I recently moved to the South and since I was in need of some light reading I decided a romance with some southern flair would help with the transition. I found a discussion group that mentioned Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and it had a lot of really good reviews so I hopped onto Amazon to purchase the whole book. I have regrets…
Overall the book is…okay? I just didn’t much like the main characters. Sugar Beth Carey was the princess of the town of Parrish when she was young – beautiful, rich, and spoiled by her doting mother, Diddie. She made life hell for the people she didn’t like, including a classmate named Winnie and her English teacher, Colin Byrne, who was fired from his position after Sugar Beth’s false accusations of sexual assault. Time passed and Sugar Beth left town to marry (several times) and finally she is returning home, single and broke. She is desperate to find a valuable painting that may or may not exist in the home that her Aunt Tallulah bequeathed to her. Meanwhile nearly all of Parrish is foaming at the bit to exact some sort of vengeance on her, including the ex-teacher who is now a famous author living in the home Sugar Beth grew up in.
Colin is tall, dark, brooding, sarcastic, intelligent, strong, blah, blah, blah. He is also a little rape-y? Definitely controlling, which is not swoonworthy for me. Part of it is that humiliating Sugar Beth is part of her comeuppance and she gets to stand up to him but still, it’s not a very attractive look where I’m concerned. They were two pigheaded twits who lusted for each other but I was never actually convinced they were going to be good for one another in the long run.
I did like that the book made clear that Sugar Beth was very much in love with her last husband, despite their age difference. He was old and rich but she fell for him before she knew about his wealth and described him as being fit and looking about 15 years younger than his actual age (70ish to her 30ish). I also liked Delilah and understood how she and her father had been a humanizing influence on SugarBeth.
Ending spoilers to follow:
There are a couple times where Colin reaches for a condom only to have Sugar Beth tell him it isn’t necessary. I initially assumed that this meant the fairy godmother that granted her wealth and beauty also threw in immunity to sperm and STDs as a bonus but no, we eventually learn that an ectopic pregnancy has left Sugar Beth unable to conceive and apparently neither Sugar Beth nor Colin have any regard for public health concerns. And after a full book of non-protected banging at the very end OF COURSE we get a surprise medically-improbable baby out of absolutely nowhere because it is impossible for a HEA to happen without spawn. Seriously, folks. Is it that hard to accept that there are people in the world who can be happy without children? Or acknowledge that there are people who may desperately want children but not be able to have them? Can we maybe just once have a HEA that involves an epilogue where the couple have grown old together and not reproduced? Or have happily acquired a family that involved adopting or fostering rather than squirting a magical crotchfruit through a vagina? And this baby is so magical that Winnie gives her Diddie’s pearls as a christening gift instead of giving them to Sugar Beth – Sugar Beth, who has nothing tangible left of the mother she loved so much and who spent the whole book anguishing over the necklace. I wanted to throw the book across the room at this point except I had made the mistake of reading it as a kindle book on my iPad and those things are too pricey to hurl.
Anyway, this book wasn’t the worst thing I have ever read but it’s my least favorite book of the year. Based on the Amazon ratings I am in the minority but I read this thing a while ago and I’m still cranky about it.