Returning to her Appalachian hometown brings a young woman far more than she bargained for.
Having moved several times in recent years, Anna Wall is just beginning to feel comfortable in San Francisco, with a promising catering job and a cookbook about to be published. But when she learns that developers are trying to push her eccentric, aging great-aunt off of her land to build a Christian theme park, Anna feels compelled to leave her new life and return to Bitter Creek, the small Appalachian town where she grew up. Upon her arrival, she is forced to confront not only the ruthless developers and her money-driven brother, but her highschool sweetheart, Bill Collins, who disappeared from her life more than a decade earlier. After spending time with her great-aunt, she discovers that the old woman has much folk wisdom to impart, and Anna is eager to learn more about her gypsy heritage. Becoming reacquainted with the town and surroundings she once loved, Anna decides to write a book about Appalachian cooking and culture, and begins interviewing her neighbors. While soliciting recipes, she also lobbies support for her great-aunt, knowing that many people in the town are looking forward to the jobs the theme park will supposedly bring. Though most of the townspeople are welcoming toward her, when the developers soon prove themselves willing to go to deadly lengths to get what they want, Anna finds few willing to believe that the churchgoers could be behind the attempts made on her life. Collier’s engrossing narrative features vivid, sympathetic characters in Anna and her great-aunt, but Bill is less fully drawn, even compared to other minor characters, and remains a bit of a mystery throughout.
An enjoyable romantic thriller.