The Debutante's Second Chance
The Debutante’s Second Chance is a pleasant low key romance set in a small Indiana river town. A serious thread runs through the story – the heroine is a former abused wife who runs an underground railroad for abused women and children. Despite its dark subject matter, the book is sweet and sunny and low key, which drew me in, but also kept me at arm’s distance.
Taft, Indiana is a quaint small town on the Ohio river. Years ago, Micah Walker graduated from high school in Taft and couldn’t wait to leave. He lived in a subdivision, not in the more prestigious River Walk neighborhood, and always resented it. He really resented Landy Wisdom, who did live on River Walk, and dated golden boy Blake Trent. Landy was always nice, but Micah had a chip on his shoulder. He left Taft and spent several years working on newspapers in Lexington and Louisville. Now, burned out by big city journalism, Micah and his widowed father return to Taft. Micah has bought the local newspaper and he wants to make it a real community paper. Many of his old high school friends remained in Taft and they think it’s a splendid plan. Landy is still in Taft too, but she’s not the golden girl any more. Landy has caps on her teeth, crooked fingers, and she limps badly.
Landy and Blake Trent married out of college. He had hit her in high school and in college as well, but blinded by love, she forgave him. The violence only got worse until she finally divorced him. Blake remarried, but beat his new wife. When she came to Landy for help, Blake came after them. Blake and Landy struggled, and they fell down the stairs. He was killed, she broke her leg in three places. She’s come to grips with her relationship with Blake and even has forgiven him, but she has trust issues and understandably so. Landy also has a secret life. Her house is a stop on a railroad for abused women and children – a place where they can stay to figure out what they want to do next. Her most recent guest is Allison Scott, Micah’s best reporter.
Micah throws himself back into the community life with great gusto. He makes changes to the paper that boost its circulation, he becomes involved with helping a little boy with cancer who needs a transplant, he coaches the kid’s sports teams, and he begins to court Landy. Micah is nothing if not kind and a true gentleman, and Landy can’t help but like him. But she still has deep, deep trust issues – one moment she is fine and the next she is fearful.
The Debutante’s Second Chance is a pleasant slice of small town life. All the characters (with the exception of Allison’s brutal husband) are nice. The town is pretty, the kids are nice, it’s all very sweet. The abused wife sub-plot didn’t seem all that menacing. There were just too many nice people who were all eager and willing to help. Even at the end, when the brutal husband came after Landy, I wasn’t all that worried – he simply wasn’t that menacing, despite his threats and actions.
I liked the low key atmosphere of the book. The characters don’t declaim, or act like larger than life caricatures and they were all realistic. But at times the book was a bit too low key. It was as if I was reading the book from a distance. There wasn’t a sense of immediacy about it at all.
However, this is a smoothly written, sweet book with characters whom it is easy to like. Sometimes, it’s not a bad thing to read a book about plain old ordinary people who have realistic problems and have to deal with them. If you are fond of that kind of story – this is your book.