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by Ann B. Ross

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-670-02437-7
Publisher: Viking

In the 16th installment of the Abbotsville novels, Miss Julia steps to the margins so sexy Etta Mae Wiggins, collector of Barbies and lover of men, can enter the spotlight.

Etta Mae, just 30 and twice divorced, wants a little respect from the blue-nosed ladies of the garden club; she aspires to greater things than life in a trailer park and hard hours as a home health care assistant. Rich old Mr. Howard Connard is recovering from a stroke with her patient help and has asked her to marry him; they’re secretly planning the society wedding of her dreams. Then Mr. Connard Junior comes to town, barring Etta Mae from contact with his father, whom he’s shipping off to an old folks home. Etta Mae needs to marry Mr. Howard within a day. If only her ex-husband Skip didn’t show up at her double-wide, hiding out from thugs trying to steal his winning lottery ticket. And then a few hours later, she discovers Junior unconscious on her couch, his head banged in (requiring lots of conversations with the sheriff, which she just doesn’t have time for). Though there are amusing coming and goings in Abbotsville, too often Ross uses obvious shortcuts to build her characters—Etta Mae’s Kathie Lee Gifford dress from Wal-Mart, her collector NASCAR Barbie—which results in a caricature instead of a sympathetic portrait of her heroine. A slapstick lingerie shower, featuring vengeful hillbillies and a drunk Miss Julia, is followed by a (more age-appropriate) happy ending for our Etta Mae.

Much of the same Southern-fried slapstick from Ross; only for fans of the series.