The final Sweet Magnolias story has many strong points, but it’s the sensitive handling of heroine Raylene’s issues that makes it truly worthwhile.
Since escaping a loveless and abusive marriage, Raylene Hammond has been living with her friend Sara Price in Serenity — and has become agoraphobic. Coping with the problem is always difficult, but when one of Sarah’s children runs off while in Raylene’s care, it becomes terrifying. Only one good thing comes of the near tragedy: Raylene meets sheriff’s deputy Carter Rollins, who’s new in town — and the first man who’s vaguely interested her since her divorce. The path to true love doesn’t run smoothly. Carter’s raising his two young sisters alone, and has his hands full. And even with the help of a therapist, Raylene isn’t sure she’ll ever overcome her phobia. But where there’s a will, there just may be a way. (MIRA, Jun., 384 pp., $7.99)