Leap of Faith

( 48 )

Overview

Growing up in a beautiful old french chateau, Marie-Ange has the kind of childhood that most people dream of. A tragic accident when she is eleven leaves her an orphan, ends her idyllic life, and sends her to live with her great-aunt on a farm in Iowa. The work is endless and she dreams of the day she can return to her beloved chateau. Then, just after her twenty-first birthday, she learns she is a wealthy heiress. Returning to France, she falls in love with the dashing widower who is the chateau's new owner. ...
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Overview

Growing up in a beautiful old french chateau, Marie-Ange has the kind of childhood that most people dream of. A tragic accident when she is eleven leaves her an orphan, ends her idyllic life, and sends her to live with her great-aunt on a farm in Iowa. The work is endless and she dreams of the day she can return to her beloved chateau. Then, just after her twenty-first birthday, she learns she is a wealthy heiress. Returning to France, she falls in love with the dashing widower who is the chateau's new owner. Slowly, however, their magical life together takes an ominous turn. As the darkness gathers around her, Marie-Ange must find the faith and courage to take a desperate step to save her loved ones...and herself.

It is about being seduced and lied to and turned around, and wanting to believe the lies — until the moment comes, in one blinding instant, when survival and salvation depend on a final Leap of Faith: the only path to freedom, and life.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Danielle Steel weaves another tangled web of deceit and betrayal in Leap of Faith, the story of one woman’s triumph over several kinds of adversity. Orphaned at the age of 11, Marie-Ange Hawkins is forced to leave her family’s château in France and live with her cold and uncaring elderly aunt on a farm in Iowa. There she befriends the boy next door, who grows up at her side and comes to love her. But when Marie-Ange turns 21, she learns that her penny-pinching aunt has hidden the fact that her parents left millions of dollars in trust. Heady with her newfound wealth, Marie-Ange returns to her childhood home, where she meets the handsome Comte Bernard de Beauchamp. A whirlwind marriage and two children follow, but Marie-Ange soon learns that her husband is not the man she thinks he is; he just may be a cold-blooded killer.
Library Journal
When her parents die, Marie-Ange is exiled from her beloved Chateau Marmouton--to America, of all places, where a grudging great-aunt awaits. Will she ever be able to reclaim her chateau? Is this a Danielle Steel novel? Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Entertaining fluff, perfect when the book report is due tomorrow. At age 11, Marie-Ange's idyllic, rich, sheltered life in rural France is shattered when her adoring parents are killed in a car accident. She's sent off to gruff great-aunt Carol to live on an Iowa farm, and Marie becomes Carol's "slave" and wears clothes from the Goodwill store. Her only moments of happiness are with her friend Billy at school. When Marie comes of age, she learns that she is wealthy; her aunt did not use any of her large trust fund. On a return trip to the family chateau in France she meets and falls in love with Bernard, a widower. But what are his motives? Who should Marie trust? This heart-wrenching, soap-opera romance will grab the attention of teens who want a fast read. Steel quickly and efficiently develops the characters as the action unfolds. Much of the plot would be considered predictable, but there are a few surprises.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440236993
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 382,767
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world's most popular authors, with over 450 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Lone Eagle, Journey, The House on Hope Street, The Wedding, Irresistible Forces, Granny Dan, Bittersweet, The Klone and I, Mirror Image, The Long Road Home, The Ghost, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina's life and death.

Biography

When it comes to commanding bestseller lists, no writer can come close to Danielle Steel. Her work has been published in 47 countries, in 28 languages. She has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the author who has spent the most consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. She has not only published novels, but has written non-fiction, a book of poetry, and two series of children's books. Many of her books have been adapted for television movies, one of which (Jewels) was nominated for two Golden Globe awards. She has received the title of Chevalier of the distinguished Order of Arts and Letters by the French Government for her immense body of work. In short, to say that Steel is the single most popular living writer in the world is no overstatement.

Steel published her first novel, Going Home, when she was a mere 26 years old, and the book introduced readers to many of the themes that would dominate her novels for the next 30-odd years. It is an exploration of human relationships told dramatically, a story of the past's thrall on the present. Anyone familiar with Steel's work will recognize these themes as being close to her heart, as are familial issues, which are at the root of her many mega-sellers.

Although Steel has a reputation among critics as being a writer of fluffy, escapist fare, she never shies away from taking on dark subject matter, having addressed illnesses, incest, suicide, divorce, death, the Holocaust, and war in her work. Of course, even when she is handling unsavory topics, she does so entertainingly and with refinement. Her stories may often cross over into the realm of melodrama, but she never fails to spin a compelling yarn told with a skilled ear for dialogue and character, while consistently showing how one can overcome the greatest of tragedies. Ever prolific, she usually produces several books per year, often juggling multiple projects at the same time.

With all of the time and effort Steel puts into her work (she claims to sometimes spend as much as 20 hours a day at her keyboard), it is amazing that she still has time for a personal life. However, as one might assume from her work, family is still incredibly important to her, and she maintains a fairly private personal life. Fortunately for her millions of fans, she continues to devote more than a small piece of that life to them.

Good To Know

Along with her famed adult novels, Steel has also written two series of books for kids with the purpose of helping them through difficult situations, such as dealing with a new stepfather and coping with the death of a grandparent.

When Steel isn't working on her latest bestseller or spending time with her beloved family, she is devoting her time to one of several philanthropic projects to benefit the mentally ill, the homeless, and abused children.

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    1. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 14, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Marie-Ange Hawkins lay in the tall grass, beneath a huge, old tree, listening to the birds, and watching the puffy white clouds travel across the sky on a sunny August morning. She loved lying there, listening to the bees, smelling the flowers, and helping herself to an apple from the orchards. She lived in a safe, protected world, surrounded by people who loved her. And she particularly loved running free in the summer. She had lived at the Chateau de Marmouton for all of her eleven years, and roamed its woods and hills like a young doe, wading ankle deep in the little stream that ran through it. There were horses and cows, and a proper barnyard on the lower property at the old farmhouse. The men who worked the farm always smiled and waved when they saw her. She was a laughing, happy child, and a free spirit. And most of the time, as she wandered through the tall grass, or picked apples and peaches in the orchard, she was barefoot.

"You look like a little gypsy!" her mother scolded her, but she always smiled when she said it. Francoise Hawkins adored both her children.

Her son Robert had been born shortly after the war, eleven months after she married John Hawkins. John had started his business, exporting wine, at the same time, and within five years, he had made an immense amount of money. They had bought the Chateau de Marmouton when Marie-Ange was born, and she had grown up there. She went to the local school in the village, the same lycee that Robert had attended. And now, in a month, he was leaving for the Sorbonne, in Paris. He was going to study economics, and eventually work in his father's business. The business had grown by leaps and bounds, and John himself was amazed at how successful it had become, and how comfortable they were as a result of it. Francoise was very proud of him. She always had been. Theirs was a remarkable and romantic story.

In the last months of the war, as an American soldier, John had been parachuted into France, and broken a leg when he landed in a tree on Francoise's parents' small farm. She and her mother had been there alone, her father was in the Resistance, and had been out at one of the secret meetings he attended nearly every night. They had hidden John in the attic. Francoise had been sixteen then, and more than a little dazzled by John's tall, midwestern good looks and charm. He was a farm boy himself and only four years older than she was.

Her mother had kept a watchful eye on them, afraid that Francoise would fall in love with him and do something foolish. But John had been respectful of her, and as much in love eventually as Francoise was. She taught him French, and he taught her English, in their whispered conversations at night, in the pitch black of the attic. They had never dared to light so much as a candle, for fear that the Germans would see them. He had stayed with them for four months, and by the time he left, Francoise was heartbroken over his going. Her father and some of his friends from the Resistance had spirited him back to the Americans, and he had eventually taken part in the liberation of Paris. But he had promised Francoise he would come back for her, and she knew without a doubt that he would.

Her parents were killed in the final days just before the liberation, and she was sent to Paris to live with cousins. She had no way of reaching John, his address had been lost in the chaos, and she had no idea he was in Paris. Long afterward, they learned that they had been within a mile or two of each other most of the time, as she lived just off the Boulevard Saint-Germain, and he never knew it.

John was shipped back to the States before seeing her again, and returned to Iowa. He had his own family worries. His father had been killed in Guam, and he had to take care of his own family's farm with his mother, sisters, and brothers. He wrote to Francoise as soon as he got back, but his letters were neither returned, nor answered. They never reached her. And it was a full two years before he had saved up enough money to go back to France, to see if he could find her. He had been obsessed with her since he left. And when he reached the farm where they had met, he found that it had been sold and was inhabited by strangers. And all the neighbors knew was that Francoise's parents were dead and she had gone to Paris.

He went there next, and used every resource he could think of to find her, the police, the Red Cross, the registry at the Sorbonne, as many local schools as he could visit. And on the day before he was to leave, sitting in a small cafe on the Left Bank, as though by a miracle, he saw her, walking slowly along the street in the rain, with her head down. At first, he thought it was a stranger who just looked like Francoise, but as he glanced at her more closely, and then ran after her, feeling foolish, but knowing he had to try one last time, she burst into tears the moment she saw him and threw her arms around him.

They spent the evening together at her cousins' home, and he left for the States the following morning. They corresponded for a year after that, and then he finally returned to Paris, to stay this time. She was nineteen, and he was twenty-three by then, and they were married two weeks after he got back to Paris. In the ensuing years, nineteen of them, they had never left each other for a moment. They left Paris after Robert was born, and John eventually said he felt more at home in France than he ever had living in Iowa with his parents. It was meant to be, they always said, as they smiled at each other whenever they told their story. Marie-Ange had heard the tale a thousand times, and people always said it was very romantic.

Marie-Ange had never met her father's relatives. His parents had died before she was born, and both his brothers. A sister had died a few years before, and his other sister was killed in an accident when Marie-Ange was a baby. His only surviving relative was an aunt on his father's side, but Marie-Ange could tell from the way her father talked about her that he didn't like her. None of his relatives had ever come to France, and he had said more than once that they thought he was crazy when he moved to Paris to be with her mother.

Francoise's cousins had died in an accident when Marie-Ange was three, she had no grandparents, and her mother had no brothers or sisters. The only family Marie-Ange had were her brother Robert, and her parents, and a great-aunt somewhere in Iowa, whom her father hated. He had explained to Marie-Ange once that she was "mean-spirited and small-minded," whatever that meant. They no longer even corresponded. But Marie-Ange felt no lack of family. Her life was full, and the people in it treated her like a blessing and a joy, and even her name said she was an angel. Everyone thought of her that way, even her brother Robert, who loved to tease her.

She was going to miss him when he went away, but Francoise had already promised Marie-Ange that she would take her to Paris to see him often. John had business there, and he and Francoise loved going to Paris for a night or two away. Usually when they did, they left Marie-Ange with Sophie, the elderly housekeeper who had been with them since Robert was a baby. She had come to the chateau with them, and lived in a little house on the property. Marie-Ange loved to visit her, and sip tea and eat the cookies that Sophie baked for her.

Marie-Ange's life was perfect in every way. She had the kind of childhood that most people dreamed of. Freedom, love, security, and she lived in a beautiful old chateau, like a little princess. And when her mother dressed her in the pretty dresses she bought in Paris for her, she even looked like one. Or so her father told her. Though when she ran barefoot through the fields, in the dresses and smocks she tore while climbing trees, he loved to say that she looked like an orphan.

"So, little one, what mischief are you up to today?" her brother asked when he came to find her for lunch. Sophie had gotten too old to chase after her, and their mother had sent Robert to find her, as he often did. He knew all her favorite haunts and hiding places.

"Nothing." She had peaches smeared all over her face, and her pockets were full of peach pits as she smiled at him. He was tall and handsome and blond, like their father, as was Marie-Ange. She had blond curls, and blue eyes, and the face of an angel. Only Francoise had dark hair and big velvety brown eyes, and her husband often said that he wished they had another child, who looked just like her. But there was a lot of Francoise's sense of mischief and fun in Marie-Ange's spirit.

"Maman says it's time for you to come in for lunch," Robert said, shepherding her like a young colt. He didn't want to admit it to her, but he knew how much he would miss her when he went to Paris. Ever since she could walk, she had been his shadow.

"I'm not hungry," the child said, grinning at him.

"Of course not, you eat fruit all day. It's amazing you don't get a stomachache from it."

"Sophie says it's good for me."

"So is lunch. Come on, Papa will be home any minute. You have to come and wash your face, and put some shoes on." He took her by the hand, and she followed him back to the house, teasing and playing, and running around him like a puppy.

And when her mother saw her, she groaned at what the child looked like. "Marie-Ange," she said to her in French. Only John spoke to Marie-Ange in English, and she was surprisingly proficient, although she had an accent. "That was a new dress you put on this morning. It's in shreds now." Francoise rolled her eyes, but she never looked angry. Most of the time, she was amused by her daughter's antics.

"No, Maman, it's just the pinafore that's torn. The dress is still all right," Marie-Ange reassured her with a sheepish grin.

"Thank Heaven for small favors. Now go and wash your face and hands, and put shoes on. Sophie will help you." The old woman in the frayed black dress and clean apron followed Marie-Ange out of the kitchen, and upstairs to her room on the top floor of the chateau. It wasn't easy for her to get around anymore, but she would have gone to the ends of the earth for her "baby." She had cared for Robert when he was born, and had been overjoyed when Marie-Ange came as a surprise seven years later. She loved the entire Hawkins family as though they had been her children. She had a daughter of her own, but she lived in Normandy and they seldom saw each other. Sophie would never have admitted it, but she was far more devoted to the Hawkins children than she had ever been to her own daughter. And like Marie-Ange, she was sad that Robert was leaving them and going to study in Paris. But she knew it would be good for him, and she would see him when he came home for holidays and vacations.

John had talked briefly about sending his son to the States to study for a year, but Francoise didn't like the idea, and Robert himself had finally admitted that he didn't want to go so far away. They were a close-knit family, and he had a vast number of friends in the region. Paris was far enough away for him, and like his mother, and sister, he was profoundly French, in spite of his American father.

John was seated at the kitchen table by the time Marie-Ange came downstairs. Francoise had just poured him a glass of wine, and a smaller one for Robert. They drank wine at every meal, and sometimes they gave Marie-Ange a few drops in a glass of water. John had adapted easily and well to French customs. He had conducted his business in French for years, but spoke to his children in English so they would learn the language. And Robert was far more fluent than his sister.

The conversation at lunch was as lively as usual. John and Robert spoke about business, while Francoise commented on various bits of local news, and made sure that Marie-Ange didn't make a mess while she was eating. Although she was allowed to roam the fields, her education had been a formal one, and she had extremely good manners, when she chose to use them.

"And you, little one, what have you done today?" her father asked her, tousling her curls with one hand, while Francoise served him a cup of strong, steaming filtered coffee.

"She's been stripping your orchards, Papa," Robert said, laughing at her, and Marie-Ange looked from one to the other with amusement.

"Robert says eating too many peaches will give me a stomachache, but it doesn't," she said proudly. "I'm going to visit the farm later," she said, like a young queen planning to visit her subjects. Marie-Ange had never met anyone she didn't like, nor anyone who found her less than enchanting. She was the proverbial golden child, and Robert especially loved her. Because of the seven-year gap in their age, there had never been any jealousy between them.

"You're going to have to go back to school soon," her father reminded her. "The vacation is almost over." But the reminder made Marie-Ange frown. She knew that it meant Robert would be leaving, and when the time came, they all knew it would be hard for her, and for him as well, although he was excited by the adventure of living in Paris.

They had found him a small apartment on the Left Bank, and his mother was going to settle him in before they left him to his studies. She had already sent several pieces of furniture and trunks ahead, all of which were waiting for him in Paris.

When the big day finally came for Robert to leave, Marie-Ange got out of bed at dawn and was hiding in the orchard when Robert came looking for her before breakfast.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2008

    best book yet for DS

    Loved this book and the plot was excellent. I couldn't put this book down and read it in one day. I hope that she gets her creative juices back and starts writing like this again because her last 5 or 6 books have been so predictable. But overall this was GREAT!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2003

    Great Book!

    I really enjoyed reading this book! I had a hard time putting the book down. Very neat ending.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2005

    The Best!!!!

    I thought that this book was so wonderful! At many times I thought that i was not going to be able to put this book down!!! It would be really great if Danielle Steel came out with a sequel!! I wish there was a movie too!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2012

    I

    Dhkoo lreao

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 15, 2012

    great book highly recommend

    a book that keeps you reading

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2010

    Great Book

    I loved this book, it was easy to read and very interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2008

    Can I give a zero?

    I had to force myself to finish this book. The stupidity of the main character, MarieAnge, was too painful to tolerate! Okay, dear, it's okay that you are spending millions of dollars revonating a home and spending another few million on a new house. I don't mind fronting you all of those millions because your investments haven't matured. It's okay that you have hidden in a storage facility another couple million dollars of antiques and art that I didn't know about, and that you haven't paid for. It's okay that you told me that your wife and son were killed in a fire. It's okay that your ex wife told me that you set the fire and locked your wife and step son in the bedroom so that you could get her inheritence....I believe you and your explanations. Please!!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2005

    hard to believe anyone is so stupid

    Let me tell you the main female character in this book is one dumb behind broad...I know this is just a work of fiction but come on!! This woman was as dense as a brick...If you want to pass the time and don't have anything else better to do, and absolutely have nothing else to read, then I guess this would do...I certainly hope the rest of Ms.Steele's book are better than this one...

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2003

    Loved it!

    This was my first Danielle Steel novel. I LOVED every page. I'll be checking out more of her novels. Ü

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2003

    Leap of Faith

    I really enjoyed Leap of Faith, it was the second novel I had read from Danielle Steel. It truly displayed overcoming loss, accepting a completely new life and culture as well as trusting again and falling in love. I thought from the start that Marie Ange was meant to be with Billy. The ending could have focused a little more on their new life together. But I still loved the book!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2003

    Great Read!

    I took this book with me on vacation and finished it in one day sitting by the pool. This was my first Danielle Steel book, and it didn't let me down. I passed it on to my mom as well. I really enjoyed it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2003

    Leap of Faith

    Leap of Faith was my second Danielle Steel novel. It was byfar my favorite! This novel displays the courage to love and trust again. It also displays hard work. The story of Marie-Ange is truly the best tale of overcoming grief and loss and starting over in a new culture.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2003

    Girl from Norway

    This is one of the best book`s I ever read. It took me two days to read the book, i just couldnt stop reading, it was too exiting. Im even going to write a summary to my teacher, Im alsow lectureing the book to my classmates. This is realy a star!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2003

    Danielle, you are #1 4ever!!!

    I love you Danielle. I loved the book. It made me feel like I was one of the characters in the story. It was so inspiring, and imaginative. I can't wait for your next book! Keep writing, you're good at it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2002

    Great Book!

    I really liked this book because it is a fast read and it is a hardship story. Although, it is not in true Danielle Steel, wistful romance, fashion it is still a good story. If you like to read VC Andrews books, you will love this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2002

    Page Turner

    This was the first book by Danielle Steel that I had read. It was a wonderful book, I thought, but the ending was not what I wanted it to be. One of the best things about this book was how Marie-Ange was such a strong character through her whole life, even when things got so hard for her, she kept going and didn¿t give up. She followed her dream no matter what it was. She set goals for herself, and didn't let anything stop her. It was her determination for a good life, which inspired me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2002

    great but also a let down......

    this is a very heart capturing book from Danielle Steel. It's a tremendous story about a young woman who's life changes the moment she marries her husband...but the ending wasn't as great as the story. But other than that, i really recommend this book to any reader whose into romance novels

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2001

    A great way to spend an evening at home!

    This book was great! I love Danielle Steel's books. I could hardly put this one down. I started it at about 5:00 in the evening and finished about 9:30 or 10:00. Is a quick, fun read that you will enjoy. It also has many lessons about how well you actually know people and how you should use your head and trust your instincts. it says to trust your heart and take a 'Leap of faith' whenever you are in trouble. This is a book for beginners and all time Danielle Steel fans!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2002

    Great Read

    Great Book!!!! Grabs you right from the beginning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2002

    As much as I like D. Steel...

    As much as I like D Steel, I have to agree with some of the other people here. This book is a nice quick read, but it's not a 'story' per say. It's a brief over-view of this girls life. It's hard to get attached to any of the characters in this short book. The story had opportunities to be a good one, but DS didn't open up to those ideas. I liked her other 'smaller' books better, like the Gift & Special Delivery

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews

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