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The Sweetheart Deal    by Polly Dugan order for
Sweetheart Deal
by Polly Dugan
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In The Sweetheart Deal, we meet veteran firefighter Leo, his beloved wife wife Audrey, their three teen sons (Christopher, Andrew and Brian) and Leo's best friend Garrett, who is like a brother to him. Their story is told from the alternating points of view - of all six of them.

Leo begins by sharing the fact that he knows 'Garrett never thought I was serious when I told him, If I die, I need you to marry Audrey.' Leo asks him when they are together at Y2K in Leo and Audrey's Portland home. In fact, drunk and sentimental, he insists on Garrett's signing an agreement to that effect. Garrett, who's always with a different woman, signs to get his buddy off his back. Audrey knows nothing of all this.

Years later, Leo dies on Mount Hood in a freak skiing accident. Of course, Garrett immediately flies out to be with the family and decides he will stay to finish the renovation (an addition) that Leo had started. He has no intention of getting romantically involved with Audrey, even though he carries the signed contract with him. Garrett helps Audrey deal with everything, especially with her sons' differing reactions to the loss of their father.

Of course you can see where this is going right from the beginning - they do fall hard for each other, but the relationship is put at risk by both the secret Garrett is keeping and the boys' reactions. And, even though we know that all will inevitably end well, the journey there is what matters. Polly Dugan does a fine job of guiding readers along the way, making her very real characters' feelings very real also. An engrossing read!

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