fit in with the stodgy Whittenbrook clan of Connecticut. Growing up at her parents’ rainforest preserve in Brazil, she has a quaintly off-beat view of life. Now her beloved parents have died in a plane crash, and Kara’s learned a stunning truth.
She was adopted.
Her birth parents are Mac and Lily Tolbert. They live and work on a backwater cattle ranch in northern Florida. Ranch owner Ben Thocco is running out of time and money. He’s going to need a miracle in order to save the ranch and care for the likable crew of unusual hands he employs, including Kara’s parents and his own fragile brother, Joey.
My Thoughts: I very much enjoyed this story. It was told in first-person, alternating between Kara’s version of things, and Ben’s version of things. From the start, I was sucked in and could not put this book down. I loved the friendships that were a large part of this story ~~ between Ben and Kara; Kara and Mac & Lily, and also between Ben’s workers.
Mac & Lily stole my heart. They were Kara’s birth parents. Mac had a birth defect due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and stuttered; Lily was born “normal” but was shaken as a baby so she was a bit simple minded and walked with a limp. They were such sweet, sweet characters ~ I’m not sure how anyone could read this book and not love them. Joey was Ben’s younger brother and had Down’s Syndrome. He had a childlike view of the world and was consistently optimistic. Lula & Miriam were retired mermaids ~ throwbacks to the days when swimming in a mermaid costume in a small pool viewed by diners was considered glamorous. Roy and Dale were an African-American couple who dressed and mimicked the legendary western couple Roy Rogers & Dale Evans. Dale had a fascination with Jesus ~~ everything begins and ends with Jesus. Cheech, Possum, and Bigfoot round out the outcast cowhands that Ben employed at his ranch. They were such a large band of outcasts, and together they formed a family. The story was sweet, heartfelt, and did offer several laugh-out-loud moments.
The only thing that I really didn’t like was during Kara’s dialogue mentioning being related to or meeting famous icons. That’s probably just my thing, but it did tend to distract me when it happened. There were also a lot of too good to be true, over the top moments, but if anyone deserved good things to happen for them, it was the characters in this book.
Verdict: This was Very Good. It was my first novel by Deborah Smith and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.