It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory. (synopsis from book jacket)The restoration project uncovers secrets buried, literally, since Willa's and Paxton's grandmothers were teens, when a traveling salesman named Tucker Devlin enchanted the entire town. He reminded me of The Music Man, but instead of conning them into creating a band, he charmed all the women and convinced the men that a peach orchard was the answer to the towns unemployment and financial woes. But he also had a dark side that turned friends against each other.
Willa and Paxton work together to uncover the truth of what happened all those years ago, but they learn some deeper lessons about true friendship and acceptance. This story is part mystery, part romance and part fable. And, as with all of Ms. Addison's books, just a touch of magic
Once again, I was amazed at the way this author can put simple words together to paint a picture and an emotion that is so much more than the sum of the parts. Here are some of my favorite lines:
Being met by the sharp scent of chocolate mingling with the moist scent of brewing coffee had a dark, secretive feel to it, like Willa had finally found the perfect place to hide. (p. 6)
He had abuse written all over him. It had happened to him. He had delivered it. It was so much a part of his psyche that he couldn't look at another person and not imagine what they would look like with bruises. (p. 103)
As she walked across the parking lot to her Jeep, she thought she saw a few silver party streamers float into the night sky. But she blinked and they were gone. (p. 146)
Their futures were sparkles in the air, waiting to be caught like fireflies. (p. 144)