October 22, 2008

Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Sugar Beth Carey, the prodigal daughter of Parrish, Mississippi has returned even though she swore she never would. Fifteen years ago she had dumped her boyfriend Ryan, her best friends, she had tormented Winnie Davies - who happened to be her half sister, the one her father actually loved - and had driven Colin Byrne out of town with a spiteful lie.

Back then Sugar Beth had been the most beautiful, the most dazzling and powerful girl in town, arguably, she was also the cruelest; but after three marriages (two of which were total failures, and a last one that had been actually good until her husband had died on her), losing all of her money and at times herself, she has come back to her hometown with one purpose in mind: To find a mythical painting a famous artist once gave her aunt - and which her aunt had willed to her without actually saying where it was or if it really existed.

The thing is, no one wants her around, still, she needs that painting and the money it would bring, so she sticks it out, which brings her into collision course with Colin Byrne a Brit who had come to Parrish once as a 22 year old high school teacher and whom she had driven out of town shortly after in a web of lies and deceit she had concocted to cover herself and her mistakes. Now, Colin is 37, rich and successful having fulfilled his dream of becoming a writer, he even owns Sugar Beth's former castle, a house simply known as Frenchaman's Bride, and he's wants revenge.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has does remarkably with this book, Sugar Beth is not a perfect heroine, she's sarcastic and once upon a time she had been right down mean, but by the time the story starts she has changed after learning her lessons the hard way; making that transformation believable while keeping Sugar Beth true to character is something at which I am in awe. I liked Sugar Beth right from the start, and I rooted for her always, even as I learn that spiteful things she had done.

Colin is not an easy hero to write, he's haughty and uses funny words and has a great potential to be a pompus ass, yet, he winds up being more sexy than anything else. Smart and kind, a true prince charming int he most romantic of ways.

The supportive cast of character is just as good, Winnie and Ryan, their daughter Gigi, the town's people; they all nicely frame this story of redemptions - I'm saying it plural 'cause it's not only Sugar Beth who has made or makes mistakes, but I'm leaving it at that.

Like I said, it is a wonderful book.

starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

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