As the town of Biloxi readies itself for the festival that will kick off both the tourist and shrimping season, three little girls dream of being chosen Little Princess.

Being brought up by their widowed father, the girls are often left with governesses or people who live on the wharfs while their father is out with his ship. They've just chased off another governess when Meredith Stanfield runs into them and finds herself agreeing to care for them until someone else can be found.

The decision is somewhat difficult, as it necessitates her both taking time away from her business and leaving her very dependent mother and sister to care for themselves. It also puts her in the employ of the girl's father, Quade Cameron, a man embittered since his wife's death and a man Meredith has been forced to turn down when he came for a loan.

There's a definite attraction between the two and enough animosity to sink Quade's ship. As the two work together in the girls' best interest, respect begins to grow along with love. The two must work through misunderstandings and threats to their happiness, but with the help of the three young hooligans, anything is possible.

This wonderful debut novel is full of warmth and humor, as a man must decide whether to protect himself from any more hurt or open himself up to his children and a woman's love. Ms. Pace's brilliant use of words and smooth storytelling make this a must read. SWEET (June, 254 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Debbie Richardson