When Linda Bruckheimer was 15, her father, the owner of a failing construction company, uprooted the family from rural Kentucky and headed to California. "We were one step ahead of the bill collectors," says Bruckheimer, 58, "with one fist curled around the American dream and the other clutching $200." Today the bestselling novelist and wife of the blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean) doesn't fret over the bills (though they now come from Prada and Chanel) but has never forgotten her roots. Her new novel, The Southern Belles of Honeysuckle Way (a follow-up to 1999's Dreaming Southern), is a tale of L.A. sisters fighting developers in their Kentucky hometown. The story mirrors her decision to buy 1,200 acres of land near Louisville, as well as the entire main street of tiny Bloomsfield, Ky, to protect the area from sprawl. Her Hollywood husband wasn't thrilled initially with the purchase. ("Over my dead body," is how she recalls it.) But he admires her tenacity as a preservationist and writer. "Linda is a creative force," says Jerry, 60. "She puts everything into it." His wife sees it this way: "Southern belles may appear sweet, but we've got the iron will of Special Ops guys."
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