Sunday, June 30, 2019

Book Review: 'Heart Land' by Kimberly Stuart

Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart

Where is home?

Iowa author Kimberly Stuart is well known in the Midwest as a fine story teller, having published eight popular novels to date – OPERATION BONNET, STRETCH MARKS, BETTER TOGETHER, ACT TWO, BOTTOM LINE and BALANCING ACT (the Heidi Elliott Series), SUGAR and HEART LAND. Her zest for living and her excellent presentation of the women’s viewpoint have made her a favorite, and now she expands her audience with a new PR firm – and we are the wining recipients. Kimberly lives in Des Moines.

One of the several reasons Kimberly is growing in popularity is her ability to mirror the aspects of a female main character stepping into a leading position usually occupied by men – and it works very well indeed. In this book the lead character is Grace Klaren, a fashion designer, who is abruptly and unexpectedly fired and is forced to move back home to Silver Creek, Iowa. The personality of Grace is set in the opening paragraphs: ‘No one had said anything about farm animals. Three minutes to midnight in a cavernous Manhattan loft, dark except for the lights we’d brought in for the photo shoot, and my view was entirely taken up by three leggy models holding sheep. Sheep. As in woolly coats and blank expressions and a reputation for being daft. There were three small ones, lambs, if we were being technical, and each of the models clutched her own. I wasn’t sure who looked more terrified, the animals or the women. One of the lambs bleated loudly, and Akeyo, the model on the far left, startled, causing the photographer to bark for neutral faces. I shifted in my boots, a glorious pair made of the softest charcoal suede. They were a complete indulgence, a splurge from a month prior when I was finally allowing myself to believe I could soon be vacating my position as a design assistant at Milano, one of the premier fashion houses in New York, and heading at last into the designer role that had my name on it. The final edict would come down tomorrow, and in a moment of pre-promotion hopefulness, I’d tugged on my new boots in the early morning hours. Turns out, I’d been suiting up for an interminable workday. And turns out, these boots with the three-inch heel, so perfect at nine a.m., eleven a.m., even three p.m., were spawn of Satan every minute after eight. I checked the clock on my phone again and bit my lower lip to stifle the groan. We had hit the nine-hour mark into the Photo Shoot of Doom. Taking a deep breath in, I let it out slowly, reminding myself again that tonight would mark the end of long days without purpose and that tomorrow held the promise of something entirely different.’ And it is this warm combination of concept embraced with humor that flows on every page of this book.

Back home, Grace ‘accidentally’ encounters Tucker, her high school sweetheart, and despite her dreams of returning to sophisticated New York, made monetarily conceivable by her discovery of a vintage dress and her ‘improvements’ to make a fine sale, her reignited feelings for Tucker create a push pull stance… One part female fashion designer, one part romance, one part conflicts, and add high and subtle humor to the top. That is one way to describe this warmly convincing adventure into the land of competition and hilarity and love in the realm of heart land– from New York to Iowa. Kimberly Stuart is a polished and skillful artist whose style is contagious! Recommended. 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

Order it on Amazon today.
Two kings. Two princes. One queen. The true story of five aristocrats separated by time, culture, and circumstance -- all of them bound to the United States by accidents of history and left to hope for a tomorrow better than today. Prepare for a vision of the American Dream as few others have ever seen it.