Book Review of Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith
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Steel's usual verve is all but absent from her 52nd novel, a hasty Cinderella story that begins when heroine Marie-Ange Hawkins goes from an idyllic French childhood to a loveless upbringing in Iowa after her parents and brother are killed in a terrible accident. Only 11, she's sent off to be raised by her sole relative, cold and callous great-aunt Carole. The only bright spot in her life is her intimate friendship with Billy Parker, a solid American farmboy who loves and respects her from the time they are children; she loves him, too, but thinks of him as a brother. When Marie-Ange turns 18 and wins a scholarship to go to college, her aunt does not help, but Billy buys her a car and she is able to attend. Then a stranger turns up and informs her that she is in fact a very rich woman; her aunt sells the farm, and Marie-Ange decides to return to France. There she meets the current owner of her old home, 40-year-old widower Comte de Beauchamp charming, handsome and so very polite