Duets 99

The Treasure Man

Down Home Carolina Christmas
by Pamela Browning
(Harl. American #1186, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-75190-7
What would happen if a small town boy at heart comes to a little town in South Carolina to make a movie? He is a major Hollywood commodity and has women falling at his feet, but what if he finds himself attracted to a little lady who owns her family’s auto garage, wears overalls and often has grease on her face? What warm blooded American female hasn’t envisioned a rich movie star discovering her and sweeping her off her feet? Down Home Carolina Christmas takes on these questions and more.

Luke Mason pulls his Ferrari into Smitty’s garage for gas and is blown away by the cute little mechanic who strolls out to check on his car. Carolina Rose Smith (Carrie for short) would love to get her hands on that Ferrari, but it is the man that grabs her attention. Luke is in town to film a story about a racecar pioneer who grew up in their small town of Yewville. There are a lot of people all pumped up about the boon to their economy, the glamour of the stars and the chance to get a bit part as an extra. Not Carrie. She is aggravated that the movie people are trying to convince her to close her garage for months so they can use it as part of the set. They really pull her in though, when Luke’s co-star can’t seem to get the accent right and Carrie inadvertently helps her. The starlet, Tiffany Zill, takes a liking to her and demands that she be her coach.

This is a nice little story but it doesn’t have much meat to it. The story really revolves around the movie, and whether Carrie and Luke can have a romance that lasts. There are some cute scenes, like when Tiffany ends up topless in the lake after a waterskiing mishap and Carrie is the “lifeguard” who saves her. There are some animals that play a role in the matchmaking that adds more cuteness to the story. And since Carrie is renovating her run down Victorian home, there are a few scenes of water running in and buckets being filled.

The romance between Luke and Carrie is fun to watch develop, but even just a few days after reading the story, only one scene in an old abandoned drive-in theatre comes to mind. There is a remembered sense that the two enjoyed sharing and learning about each other as their relationship developed, and behind it all was Carrie’s sense of holding back in order to make sure that her heart was not broken. Beyond that there is not much that is memorable.

Luke was macho, yet warm and sweet. He is portrayed as one of those good guys who sought peace and didn’t want to get wrapped up in the Hollywood nonsense. He also has some baggage from his years in New Hampshire, and he ultimately has his parents move down to Yewville. Carrie gets involved and helps them settle in. This is where the Christmas part came in. Carrie is a bit saccharine at times, but generally she is a regular southern charmer. Idyllic small town life is alive and well in the tale too.

If you like a southern romance with lots of glitz but little real substance, and you want a tale to enjoy while you are reading it that will be hard to really recall once done, then grab Down Home Carolina Christmas.

--Shirley Lyons

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