Maddy Potter is desperate. Even though little seven year-old Katie isn't really her niece, she's been taking care of her long enough to know that she loves her like a daughter. The desperation comes from the fear of losing Katie-the Pepper Cloud Women's Society doesn't think that Maddy's unconventional home s best for Katie and they've set out to stop Maddy from adopting her. With no other options in sight, Maddy devises a plan-she'll pretend to fall in love and get engaged to a nice, respectable man. While there will never be a wedding, the charade will be enough to convince the townspeople of her intentions and Katie's future with her "family" will be secure. Her good friend Judith arranges for her brother to become the intended groom in the scheme and that's just fine with Maddy. All that matters is Katie and she'll do what she has to keep her, whatever it takes..
Clay Kincaid arrives in the town of Pepper Cloud ready to do his part in Maddy's scheme. He doesn't know the basics of the plan so it's up to the Widow Potter to fill in the blanks. When his sister Judith and his family contacted him they said that their family owed Mrs. Potter a debt and he was to make good on the debt for the family by helping Maddy with her scheme. Expecting that the "widow" will be an older woman, Clay is surprised by the younger beauty he encounters. Clay is slightly worried that this may end up being another one of his mother's matchmaking plans. Even though he suspects a trap of sorts, Clay will follow through with the beginning and ending of the pretend engagement and maybe stop by his family's place on the way home for a visit. But things aren't so easy in Pepper Cloud-Clay begins to wonder if Maddy's home is the best place for young Katie, especially with the eccentric women she lives with saying such unconventional things. Things get even more confusing when Clay and Maddy get closer and closer day after day. Clay begins to realize that leaving this small town and the engaging Maddy behind isn't quite as easy as he had thought. And suddenly he isn't sure he wants their fake engagement to end!
WHATEVER IT TAKES by Winnie Griggs is a sweet, romantic story with humorous, enigmatic characters. I loved Maddy's unconventional family. The three older women who live with her are funny and engaging and I really felt that they added a lot to the story. Ms. Griggs did a terrific job with developing all of her characters! I could completely understand Maddy's motives in developing such an unusual plan. You could tell that Katie meant a lot to her and to her three housemates and her love and compassion for others made her a very likeable character. I also appreciated Clay and the fact that he decides to keep an eye on things to be sure that he isn't helping Katie to stay in an unfit home. It would not have been believable if he hadn't cared about a young girl's welfare so I was glad to see that he had a small level of mistrust in the beginning. But as he comes to know Maddy better and sees the love she has for Katie, he begins to trust both Maddy and her motives. As the story progresses, so does both Maddy and Clay's feelings for one another and it's great to see how their relationship grows and changes throughout the story.
WHATEVER IT TAKES is a great story filled with realistic, likeable characters, humorous moments and sweet, poignant romance. If you are looking for an enjoyable, well-written romantic story, look no further than Winnie Griggs' latest offering. Ms. Griggs knows how to create an entertaining story that readers will love and WHATEVER IT TAKES is the perfect story to curl up with, any day of the week.
Carla Hosom, November 2002
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