Needing to recharge, burned-out ER nurse Ella Majors accepts a job taking care of 5-year-old diabetic Marion Henderson in South Carolina's low country. Marion's father, Harris, struggles with his daughter's condition, while running a bird of prey sanctuary and rehabilitation center. When the calm Ella arrives, she's a godsend. Another addition to his life comes when teenager Brady Simmons shoots one of Harris's eagles; part of his punishment is working at the center. Before long, Brady too succumbs to the magic of the birds.
Meanwhile, Ella and Harris fall in love, but Marion's drug-addicted mother, Fannie, threatens everything with an unexpected return. All must learn that giving your heart means taking a big risk, and it takes time to realize if you've made the right choice.
Without a doubt, Mary Alice Monroe has become one of the premier voices in contemporary women's fiction today. Her lyrical, emotional and gripping stories make for superb reading experiences. (Jul., 416 pp., $6.99)