Deborah Smith was a newspaper editor before she became an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romances, including the books A Place to Call Home and Blue Willow. She has published more than 30 novels over the course of her career and is now focusing on writing fiction with romantic elements.
A gracefully written and absorbing tale of a stubborn young woman's maturation amid a self-involved Southern clan, Smith's (Silk and Stone) sixth novel is a page-turner. Claire Mahoney is the fiercely independent daughter of the most prominent family in the insular small town of Dunderry, Ga., where class and race distinctions are fiercely observed. At the bottom of the tier is "white trash" widower Roan Sullivan, a disabled, alcoholic veteran and his son, Roanie. Claire sees the special qualities in this suspicious and distrustful boy and eventually wins Roanie's friendship. After his father is jailed, Roanie lives with the Maloneys, and becomes Claire's unequivocal protector‘even killing his own father when he assaults Claire. The frightened Maloneys send Roanie to a boys' home, from which he disappears. During the ensuing 20 years, Claire establishes herself as a crusading journalist. When she is injured in a murderous attack on the subject of her award-winning series on domestic violence, Claire comes home to Dunderry. She is listless and depressed until an unexpected reunion with a now worldly and wealthy Roanie reveals a shocking secret: during his fugitive years, Roanie raised the illegitimate son of a disreputable local woman and, allegedly, Claire's uncle. Soon, other dark secrets are revealed. Claire's elegiac voice, and the dark burden of guilt that haunts the narrative, prove seductive. Smith avoids melodrama as Claire, Roanie and others prove that with pure hearts people can transcend a troubled past. (Aug.)
YA‘Innocent compassion links 5-year-old Claire Maloney to Roan Sullivan, a motherless 10-year-old lad whose life with his drunken, despicable father is a nightmare. A bond develops between the two that neither time nor space can break. Claire's family traces its roots back several generations to Ireland, and with them the mystical beliefs that creep into its contemporary culture and customs. Both families have deep roots in Dunderry, Georgia, where long-standing relationships weave in and out of daily life and are often more biological than at first acknowledged. When Roan is forced out of Dunderry, at age 15, after he kills his father while defending Claire, she is unable to forget him. For the next 20 years, she searches for Roan. Unknown to her, however, he has kept watch over her until he can prove himself worthy of her. A tragic accident brings Claire back to her home to recuperate and eventually Roan back to her. This is a story for any romantic who wants a bit of mystery, a lot of suspense, a tale of two star-crossed lovers, and a satisfying ending to a fast-paced novel. YAs will readily identify with Claire and Roan as they struggle to become the adults they want to be; readers will cheer them on to their eventual success.‘Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Red-haired, Irish, the only girl and youngest child in a family with three sons, Claire Maloney is feisty, unafraid, and burning to right the injustices of the world, starting with those in the small Georgia town dominated by her extended family. At the age of five, Claire stands up for drunken troublemaker Roanie Sullivan, the neglected son of Big Roan and a despised outsider. It takes two tragedies to make Claire realize that the most generous impulses can be as destructive as selfish ones and 20 years of stubborn independence and loneliness before Roanie and Claire can accept home and family along with the ambivalent feelings they inspire. This novel is a rich evocation of family and place that portrays all too painfully the hurt and comfort, the frustrations and rewards brought by heritage and family. Recommended.‘Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.
"Rarely will a book touch your heart like A Place to Call Home. So sit back, put up your feet, and enjoy."--The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
"A beautiful, believable love story."--Chicago Tribune "For sheer storytelling virtuosity, Ms. Smith has few equals."--Richmond Times-Dispatch "Enchanting new novel . . . a beautiful love story of reunion."--The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC "Stylishly written, filled with Southern ease and humor."--Tampa Tribune