Playing by Heart by Ann Mateer

 An engaging and charming novel. I love the premise: Local girl coaches a basketball team, and teaches music. She is also a award winning math scholar. She thinks she wants one thing, but finds out she's quite happy with another thing.

How often we have goals and motivations that seem to be our own devise, but actually turn out to be thrust gently upon us by someone else. Sometimes we find out before it's too late, and other times we never find out until we wonder why we're not happy with our goal met. That has happened to me before. I've worked hard to get to a certain place, and when God yanked the rug out from under me, I found out that I would never have been happy on that particular rug.

This story is extremely well written. The time is after the turn of the century, and everything is on target. There's no modern day jargon, nothing out of sync with 1910 or so. There is such smooth transitions from one point of view to another you don't realize the view has switched. There's not stop start jerk at all. Story flow is very good, you have the calm deep waters and the white water excitement. The pages almost turn themselves. You will probably find yourself thinking of the storyline if you can tear yourself away from it long enough to do something mundane like go to work (or school). The plot is a bit predictable, but then what romance isn't?

The character development is extraordinary. I would have liked for the music teaching aspect to have been developed a bit more, but all in all there were no disappointments. The character descriptions were in the proper place so you weren't jerked out of the story because you had pictured one character one way only to find out half way through the story that character didn't look that way at all. (Something that happens far more often than it should!) Lula slowly comes to realize her goals may have been a bit skewed. Chet slowly understands why Lula is so fascinating (and it is not because she seems aloof to him.) The love develops with plenty of reasons for them to fall in love. Perfect!

ABOUT THE BOOK: When Chet, a local coach, agrees to help Lula with her new teaching responsibilities, she'll learn more than she ever expected about life and love

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