William Morrow, February 2004
Fifteen years ago, Sugar Beth Carey had left Parrish Mississippi, leaving behind shattered lives, broken dreams, and lost lust. She had been the most popular, the most powerful, the most beautiful. And the people who had been her victims, or her friends, had never forgiven her betrayal. When Sugar Beth comes back, the knives are out. The wicked stepsister is back and Cinderella, the ex-teacher whose career Sugar Beth had destroyed with her lies, and everyone else is set to make sure she never gets a chance to make up.
Sugar Beth wants only one thing--to find the famous painting her aunt left to her and to get out of Parrish again, this time for good. Admittedly her ex-teacher, Collin Byrne, looks even sexier than he did when she was a high school girl, but Sugar Beth has learned the lessons of lust and love. After three marriages, she doesn't need any more of those lessons. What she needs is enough money to get her step-daughter situated. The painting would provide that, but nobody knows where it might be hidden. And nobody in Parrish is willing to hire Sugar Beth, or even give her a chance to explain. Nobody, that is, except Collin. And Collin's job sounds more like torture than it does a career. Being housekeeper in the mansion where she grew up--now owned by Collin--is bad enough. But being servant to her former friends and enemies?
Author Susan Elizabeth Phillips creates a powerfully emotional story of revenge, old grudges, southern literature, and people trying to come to terms with their mistakes and the consequences of their decisions. Both Sugar Beth and her half-sister Winnie were permanently transformed by their rivalry, and both make intriguing characters as they struggle to empower themselves in ways less destructive than those they chose as teenagers. Collin's transformation from anger to respect is convincing and entertaining.
In AIN'T SHE SWEET, Phillips dares to step outside the romance cliches writing a heroine who is far from perfect, afraid of love for valid and human reasons, and even of a heroine who truly loved her (last) ex-husband. But Phillips pulls it off, writing a compelling and completely enjoyable story. Romance fans will want to get their hands on this one, it's a winner.
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