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Charming Grace Audio, Cassette – Unabridged, February, 2004

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"Searching for Always" by Jennifer Probst
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Smith's beguiling brand of Southern contemporary romance (Sweet Hush, etc.) takes a satirical turn in her ninth novel. When Schwarzeneggeresque action star Stone Senterra arrives in Dahlonega, Ga., the only thing standing in the way of his making a film about real-life local hero Harper Vance is Vance's exâ€"beauty queen widow armed with a truckload of gravel, a potted orchid named "Dancer" and a will of steel. Charming Grace stops at nothing to ensure that her husband's memory does not become fodder for yet another bad movie. Having defied her wealthy father to befriend and then marry the backwoods bad boy turned GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) agent, she is more than ready to face down Hollywood. What she isn't prepared for are the feelings aroused by Senterra's troubleshooting bodyguard, Cajun-born ex-con Boone Noleene, like Vance a gallant-hearted tough guy and like Senterra abandoned by his father at an early age. The novel alternates points of view: first we hear from the rebel belle, then from the brash bodyguard. The battling duo are backed up by a larger-than-life cast of secondary characters, including Senterra's baby sister co-star, Diamond, voted sexiest movie babe by Gun and Knife magazine, and Senterra's son the computer geek, who falls for Grace's black niece from Detroit. Smith blends Southern charm and Hollywood brass, kicking up the satire with Stone's script notes, full of cliches, paranoia and celluloid-deep emotion. Her unflagging energy, forgiving spirit and mischievous imagination compel the reader to delight with her in the frailty of heroes on-screen and off, proving that Smith is one romance novelist who just keeps getting better.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Grace Bagshaw Vance will do whatever it takes to stop Stone Senterra. One of Hollywood's most popular action/adventure stars, Senterra wants to direct a film based on the life of Grace's late husband, Harp, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who was killed stopping the Turn-Key Bomber. Grace, however, is certain Senterra's brand of mindless, testosterone-drenched movies will disgrace Harp's memory. Armed with a shotgun and a load of gravel, Grace concocts a plan to put a halt to the production only to find herself up against Boone Noleene, Senterra's intensely loyal bodyguard. While they first seem to be on opposite sides, both Grace and Boone soon find they have quite a bit in common, something that worries Grace since the more she finds herself getting to know Boone, the more it seems she is letting go of her beloved Harp. Writing with an easy charm and sassy wit, Smith deftly fashions a splendid story of love and honor. Blessed with an abundance of delightfully eccentric characters and a plot that gracefully moves between past and present, this is a romance to treasure. John Charles
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Audio Partners; Unabridged edition (February 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572703792
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572703797
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 3.8 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,853,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Coming in March 2015 -- my new sexy contemporary novella series, THE RIDGE. Written under my pen name, Della Stone. These 40-page ebook novellas are filled with the hottest romances I've ever created. The Ridge, an isolated overlook in the Appalachians, is rumored to be haunted. Women claim to have been seduced by the spirits of men condemned to its wild realms for betraying the women they loved. For world-class escort Gillian, the Ridge is the site of a mountain lodge where her biggest client, a ruthless investor, has trapped her for a weekend with ten genius computer game developers he plans to blackmail. Her job? To get them naked and into extreme sex acts while hidden cameras film their darkest desires. But she didn't count on reuniting with Kelt Evans, who championed a young gamer he knew only as Triple Threat. He won her heart. Now, can she earn his forgiveness with the help of stranger who is not among the living? The Ridge--Gillian and Kelt.

Also coming in March: The Ridge, Rowan and Brake. Her father, a Senator, convinced her to sign a chastity pledge during his failed Presidential campaign. Rowan honored the pledge ever since, but now, at twenty-three, her father reveals his hypocritical secret life as the raunchy lover of Rowan's best friend. Caught on tape with incriminating comments about his corrupt backroom deals as he treats the world to eye-popping closeups of sex with the woman who's his daughter's BFF, he's become a national dirty joke--and the sneering publicity follows Rowan everywhere. An avid hiker, she escapes to her beloved mountains. But a rainslick fall knocks her out, and she regains consciousness in a dreamworld where a gorgeous man transforms himself into her fantasy--Brake Costrane, the wrong-side-of-the-tracks guy she fell in love with when she was eighteen. Brake became an Army Ranger and died in Afghanistan. But now, here he is, just as she remembered him--but only in her dreams. Or is he?

The Ridge--Rowan and Brake

*




Love is about family, romance, and finding a place to call home . . .

Update: September 1, 2014

The Apple Pie Knights will publish by September 15!This 14,000 word novella leads directly into THE KITCHEN CHARMER, which will be a full-length book. I'm finishing it now for an October pub date.

Update: July 1, 2014

The Kitchen Charmer is set for a fall publishing date. Coming in July is a lead-in story, The Apple Pie Knights. Look for more news soon on that! *And* I've added the first part of a short novel called Forever Yesterday, now available in ebook for 1.99. I'm working to build the world of my Crossroads Cove characters primarily, while adding some of my other projects in the mix as often as possible.

Update: January 26, 2014: Thanks for the questions about the release date on THE KITCHEN CHARMER. I'm predicting April 1. The original dream was for Feb. 1 but my day job decided otherwise.

Bell Bridge Books is an exciting and more-than-fulltime career, and I love working with our growing list of authors plus a staff that now includes former Harlequin editor Brenda Chin. We've got an amazing line-up of books for 2014--romances, women's fiction, mysteries, suspense, fantasy, and more. I'd editing new mystery series by Joann Ferguson and Arlene Kay, dark suspense by John Flynn, and the next book in Virginia Brown's bestselling Dixie Diva mystery series. I'm crazy-proud over the successful launch of Nicki Salcedo's debut romantic suspense novel, ALL BEAUTIFUL THINGS, plus looking forward to the launch of Suzan Colon's BEACH GLASS and Bonnie D. Tharp's PATCHWORK FAMILY, which just got a great endorsement from Dorothea Benton Franks.

I do miss being able to write fulltime, which I gave up several years ago, but the kind of novels I love never found an easy fit in the marketplace, and depending on them as a way to make a living was like riding a roller-coaster that regularly crashes with no warning. Yikes.

Anyhoo, more news soon on a possible short story to pair with THE YARN SPINNER. I may be able to get that ready for March. Tentative title: THE YARN LOVER. If it happens, it will feature Gus MacBride and be set in Afghanistan immediately before THE KITCHEN CHARMER. Readers will learn more about the poignant penpal correspondence between Gus and Lucy and see what Gus is dealing with that puts him in danger.

Update: January 17, 2014: publishing today: THE YARN SPINNER, a Crossroads Cafe short story, part of The MacBrides Trilogy, 99 cents ebook. This prequel to the upcoming THE KITCHEN CHARMER tells readers a bit more about Lucy Parmenter, the fragile young woman who has become Capt. Gus MacBride's long-distance text buddy while hiding her history as a rape victim and her on-going struggles as an agoraphobic recluse.

THE YARN SPINNER takes place two years before THE KITCHEN CHARMER. Cathy Deen, the scarred actress from THE CROSSROADS CAFE, meets Lucy on Lucy's first night at Rainbow Goddess Farm, a live-in counseling center for abused woman, high the North Carolina mountains. Cathy is determined to help her, and enlists Delta Whittlespoon's wisdom and biscuit magic. But the emotionally paralyzed and near-suicidal newcomer needs to find a lifeline in a hurry.



Publishing November 15, 2013: THE PICKLE QUEEN, Book 2 of The MacBrides Trilogy, a Crossroads Cafe Novella.

Excerpt:

Pickles are mentioned in the Bible. Cleopatra ate them as a beauty regimen. Shakespeare put them in his plays. Mason designed jars for bottling them. So did Ball. Did Mason and Ball fight over the King of the Pickle Jars title? I don't know. I did know this much: I used pickles to keep fear, pride, and my love of Jay Wakefield behind a door I would not risk opening again. Even now.

Wakefields take what they want. MacBrides never surrender. For nearly a hundred years, a battle of wills between these two deeply-rooted Appalachian families has ended in defeat and heartache--most often, for MacBrides. Now the MacBride name is barely more than a legend, and it's up to Gabby MacBride to deal with the pain of her childhood memories and also the challenge of a MacBride legacy she's only beginning to understand.

That will mean coming to terms with her bittersweet love for Jay Wakefield, the lonely rich boy who became her soul mate when they were kids, before the dark demands of his own legacy forced him to betray her.

*

The modern outlaws, preppers and recluses of the Little Finn Valley called this cozy cavern beneath the mountain the Wolf's Den--a cross between a sports bar, a frat-house TV room, and a co-op, family-friendly pajama-party. There were dozing dogs, sly cats, a few pet raccoons, small monkeys wearing sweaters, and sleeping children among the audience sprawled in chairs around a stage in one corner. Another gaggle gathered near flat screens showing Christmas concerts, ESPN highlights of fall football games, and A Christmas Story.

Ralphie's dreams of gaming Santa for a BB gun was a hit.

There were couches, small tables, recliners and other assorted seating arrangements cobbled from a catch-all collection of furniture. About a hundred people occupied the Den that cold Christmas Eve night, most of them looking mellow--but when the Moon sisters shoved me out of the hallway into their presence the karaoke machine went silent. Eyes turned toward me. I saw a lot of military patches on rugged jackets, a lot of holstered pistols and sheathed hunting knives, and a lot of damp boots drying next to thickly socked feet.

The men were pretty tough-looking, too.

"Greta Garbo MacBride," one of the Moons announced.

A MacBride.

A MacBride had returned to the Little Finn Valley.

Just as before, when I was met on the road down from the ridge, there were looks of awe.

Behind an ornate, marble-topped bar sat some rough biker types in 'do rags and cracked leather lounged on tall stools and a blond woman in a denim jumper over black leggings mixed drinks and guided tall glasses under beer taps. On the wall behind her was a large framed poster with Little Finn River Whiskey in scrolling letters. On one side of it was a sepia photo of a vintage bottle with the caption 1915's Best beneath it; on the other half of the poster was a modern color photo of an updated whiskey bottle with 2012 beneath it.
TRADITION AND PRIDE ENDURE, a slogan said.

I called out, "Who wants potato salad and pre-Christmas turkey sandwiches on whole wheat with fresh dill relish and sliced mushrooms drizzled with balsamic vinagrette? Also, pickle-flavored martinis and a blueberry reduction on baked brie with a side of sugar cookies?"

After a startled moment, smiles broke out and hands went up.
One of the 'do rags rose like a bandana-wearing African lion, carrying the fresh double of Little Finn whiskey he'd just been handed by Blond Tats. He offered it to me, and smiled. "The nectar of the mountain gods," he said in a Boston accent straight out of Harvard. "Welcome, a great honor. A MacBride has come home."

*

Dawn was just three hours away. Christmas Eve was only a few hours old, and the Cavern couldn't shield us from the pit-of-the night mood, emptiness and regrets. The long day had scraped ruts in my throat. My hands hurt, and my attitude was testy; I felt a vise squeezing my temples.

"She's got them eating out of her hand, Jay," Pug told me. "And yeah, that's not a metaphor. She's feeding all the valley's late-nighters like they're baby birds she rescued out of a nest, and they're chirping and asking for more. You know the kind of after-midnight crowd that hangs out at the Den. The ones who've got no family to go home to and too many nightmares to fall asleep. And when the holidays come around their shit is stirred up, times ten. She's their holiday mama bird. It's the MacBride effect. I've read about that in old Caillin's journal but I never really believed in it, until now."

"Food is comfort," I said. "Gabs and her brother and sister understand that. It's that simple."

"Huh," she said, as we walked out of the cold into the warmly lit alcoves of the Den.

Laughter and applause accompanied a group singalong of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" as Pug and I rounded a bend in the wall lined with deer skins, old photos of the Little Finn Distillery and the Woolen Mill.

"Holy singalong, Batman. She's Lawrence Welk without the bubble machine."

Up on the small stage, barefoot, with a mustard-smeared apron over her bedraggled slacks and blouse, her towering height and extraordinary hair filling all the available show space, Gabs waved a glass of whiskey with one hand and led the chorus with a microphone in the other.

Platters of sandwich crumbs and nearly empty stainless serving bowls smeared with the residue of potato salad littered the bar top. Open jars of pickles sat on every mismatched table.

Singing in loud unison, the crowd chorused,
Underneath the mistletoe last night . . .

"They're going to wake up in the daylight and hold their heads and regret this," Pug shouted in my ear.

No, they won't, I thought. They'll be in awe of the way Gabs soothed their hunger.

As the last beats of the song faded from the big amps beside each end of the stage, Gabs took a long swallow of Little Finn whiskey and, as if drugged by the essence of her ancestors, found me instantly. She stiffened, shoulders back, chin up.

She pointed at me in sly challenge. "That man, right there, can sing like a baritone angel." Everyone turned to stare.

She remembers. I nodded, bowing a little.

Her eyes flared. "He has a great singing voice," she continued.

"Sing, Wakefield," someone yelled. People began to clap in rhythm. "Sing, sing, sing."

"You don't have to give in," Pug said. "I'll break out the tequila and distract them."

"I can handle it." I wound my way through the assorted chairs and mismatched tables, the recliners filled with snuggling couples, the dogs curled up by their humans' feet on sheepskin pads, the aura of communal energy, the spirit of the tribe and the cave. Fire crackled on a hearth, and the scent of the stone and the earth reminded us all of this was real, and eternal, and essential.

The welcome and warning in Gabs' deep green MacBride eyes, tearing me apart with the challenge of our history and the promise of what we still might become.




Bell Bridge Books
Hey!

See the prequel to THE PICKLE QUEEN -- THE BISCUIT WITCH -- here:

http://www.amazon.com/Biscuit-Crossroads-Novella-MacBrides-ebook/dp/B00CJD3U1W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367446306&sr=8-1&keywords=the+biscuit+witches

The final novella in the trilogy, THE KITCHEN CHARMER, will be published in winter 2014.


Deborah Smith is the NYT and WSJ bestselling author of A PLACE TO CALL HOME, THE CROSSROADS CAFE, and many other novels. She's also a founding partner and VP of BelleBooks and its main division, Bell Bridge Books. Check here for news and updates on the titles she and her partners are publishing.

Deb writes almost exclusively about romance, family drama and "other," and many of her settings are the Appalachian mountain communities of Georgia and North Carolina. Her family heritage is based in those areas and, like many legacies of Appalachian kinfolk, is a mixture of Scots-Irish, Scots, Irish, English, Welsh and Native American, primarily Cherokee and Creek Indian. Her mother's family, the Powers, came from Donegal, Ireland in the late 1700s and by the early 1800s had settled in the wilderness near what would become known as Atlanta. The Powers were a founding family of Cobb County, Georgia, and ran a ferry on the Chattahoochee River. "Powers Ferry" continues to be a well-known place name in that community. Deb's mother, Dora Lee Powers Brown, grew up playing in cornfields on the banks of the river where apartment complexes, office buildings and restaurants now stand. (Precisely: Rays on the River, a popular restaurant in the Atlanta suburbs, is located where one of those cornfields existed.) She recalled playing in the remnants of Civil War trenches as a child, and, in the years before Buford Dam leashed the river, sitting with her brothers and sisters on the one-lane bridge at Powers Ferry where, during floods, the river rose so high that she and her siblings could dip their feet in it.

Asheville, North Carolina, is a favorite setting for Deborah's books. She fell in love with the city during visits to the local rivers (for rafting) in the early 1980s. Many many visits later, she and Hank consider the city and its amazing mountain region their home away from home. The Biltmore Estate inspired the mansion in BLUE WILLOW, the Cherokee and gem mining history inspired SILK AND STONE, and THE CROSSROADS CAFE resulted from a wandering day trip in the highlands above Asheville, where Deb, her mother and their friend Ceil Garrison discovered the best homecooking ever! at a tiny diner at an isolated crossroads near the Tennessee line.

Many of Deb's current and older titles are now also available in unabridged audiobooks here at Amazon and at iTunes also Audible.com. Check out Deb's fantasy romance, ALICE AT HEART, because Deb narrated that audio herself (hey, at least it's unique...)



Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sarrah Knight on February 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Widow Grace Bagshaw Vance has protected Harper Vance all her life--and she doesn't plan to let his death affect that. When hotshot actor Stone Senterra comes to Dahlonega to film the movie he has written about Harp's life, Grace does her damnedest to make sure it falls through. But Stone pushes back, usually through his bodyguard, ex-con Boone Noleene. It doesn't take Grace long to notice Boone--or that he has a heart and a chivalrous nature much like her dead husband's, but Boone's got an edge she has trouble ignoring. Both Grace and Boone have those Deborah Smith heartbreaking backgrounds, and it just makes you want to cry to read what they're feeling sometimes. They try to avoid their attraction for a number of reasons--not the least of which being Stone Senterra.
Supported by a colorful cast of characters, all sporting odd little quirks that make them memorable, Grace Vance and Boone Noleene, through a rotating first-person viewpoint, make for a wonderful story.
Now, I thought the end of this otherwise "charming" novel was just as sticky, sickly sweet as the homemade fudge to which Stone Senterra is addicted. It didn't quite live up to the otherwise poignant and painfully realistic tone to the rest of the book. However, this is definitely worth your time, and I don't doubt that you'll remember it for quite some time once you've finished the reading.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By avid reader in Colorado on May 13, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read pretty much all of Deborah Smith's books. I agree with others--this is not one of her best. The main characters instantaneously fall in love?? And the "father/sons" surprise?? But still worth reading.

But the worst part was the missing words, wrong/confusing character references (like "he" when it should have been "she"), weird formatting and punctuation, etc. that were in my Kindle edition--way more than I've seen in any other Kindle book. Did it happen in "translation" from the printed book? Who does this translation? It was awful!!!!!!!! Extremely distracting!!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in one day, because it captured my attention from the very first word to the very last. I liked everything about this well-written and charming book--the romantic and familial story of love, the flawed and loyal main characters and the quirky and interesting secondary characters.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Katherine on August 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I wondered why I was having trouble getting through this novel - good to know I'm not alone. I've enjoyed most of Deborah Smith's novels but am finding that with this latest offering, her work is becoming extremely formulaic. Two disparate characters meet: one a charming southern belle with quirky family, the other a rough and tumble outsider. Big sex scene smack in the middle of the book then somehow all gets resolved. It's becoming so predictable I know what's going to happen before I turn the page. It's too bad because Ms. Smith has genuine talent but before she embarks on another writing project she needs to get some fresh ideas.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christine Goran on July 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've read everything this author has written and I've never been so disappointed in her work. I found myself wondering if someone is writing under her name. A number of people have written about how difficult it was to get through the book; well, I've tried and tried and finally decided I had to know if it was just me or if others had the same feelings. I logged onto amazon and now that I know that I'm not alone in my opinions, I quit! This is not worth finishing. Reading keeps me up at night way-past-my-bedtime, but 1-2 pages of this book puts me to sleep. (Maybe I'll keep it by my bedside, after all.)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Action star Stone Senterra visits Dahlonega, Georgia to try to meet with Grace Vance, widow of Georgia Bureau of Investigation hero Harper. Her deceased husband died two years ago taking out the psychopath Turn-Key Bomber just before the serial killer was going to blow up a hospital. The world saw Harp's heroism as he died saving many innocent lives. Now Stone, known for dumb down action thriller flicks, wants to film Harp's life. He tries to charm Grace, but she rejects his deal as she believes he is only capable of an action-packed cinematic insulting dolt of a movie.
Stone's bodyguard Boone Molene tries to intercede as he is grateful to his employer for giving him a chance straight out of Angola Prison. As Boone and Grace become acquainted they fall in love, but she still refuses Stone's efforts as she believes that the action hero will destroy the dignity of her late husband.
This entertaining contemporary is more a character study than a romance, though a love subplot adds depth to the tale. The story line provides insight into Grace and through her eyes Harp. Fans will appreciate Grace's efforts to keep her late spouse's life from becoming a bogus macho action adventure flick as he was deeper than just a GI Joe doll. Deborah Smith furbishes a strong look at legends and how Hollywood can corrupt and propagandize or enhance heroes.
Harriet Klausner
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Ms Smith's books for a while and Charming Grace was a total disappointment - the story was hard to follow; the characters unbelievable and the content generally like a really cheap soap opera. Not worth reading.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Penn on March 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Grace Bagshaw Vance does not hesitate to wield a shotgun or dump gravel on the only paved road that leads to Stone Senterra's mountain production headquarters. Widowed, this thirty-four year-old ex-beauty queen and former host of a popular morning show on Atlanta TV earns the classic southern pronouncement, "She's crazy, bless her heart." Her husband Harp, a GBI agent, gave his life to prevent a serial killer from blowing up Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. His status as a national hero garnered the attention of action-movie superstar Stone Senterra who plans to direct the movie about Harp's life and death. Unfortunately, with such blockbuster films to his credit as Viper Platoon and Death Squad Patrol, Stone's ability to keep his outrageous tendencies under control seems doubtful.
Stone's bodyguard Boone Noleene proves to be the only hindrance in Grace's plans. She gracefully handles Stone's outrageous sister who stars in his movies and oversees publicity. She forces Stone changing locations to Alabama, and she strongly affects those who star in the movie. But Boone and she quickly develop a passion and an impossible desire that neither can afford to fulfill. Beneath the surface they are surprising alike, concealing poignant and painful pasts. They are equally loyal and equally determined as well, despite the fact that Grace intends to stop the movie Boone's boss vows to film.
CHARMING GRACE becomes a poignant and provocative account of the power of the media to reshape the world according to the price of a ticket. Grace struggle to preserve the memory of her husband even as Stone's careless exposure becomes far less than the truth. Her instant attraction to his bodyguard lends profound shades of grey to a tale that is at once simple and yet deeply complex.
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