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Ellen Webster feels like the poster child for the adage about nice people finishing last.  In a single day, she loses a parking space, her place in line at the store, and a promotion, plus she finds out that the woman she trained at work makes more money and her friend is interested in the guy Ellen wants to date.  Spotting a booklet titled ”Have It Your Way, Getting What You Want”, she decides she’s had enough.  She’s going to start standing up for herself.

By the Book is a lovely little story.  As with McComas’s story Ms. Miller and the Midas Man, it was written in the mid-90s but it doesn’t really affect the book.  Ellen has to learn what is important to her and the kind of person she wants to be.  She’s sweet, caring, and giving, but she feels like she gets taken advantage of.  She’s also tired of never getting the guy.  All the women at the bank have noticed the mysterious stranger who is running the store across the street.  Can she turn her new attitude into a date with the hunky new guy?  Although readers will realize where the book will lead them, Ellen’s journey is quite enjoyable.

Jonah Blake has his own issues.  His father left him alone at military school while he traveled the world as a photographer.  Now, years later and after no contact with his father, Jonah is in town running his father’s camera shop while he is in the hospital following a stroke.  Jonah has long-held bitterness and anger directed at his father for his abandonment.  He finds himself attracted to Ellen and her generosity, but has not found an opportunity to meet her.  He finally gets his chance and her very big heart works its magic on him.

By the Book brings readers an endearing tale of a woman who just needs to realize that being a good person doesn’t mean that she can’t also be happy.

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