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Sweet Hush    by Deborah Smith order for
Sweet Hush
by Deborah Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Apples have been the lifeblood of Hush McGillen's Georgia family for generations -- indeed her ancestors developed the famed Sweet Hush apple. There's even a well-known legend that the bones of Union soldiers buried in the orchards nurture the apple trees. But by the time Hush is born in the early 60's, the once famous orchards have fallen on hard times. When Hush's beloved father dies, twelve year old Hush knows it's up to her to reverse her family's fortunes. She begins selling apples along the roadside where the 'rich Atlanta people' are known to pass by in their big fancy cars. Soon she's charming customers and selling apples by the bushel basket.

One week before her sixteenth birthday Hush's mother dies, leaving her alone to raise baby brother Logan. Determined not to allow the courts to take either the farm or her brother away from her, Hush faces a judge armed with what she knows is a full proof business plan. She wins her case, and within the year finds herself pregnant with sweetheart Davy Thackery's child. Young Davy's addicted to race cars and women. Hush knows it would be a huge mistake to marry him, but Davy convinces her that he'll be a good husband and father, and that he will work hard to help her keep the farm.

Over the next two decades Hush and her family build Sweet Hush Farms into a multi-million dollar industry that puts their town back on the map. Davy has died in a car crash and her beloved son, Davis, is in college. Life is good -- until the day Davis comes roaring through the front gates in his souped-up TransAm with a caravan of black SUV's in hot pursuit. Hush is shocked when her son announces he's been secretly married to the president's daughter, Eddie Jacobs, for the last year. Tired of being under surveillance 24/7 Davis has brought his pregnant bride home to the hollow, and to the nurturing arms of his mother, whom he's always considered perfect.

Hush is horrified to find her peaceful life suddenly in the glaring spotlight. It doesn't take long for the secret service to move in and for newspapers across the country to begin looking for any whiff of scandal. The president sends his trusted nephew, retired Colonel Nick Jakobek, to Sweet Hush Farms to take the situation in hand, and talk some sense into his adored only child. But Nick immediately realises that Eddie is right where she should be and that no one, not even the Commander in Chief nor his iron-willed wife, Edwina, is going to force Hush McGillen into doing anything she doesn't want to do. He also realises that Hush McGillen Thackery is the woman he's been searching for all his life.

Deborah Smith delivers another lyrical and poignant story of a tough and passionate woman who values family above all else and who'll do anything to protect what's hers, even if she has to go up against the most powerful couple in the world. Sweet Hush is packed with engaging and unforgettable characters, most especially Hush and Edwina Jacobs -- two tougher lionesses you won't meet, and some of their exchanges are priceless. Best of all is the marvellous love story that develops between Hush and Nick Jakobek, a dark and hardened man of few words who finally finds peace in the hollow, and in Hush McGillen's arms. If there's one book you must read this year it's Deborah Smith's Sweet Hush.

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