Donnette and Tim have been sweethearts since childhood, but some folks in Zion County, Ala., don't think she's good enough for him. When a tragic accident ends Tim's chance for football greatness-and nixes the athletic scholarship he needed to go to college-Donnette snatches him up; they marry and buy her aunt's beauty salon. Donnette's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and snooty Taylor Dupree, the black sheep of the town's powerful Clark family, is highly critical of her. Taylor was Tim's best friend until the accident (which was Taylor's fault), and it's their friendship-which few in Clarksville understand or condone-that lies at the heart of this talky, folksy novel. Back from college, Taylor wants to make things right by Tim, and when Tim paints a beautiful sign for Donnette's salon, Taylor sets his sights on getting Tim an art scholarship. Scheming Ellis Clark, a poor rural girl now married to Taylor's cousin and giddy with Clark family power, tries to make Taylor's road to redemption a rocky one, though. Told in six chapters, narrated by four different characters, the novel offers a shifting moral landscape complemented by a sharp vision of Southern culture and life. This is the first novel King wrote, originally published by Black Belt Press and rereleased after the success of her second, The Sunday Wife. Her debut has a certain vernacular appeal, but most readers may find it too full of smalltown melodrama. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.