Stephanie Mittmanís Head Over Heels is the story of Nan Springfield and Harry Woolery. In the first few pages of the book we met Nan and her husband Phil whoís the minister of a local church. The two of them have a child of the own and have taken in three foster kids who Nan loves as much as she loves her own child. On the surface they seem to be living the perfect life, but underneath the veneer, Nan and Phil are falling apart. Itís been months since theyíve shared their bed and even longer since heís actually talked to her as a person and not a hired hand who is there to serve him and the children. And after all this time, sheís had enough. Sheís determined to ask for a divorce.
She and her husband sit down to talk and as soon as she announces that she wants a divorce they are interrupted by a phone call informing them that Phil is the topic of conversation on a local radio show hosted by ďshock jockĒ Harris Tweed. Tweed uses his radio show to announce to the world that Phil Springfield has been embezzling money from his church. How does he know this? The nephew of a co-worker was promised a scholarship from the church but the money never materialized. And if itís not going to the scholarship fund, where is all the money going?
Upset by the accusations and also by Nanís desire for a divorce Phil leaves the house to confront Harris Tweed, only to die in an auto accident before he makes it to the radio station.
In an instant Nan goes from unhappy wife to stigmatized widow. The cloud of suspicion that hangs over the entire family overshadows all of the sympathy and support she should have received as being left with no husband. Was her husband really embezzling money? She likes to think that he didnít, but she feels honor bound to donate most of the money from his insurance policy to the church to make up for the money thatís missing. This leaves her destitute. She is surely going to be kicked out of her home since it belongs to the church and if that happens, her foster children will be taken away from her as well. Her life canít get any worse.
Harry Woolery, AKA Harris Tweed canít get past the guilt that itís all his fault that Nan Springfield is in this terrible situation. He always says outrageous and controversial things on his radio show but never expected that one day someone would take them seriously and that there would be consequences to his actions. To atone for his guilt, Harry sends Nan money and gifts in order to help her out, but she refuses all of his charity. Desperate to make up for things, Harry masquerades as Santa and arrives at the Springfield home on Christmas morning and presents the children with gifts. Nan, who has never seen him before, takes him for a kindly stranger and the two of them quickly form a bond that seems to go beyond friendship. But what will happen when Nan finds out who Harry really is? Can she forgive him for causing the death of her husband?
Head Over Heels is a wonderful story that is both sweet and suspenseful. Mittman keeps you guessing until the very end of the book about whether or not Phil was actually embezzling money from the church and where exactly the churchís missing money went. Since itís a romance novel you know that Nan will forgive Harry and they will have a happy ending, but the issue of her husbands past and his death are much more ambiguous and remain engrossing to the end of the book.
The book also remains full of tension due to the feelings that Harry and Nan have for each other, but also the doubt that they both have about the death and their part in it. They both blame themselves to the point of not allowing themselves to move on together. They become their own worst enemies as Harry tries to keep the truth about his identity from Nan and Nan tries to reconcile herself with the fact that she not only asked for a divorce, but that she never got to make her peace with her husband before he died.
I highly recommend Head Over Heels for both itís sweet romantic aspects and itís subtle but gripping mystery. It will satisfy people who like either and will delight everyone who reads it.
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