HEIRESS FOR HIRE
There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's Amanda Delmar's father. The spoiled socialite hasn't worked a day in her 26 years and, in an attempt to quell her boredom and irk dear old dad, has run away from Chicago to Cuttersville, Ohio. Her plan works -- especially when Daddy decides it's time for tough love: "No. More. Money. Ever." Before you can say "insufficient funds," the pampered princess is forced to find a job.
Danny Tucker quickly learns the validity of the old adage "be careful what you wish for" when he yearns for a family and, suddenly, has an 8-year-old daughter he never knew about dumped on his porch. Neglected and fearful, Piper wasn't exactly what he had in mind, yet her forlorn face and indomitable spirit immediately steal his heart. Still, girly stuff is a tad out of his element. Fortunately, feminine frills and frippery are something one destitute heiress is well-equipped to help him with. So the farmer and the fashionista work together to make Piper a real home and, in the process, discover couture and country don't have to clash.
This is the perfect blend of sentiment and silliness, heat and heart. McCarthy's exemplary characters leap off the page, each voice unique, and every action germane to their being. Watching Amanda transform from a breezy and plasticized debutante to an authentic and tenacious mother figure is greatly satisfying. Add in the superior characterization, hysterical humor, a pinch of the paranormal and crackling sexual tension and McCarthy's book is priceless. (Jan., 304 pp., $13.00)