This Matter of Marriage

( 434 )


If I want to get married and have a family (and I do), it's time for a plan!!

—from Hallie McCarthy's diary

The alarm on Hallie's biological clock is buzzing away. She's hitting the big three-0 and there's no prospect of marriage, no man in sight. But Hallie's an organized, goal-setting kind of person. She gives herself a year to meet Mr. Knight in Shining Armor. But all her dates are disasters. (There's the cheapskate and the sex fiend ...

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If I want to get married and have a family (and I do), it's time for a plan!!

—from Hallie McCarthy's diary

The alarm on Hallie's biological clock is buzzing away. She's hitting the big three-0 and there's no prospect of marriage, no man in sight. But Hallie's an organized, goal-setting kind of person. She gives herself a year to meet Mr. Knight in Shining Armor. But all her dates are disasters. (There's the cheapskate and the sex fiend and…well, never mind.)

Too bad she can't just fall for her good-looking neighbor, Steve Marris. He's definitely not her type. Anyway, Steve's busy trying to win back his ex-wife, Mary Lynn, who's busy getting married—but not to Steve. Life would be so much simpler if he could fall for someone else. Like…Hallie.

They're friends, though—and sometimes friends become lovers. Sometimes friends become more….

The dating game is always the same. One disaster after another. Fortunately, Hallie McCarthy can compare notes with her neighbor, Steve Marris. He's divorced and in the same boat. With his help, Hallie develops a campaign to find Mr. Right--too bad Hallie and Steve are not interested in each other! Original. (Fiction--Romance)

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Debbie Macomber] is skilled at creating characters who work their way into readers' hearts." -RT Book Reviews on Dakota Home

"I've never met a Macomber book I didn't love!" - #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

"Popular romance writer Macomber has a gift for evoking the emotions that are at the heart of the genre's popularity." -Publishers Weekly

"Debbie Macomber's name on a book is a guarantee of delightful, warmhearted romance." -Jayne Ann Krentz

"Macomber offers a very human look at three women who uproot their lives to follow their true destiny." -Booklist on Changing Habits

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778315360
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 629,895
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber
Debbie Macomber, with more than 100 million copies of her books sold worldwide, is one of today's most popular authors. The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Debbie is a regular resident on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times (70 times and counting), USA TODAY (currently 67 times) and Publishers Weekly (47 times). Visit her at


Publishing did not come easy to self-described "creative speller" Debbie Macomber. When Macomber decided to follow her dreams of becoming a bestselling novelist, she had a lot of obstacles in her path. For starters, Macomber is dyslexic. On top of this, she had only a high school degree, four young children at home, and absolutely no connections in the publishing world. If there's one thing you can say about Debbie Macomber, however, it is that she does not give up. She rented a typewriter and started writing, determined to break into the world of romance fiction.

The years went on and the rejection letters piled up. Her family was living on a shoestring budget, and Debbie was beginning to think that her dreams of being a novelist might never be fulfilled. She began writing for magazines to earn some extra money, and she eventually saved up enough to attend a romance writer's conference with three hundred other aspiring novelists. The organizers of the conference picked ten manuscripts to review in a group critique session. Debbie was thrilled to learn that her manuscript would be one of the novels discussed.

Her excitement quickly faded when an editor from Harlequin tore her manuscript to pieces in front of the crowded room, evoking peals of laughter from the assembled writers. Afterwards, Macomber approached the editor and asked her what she could do to improve her novel. "Throw it away," the editor suggested.

Many writers would have given up right then and there, but not Macomber. The deeply religious Macomber took a lesson from Job and gathered strength from adversity. She returned home and mailed one last manuscript to Silhouette, a publisher of romance novels. "It cost $10 to mail it off," Macomber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2000. "My husband was out of work at this time, in Alaska, trying to find a job. The children and I were living on his $250-a-week unemployment, and I can't tell you what $10 was to us at that time."

It turned out to be the best $10 Macomber ever spent. In 1984, Silhouette published her novel, Heartsong. (Incidentally, although Heartsong was Macomber's first sale, she actually published another book, Starlight, before Heartsong went to print.) Heartsong went on to become the first romance novel to ever be reviewed in Publishers Weekly, and Macomber was finally on her way.

Today, Macomber is one of the most widely read authors in America. A regular on the New York Times bestseller charts, she is best known for her Cedar Cove novels, a heartwarming story sequence set in a small town in Washington state, and for her Knitting Books series, featuring a group of women who patronize a Seattle yarn store. In addition, her backlist of early romances, including several contemporary Westerns, has been reissued with great success.

Macomber has made a successful transition from conventional romance to the somewhat more flexible genre known as "women's fiction." "I was at a point in my life where I found it difficult to identify with a 25-year-old heroine," Macomber said in an interview with "I found that I wanted to write more about the friendships women share with each other." To judge from her avid, ever-increasing fan base, Debbie's readers heartily approve.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Macomber:

"I'm dyslexic, although they didn't have a word for it when I was in grade school. The teachers said I had 'word blindness.' I've always been a creative speller and never achieved good grades in school. I graduated from high school but didn't have the opportunity to attend college, so I did what young women my age did at the time -- I married. I was a teenager, and Wayne and I (now married nearly 37 years) had four children in five years."

"I'm a yarnaholic. That means I have more yarn stashed away than any one person could possibly use in three or four lifetimes. There's something inspiring about yarn that makes me feel I could never have enough. Often I'll go into my yarn room (yes, room!) and just hold skeins of yarn and dream about projects. It's a comforting thing to do."

"My office walls are covered with autographs of famous writers -- it's what my children call my ‘dead author wall.' I have signatures from Mark Twain, Earnest Hemingway, Jack London, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Pearl Buck, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to name a few."

"I'm morning person, and rip into the day with a half-mile swim (FYI: a half mile is a whole lot farther in the water than it is on land) at the local pool before I head into the office, arriving before eight. It takes me until nine or ten to read through all of the guest book entries from my web site and the mail before I go upstairs to the turret where I do my writing. Yes, I write in a turret -- is that romantic, or what? I started blogging last September and really enjoy sharing bits and pieces of my life with my readers. Once I'm home for the day, I cook dinner, trying out new recipes. Along with cooking, I also enjoy eating, especially when the meal is accompanied by a glass of good wine. Wayne and I take particular pleasure in sampling eastern Washington State wines (since we were both born and raised in that part of the state).

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    1. Hometown:
      Port Orchard, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 22, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yakima, Washington
    1. Education:
      Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

January 1

A new year generally starts out with me writing a few inspiring lines about how I'm going to lose five pounds—let's be honest, it's ten—and pay off all my credit cards and other high expectations like that. It's the same every January. But this year's going to be different. Oh, I still want to lose those extra pounds, more than ever, but for a different reason. I want a husband. And eventually a family. And that means I need a plan. Being a goaloriented person, I usually begin by identifying what I'm after (MARRIAGE!!) and then I work out a logical procedure for getting it. Which, in this case, includes looking good. (Not that I look bad now, if I do say so myself. But I'm talking really good. Are you listening, thighs?) Because, as I've learned in advertising, packaging counts. Putting all this into words is something of an eye-opener for me. I've come a long way from those college days when I refused to give in to what I called the "female escape route," like some of my friends. Cassie, Jamie, Rita and Jane all got married within six months of graduation, and as far as I could see, the only reason they did was because they found the real world more of a challenge than they'd anticipated, and used marriage as a cop-out.

Not me. Oh, no, marriage was much too conventional for me. I wanted to kick some butt in the business world first. Make a name for myself with my very own graphic arts firm. And I've done it! Now I feel like I've come full circle. I've accomplished a lot, and I won't minimize my achievements, but this Christmas I realized there's more to life than getting the Woman of the Year award from the Chamber of Commerce. So, last week I made the decision: Marriage! It's time to let a man into my life. Until now I've viewed relationships like…dessert. Nice occasionally, but not with every meal. My friends have been tossing potential husbands in my direction for years, and I've frustrated them again and again.

I'm too picky, that's what Rita says. Not true. I have my standards; every woman does. But my work's the reason I haven't married. I've poured my heart into making a success of Artistic License. For the past six years my focus, my talent and all my energy have been with the business. It's filled every waking minute. Then, this Christmas it hit me. I want more. I suspect this has something to do with losing Dad last June. Mom's still struggling, but then so are Julie and I. The holidays were really hard without him. Somehow, the celebration seemed empty and sad, and we were all kind of weepy thinking about the Christmas things he used to do—getting the tree every year and making a big deal out of hanging the decorations Julie and I made when we were kids. Reading the Nativity story on Christmas Eve. Putting on his Santa apron to carve the turkey. Things like that.

I'm so sorry Dad missed his granddaughter's first Christmas. I knew Julie's baby would help Mom through the grieving process, but I didn't expect little Ellen to have such a profound effect on me.

I've always thought of myself as the strong independent type. I haven't wanted a man around for fear I might be forced to admit I need someone. I don't know why I'm like this. (Then again, I'm not sure I want to know, either.) The point is, I feel differently now. It started when Julie gave me the baby to rock. I swear my heart melted when I held her. In that moment I felt something I can only describe as maternal instinct, and I realized this is what I want. This is what's been missing from my life. A husband, a family. With the right husband, I know I can have it all. Home, family and career. Plenty of women do it, and I can, too. Funny how a little thing like holding a baby can change a person's attitude. I'm ready. Past ready. Starting now, my life's taken an abrupt turn. What was vital a month ago has shifted to the back burner. So, yes, I admit it.

I want a husband and children. Obviously, what I need first is the man. (I plan to do things in the right order!) Mom always says that once I make up my mind I don't let anything stand in my way. I've set my goal, made my plans, and I figure I should find a husband in two, three months, tops. This time next year, I expect to be a married woman. (Maybe even a pregnant one!) Just how difficult can it be?

Sweat rolled down Hallie McCarthy's forehead, dripping in her eyes and momentarily blurring her vision. Using the towel draped around her neck, she wiped her brow. Although she'd promised herself she wouldn't, Hallie glanced at the timer on the treadmill. One minute left.

Sixty short seconds. She could endure that. With a renewed sense of purpose, she picked up her pace and waited impatiently for the buzzer.

The treadmill had all the bells and whistles, as it should, considering what she'd paid for it (plus the three designer running suits, color-coordinated with the treadmill). At the end of her workout a digital message would flash across the four-inch computer screen, complimenting her on a job well-done.

Donnalee had suggested she join a gym to meet men, and she would, Hallie told herself, once she was at her goal weight. But not now. She wasn't about to go prancing around a gym with thighs that resembled ham hocks. Which, she supposed, was something like cleaning her house before the cleaning lady arrived—but she'd done that, too.

Huffing, her heart feeling ready to explode, Hallie gripped the sides of the treadmill as the timer counted down those final seconds. This last minute was proving to be the longest of her life.

Needing a distraction to take her mind off the physical agony while she raced toward an imaginary finish line, Hallie turned to look out her living-room window at the luxury condominium next door.

Hey, she was getting a new neighbor. A moving van was parked in front and a crew of able-bodied men—very able-bodied, she noted appreciatively—unloaded its contents. A big truck that probably required a step stool to climb into was parked behind it. The license-plate frame was one of those customized ones. Squinting, she was able to make out the words: BIG TRUCK. BIG TOOLS. Hallie groaned aloud and rolled her eyes. Men and their egos! Two muscular guys wandered into her line of vision, and she wondered if one of those good-looking hunks might be her neighbor.

Willow Woods, the condominium complex where she'd moved six months earlier, had all but sold out. She'd speculated it wouldn't take long for the place next to hers to sell. Especially since it was a three-bedroom unit, the most spacious design available. Must be a family moving in. She was definitely cheered by the thought of having neighbors.

The timer went off, and the treadmill ground to a halt. Hallie heaved a sigh of relief and rubbed her sweat-drenched face with the towel. Her cheeks felt red and hot and her short curly hair was matted against her temples. Her old gray sweats—she didn't feel comfortable sweating in her new color-coordinated ones—were loose around the waist. A promising sign. The temptation to run into the bathroom and leap on the scale was strong, but she'd made that mistake too often and vowed she'd only weigh herself once a week. Monday morning, bright and early—that was when she'd do it.

She'd lost five pounds in twenty-one days. The first two had fallen away easily, but the last three had been like chiseling at a concrete block with a tablespoon. She'd starved herself, exercised faithfully. She'd counted fat grams, carbohydrates, calories and chocolate chips to little avail.

Her best friend, Donnalee Cooper, claimed Hallie was putting too much stock in the physical, but Hallie believed otherwise. It was that packaging thing again. The men she knew based their reactions to women—at least their initial reactions—on looks. It didn't matter if the woman had a brain in her head as long as her waist was tiny ..and her other assets weren't. Of course, attracting a man wasn't Hallie's only incentive for becoming physically fit. She didn't exercise nearly enough, had taken to skipping breakfast and was downing fast food on the run. Not a healthy lifestyle. Donnalee seemed unconvinced when Hallie explained this, though, pointing out that she hadn't worried about her health before.

Donnalee was single, although she'd had a brief disastrous marriage in her early twenties. To Hallie's delight, when she'd shared her goal of finding a man and marrying within the next twelve months, Donnalee had decided to join forces with her. She said that she'd never meant to wait this long to remarry, and like Hallie, she wanted children. But Donnalee brought a different strategy to their marriage campaign.

"Just be yourself," she'd advised.

"Being myself hasn't attracted a whole lot of attention so far," Hallie complained. That, at least, shut her friend up. Dating opportunities had dwindled to a trickle in the last few years, but she was determined to improve the situation.

Hallie showered and changed clothes, then phoned her mother who lived across Puget Sound in Bremerton, on the Kitsap Peninsula. Hallie and her father had been close, both in personality and in appearance, but it was from her mother that she'd inherited her artistic talent. Despite her ability, Lucille McCarthy had never worked outside the home. It had always troubled Hallie that a woman so genuinely talented would be content to do little more than keep house. Not until she was an adult living on her own did she recognize her mother's contribution to the family. Over the months since her father's sudden death, Hallie had come to appreciate her mother's quiet strength. At Christmas, she'd encouraged her to take up oil painting, and Lucille had recently begun a class.

The conversation went well, with Lucille cheerfully describing the portrait she'd started to paint of a sleeping Ellen. Afterward, Hallie wrote her weekly grocery list, threw on a jacket and hurried out the door, eager to finish her Saturday-morning chores. It was when she climbed into her car that she saw her new neighbor. At least, she thought he was the one. He was tall and not as brawny as she'd thought at first glance. Solid, she decided. All shoulders, with good upper-body strength. Handsome, too, in an unobtrusive way. In other words, seeing him didn't make her heart beat faster—which was just as well, since he was obviously married with children.

He did have an interesting face, a lived-in face, and seemed the type of person she'd like to know. Not romantically, of course, but maybe as a friend. She turned her attention from him to the two kids at his side. A girl and boy, who were probably about eleven and nine. Great-looking kids. The girl waved, her smile wide and friendly.

Hallie waved back, inserted the key into the ignition and drove off.

The moving van was gone by the time she returned an hour or so later. The two kids were riding their bicycles when she pulled into her driveway.

The girl headed her way, long coltish legs pumping the bicycle pedals.

"Hi," she called. "My dad just moved next door." She stopped abruptly and hopped off the polished chrome bike.

"So I saw," Hallie said, leaning across the front seat and removing her bags of groceries.

"I'm Meagan. That's my brother, Kenny." She nodded toward the younger boy, and as if on cue, Kenny joined his sister.

"You got any kids?" Kenny asked hopefully.

"Sorry, no." She balanced both grocery bags in her arms.

Some of the enthusiasm left the boy's eyes. "Do you know anyone around here who does?"

"Unfortunately, I don't think there are any kids your age on this block." Most of the couples who'd moved into the complex were just starting out. Hallie suspected there'd be any number of children in the neighborhood within a few years, but not now.

"Here," Meagan said, tilting her bike onto the grass. "I can help you carry those in." She took one bag out of Hallie's hands.

"Thanks." Hallie was touched by her thoughtfulness and said so.

The girl beamed at the praise. "Mom says I'm a big help to her now that she and Dad are divorced."

Meagan's expression grew sad when she mentioned the divorce. Hallie's heart immediately went out to her—but she couldn't help musing that her new neighbor was available, after all. It was an automatic reaction, triggered by her newly activated husband-seeking instincts.

Hallie briefly recalled her first impressions of him and decided then and there that she wanted someone with a bit more…finesse. A guy who drove a truck with a license-plate holder advertising his big tools didn't overly impress her. It wasn't only that, either; she'd seen what the movers had carted into his house. Sports equipment. Boxes and boxes of it. There didn't seem to be anything this guy hadn't tried. From mountain climbing to kayaking to scuba diving.

Hallie led the way into the kitchen, where she dumped her sack on the countertop. Meagan carefully put hers beside it. "Thanks again, Meagan."

"Are you married?" the girl asked.

"Not yet." But there were visions of entwined wedding rings dancing around in her head. She had a prospect, too. A man she'd just met yesterday, as a matter of fact.

"Well, gotta go have lunch. See you next weekend," Meagan said, rushing for the front door.

As Hallie started to put the groceries away, she saw that the message light on her answering machine was blinking. Probably her mother again, or her sister, Julie, calling to report on baby Ellen's latest adorable exploit. But what if it was him? Him being the new loans officer at Keystone Bank. Hallie had gone in on Friday afternoon to make her deposits and been introduced to John Franklin.

The minute she'd laid eyes on him she realized he was everything she sought in a husband. Tall, dark and handsome. Friendly, polite and clearly intelligent. He met all the basic criteria, including availability; she'd noticed the absence of a wedding ring. He was close to forty, she estimated, but that didn't disturb her. An eleven-year gap didn't make much difference, not at her age. She'd be thirty in April, three months from now. Surely she'd be engaged by then.

Unfortunately the message wasn't from John. It was from Donnalee, who sounded excited and asked Hallie to phone the minute she walked in the door.

Hallie rang her back. "You called?"

"I've found the answer," Donnalee blurted.

"What's the question?" Hallie grumbled in response; she hadn't had lunch and was never at her best on an empty stomach.

"Where do we meet the men of our dreams?"

"Hmm." Her friend certainly had her attention now.


"The answer's a bit complicated, so stay with me."


"All I ask is that you hear me out. All right?"

Hallie muttered a reply. This dating thing had been much easier in high school and college. Apparently she'd lost the knack. Oh, there'd been a few romances in the years since, most of them what you'd call short-term. One had lasted the better part of six months, until it, too, fizzled out. The fault, Hallie admitted, had been her own. Gregg had complained about her long hours and her total commitment to Artistic License, and she'd told him that wasn't likely to change.

"I found an ad in the Seattle Weekly for a dating service," Donnalee announced.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 434 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 442 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 10, 2011

    I Also Recommend:


    I love reading this book so much! I have read most of Debbie Macomber's books and this is one of my favourites!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2010

    Great book!

    This was a terrific story that is modern day. She dates so many losers, and I crack a rib laughing at all her stories, to finally fall in love with her neighbor/friend. I couldn't put the book down once I started it. It's definately worth the read!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2011

    Good Book but not my style

    The characters were well developed. However they seemded to spend too much of the book not knowing their true feelings for each other. Hallie was main character but one gets to see more of the happpiness of the best freinds. I would rather have had more details of how things went for Hallie than the best friends. When Hallie gets together with Steve the book ends. I like Jayne Krentz romance style more. I lkie to see more of the happily ever after detailed

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2011

    good reading, try it

    It was very entertaining and funny in spots. I looked forward to picking it up everyday.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2010

    Very quick easy read

    I had so much fun losing myself in the characters of this book. It was very had to put down. I found myself sneaking peeks at the pages on my phone throughout the day, because I kept thinking about what's happening with Hallie! WONDERFUL BOOK!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2010

    An Entertaining Read

    This book is enjoyable to read. The characters were believable and entertaining. The plot was a little predictable but, nonetheless, the story was one I wanted to keep on reading. I would recommend this book for others to read. If you like a romantic tale with some humor added in... you will like this one.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2008

    Fun book!

    I enjoyed this book so much! I have read most of Debbie Macombers book and this is now one of my favorites! Great characters. Cute story!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2006


    I love all of Debbie Macomber's books, and this one was one of my favorites. Her writing is so descriptive that you feel like you understand how the characters are feeling at that time in their life. I hope that she writes another book along this storyline of a young woman approaching 30, like me.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Loved it!

    I really liked this story. I was sad when it ended. A great read!!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2011

    Sweet and funny, enjoyable read.

    I really enjoyed the characters and could not put my nook down until I completed this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2011

    Loved it

    Not my usual read---LOVED IT!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2014


    Wonderful summer, fall, winter or spring read! Just great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Great Read

    Loved this book from beginning to end. Didn't want to put it down. Love everything Debbie Macomber writes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2013


    I read this some years ago and I remembered it when I found it on the nook, so bought it again. Loved it couldn't put it down. Lots of fun just reading how Hallie and Steve discovered their love for each other in This Matter of Marriage. Read it you will not put it down.

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  • Posted February 25, 2012

    Highly recommened!

    Debbie is a writer with the "Christian moral code" in her mind. She can sell more books without being secular as some writers that I read.

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  • Posted February 16, 2012

    Great read

    Love all things Debbie!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    one of her best!

    This is a fun read about really trying to find the right guy. The heroine kisses a few toads on the way, and we know early on who the prince is. But it's the journey that's funny and frustrating life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Two short entertaining reads....

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  • Posted February 3, 2012

    High Recommendation

    I had not read anything by Debbie Macomber before, but definately will in the future.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    Highly Recommended.

    Love Debbie Macomber and this book was no exception. She has never disappointed me with her books. They are always filled with life lessons and love. Great read!

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