How many times have we read stories about the most popular girl in school, the one who was head cheerleader, dated the hottest guys, and made everybody’s life miserable, getting what she deserves? Usually, this sweet revenge is served by the ugly duckling-turned-swan, who was the chief victim of said popular princess’s reign of terror. Yet do we ever get to read about the other side of the story? Do we ever get to see the whys and hows of little miss popular’s rise and fall?
Well, Ms. Phillips has decided to do just that. This is no ugly duckling story. Ain’t She Sweet is a tale from the other side. Meet Sugar Beth Carey, Parrish Mississippi’s reigning Southern Belle, or, at least, that’s what she used to be. As a teen she ruled all she surveyed, as the daughter of the town’s main business owner, sitting in her castle like home – Frenchman’s Bride, dating the most popular boy in school, and ruling the cool girls – the Sea Willows with an iron fist. Well, she also made everybody else’s life a living hell, with special care and attention given to Winnie Davis; plump, glasses-wearing, fashion disaster Winnie Davis. Oh, and lets not forget Colin Byrne, the young English teacher she couldn’t wrap around her little finger, so, she got him fired. I know, I know, I couldn’t believe I would want to read it either. Being the occasional target for girls like Sugar Beth myself, I thought: wait, she’s the heroine? Yes, she is, and you know what? This is one of my favorite contemporary romances out there.
Sugar Beth’s life has gone pretty much down hill since her sparkling days as belle of the ball. Three marriages, two of which ended badly, a third marriage to a man three times her age, no job, no money, no prospects….Seems like little miss perfect got what she deserved, right? Well, things just keep getting better. An aunt leaves Sugar Beth a valuable painting in her will, but no one even knows if this painting exists, and Sugar Beth needs it. She needs it badly. So much so, that she is willing to go back to the one place she thought she would never have to face again. Parrish Mississippi.
Things have changed in Parrish, Winnie Davis has taken over as Parrish’s leading lady, she’s married to Sugar Beth’s old sweetheart, Ryan Galantine who owns and runs Sugar Beth’s father’s old business. Her old friends the sea willows are all grown up and Winnie’s best friends. Then there is Colin, the teacher who got fired because of Sugar Beth’s antics. He’s returned to Parrish as a famous author, who now lives in Sugar Beth’s old house. They know Sugar Beth is coming home, and they all want vengeance.
So, how is this a romance? Well, Sugar Beth is so much more than meets the eye, and it isn’t surprising that someone starts noticing this… not that he wants to, but Colin can’t help it! He agrees to allow Sugar Beth to work as his housekeeper, hoping to enjoy watching her at his beck and call in what used to be her home, but instead – Sugar Beth just won’t bend! She doesn’t cry, get mad, or give up, in fact – she takes everything he throws at her with a smile and a sarcastic response. Her behavior causes him to question everything he knows about Sugar Beth, and what he doesn’t know, he wants to find out.
Then there are Parrish’s other residents. We soon find out more about the enmity between Sugar Beth and Winnie, and realize that while Sugar Beth was very much in the wrong, in the way she treated Winnie, the circumstances could not have been easy. Winnie finds Sugar Beth’s return a perfect opportunity to take revenge, but finds that it just isn’t sweet. In reality, Sugar Beth’s return rocks Winnie’s fragile world and forces her to face some hard facts about her own life.
I love that Ms. Phillips doesn’t have any “evil” characters or any “good” characters. Each of these characters has their ups and downs, faults, flaws, warts and all. This gives the story so much depth and makes it an even more enjoyable read. Sugar Beth is a wonderful character, I really felt my self wanting to give her a hug, and wanting to slap her – sometimes in the same sentence, but she really shines out as an interesting heroine. Her endless snark (I love snarky heroines) and sarcastic rejoinders hide a very hurt young woman, one who keeps trying to hide her heart, and for good reason! She and Colin make a hilarious couple, and will have you laughing non-stop throughout this book.
Sugar Beth doesn’t seek redemption, and in some way, I admire her for that. She doesn’t try to ignore what she was, and she does apologize, but she doesn’t seek out forgiveness. I think she knows that she won’t be getting it. Yet this is a tale of redemption on some level, and not only for Sugar Beth. Every person that ever came into contact with Sugar Beth gets to re-examine the past, and the present. Ms. Phillips does have a way of slightly over “Happily Ever After”-ing the endings to her books, but really, with such a wonderful story, I didn’t mind in the least. Sugar Beth and Colin deserved it. I also have to mention how much I enjoyed seeing Ms. Phillips include quotes from another favorite author – she includes quotes from Georgette Heyer’s romances at the beginning of every chapter. Gotta love that.
This book is a definite keeper, and is one of the most read on my keeper shelf.
This book was purchased by Noa.
Visit Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Website Here
Sugar Beth Carey’s come back to Parrish, Mississippi, and she’s brought her reputation for wreaking havoc with her. She’s broke, desperate, and too proud to show it, even with her old enemies lining up for a chance to get even. Her former girlfriends have their eyebrow pencils sharpened into lethal points. Winnie Davis, her longtime rival, is fully armed with the money, power, and prestige that had once been Sugar Beth’s. But worst of all is Colin Byrne, the man whose career Sugar Beth had destroyed — and not exactly accidentally.
Now Colin’s a famous novelist living in Sugar Beth’s old mansion, and this modern day dark prince is using his writer’s imagination to figure out how to bring the town’s beautiful former princess to her knees. But despite her sassy mouth, feisty spirit, and hardheaded ways, Sugar Beth’s no longer the spoiled rich girl they all remember. No, now she’s a woman to be reckoned with … and a great big reckonin’ is about to happen, not least of all for one dark prince who might — just might — be thinking about falling in love with the wickedest girl in town.
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