Ann B. Ross, Author . Viking $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-670-03105-4

The inimitable Miss Julia pushes an indecisive couple toward matrimony in this Southern comedy-of-manners series' latest installment, which begins with the protagonist frustrated at the inability of her friend, Miss Hazel, to get her beau to propose. But another opportunity surfaces when Sheriff Coleman Bates proposes to his lawyer girlfriend, Binkie Enloe. Miss Julia immediately plows into the wedding plans, which get derailed when a major fight causes Binkie to back out. After some clever detective work, Miss Julia discovers that the real reason for Binkie's hesitation is her pregnancy, which leaves her indecisive right up to the wedding day. Coleman's frustrations pale compared to the frenzied anguish plaguing Miss Julia as she tries to keep the wedding alive, until Binkie finally changes her mind. The couple still has to get past a series of calamities that include a no-show pastor, Binkie's bout with morning sickness and the sudden appearance of a "miraculous" religious image on the wall of the church construction site, bringing a TV crew and a throng of miracle seekers. Ross gets a bit carried away with wedding details, but her cheeky style works flawlessly once Miss Julia digs into the romantic intrigue and begins to ply her unique combination of common sense and old-fashioned, smalltown wisdom. The book should please followers of this series and perhaps draw new ones who enjoy throwback romantic comedies and don't mind wading through some silliness to get to the happy ending. National advertising; 12-city author tour. (May)

Forecast: Miss Julia Takes Over made the bestseller lists last year, so the momentum should still be strong, especially in the Southeast.

Reviewed on: 04/08/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
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