Self-taught furniture restorer and successful business owner Teddi Overman has built a good life. Yet a mystery from her past lingers.
Raised in Kentucky, Teddi had an idyllic, if offbeat childhood. Her controlling mother, Franny, discounted her ability to transform junk into art, even after Teddi’s faux-finished bedside table earned her $100 and an invitation to visit an antiques dealer in Charleston. Franny instead bought Teddi a typewriter as a graduation gift and pushed her to go to secretarial school. Teddi’s father, silent and supportive, gave her a car and a map: her tickets to freedom. Josh—Teddi’s younger brother, a gifted naturalist and possible vigilante—gave her a horned owl’s feather and wished her luck. But then Teddi broke her mother’s heart, her father died, and Josh disappeared. Burying herself in her work, Teddi relies on her quirky collection of friends and foes. Mr. Palmer, the owner of the Charleston antiques store, gives Teddi her first chance and introduces her to Albert, a brilliant furniture repairer. Olivia, a rare books conservationist and Teddi’s best friend, meets her in the cemetery for emergency confidences over lunch. Tedra and Preston Calhoun help her negotiate the world of bank loans with distinct Southern charm. And then there’s Miz Tula Jane Poteet: a nice but forgetful little old lady or a kleptomaniac? Of course, her lawyer son eagerly pays for all of Tula Jane’s “purchases,” but he just as eagerly cuts short every conversation with Teddi. Just as love begins to nudge at the edges of Teddi’s life, she is forced to reckon with Josh’s disappearance and her mother’s dashed expectations. Hoffman’s (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, 2010) sophomore novel confusingly mingles a charming Southern-girl romance with a weighty mystery.
The romance resolves predictably, yet the mystery leaves far too many loose threads.