I’ll tell you a secret – Molly Harper always makes me laugh! From pointed snark to out-there situations and pithy commentary, her stories have moments that relate to the real world no matter how outrageous the situations. Today the first in her Southern Eclectic series is available to enjoy. Please read on for my review of
Sweet Tea and Sympathy
If I had to describe this story (and the fun) for fans of Molly Harper – it would be exactly the story you’d expect Jane Jameson to tell (with some input from Andrea on the wardrobe advisory end). Those who don’t know Jane and Andrea – bear with me – if you like ‘fish out of water’ stories set in a small southern town full of characters, drama manufactured and not and a touch of romantic spark – this may be just what you want. Focusing on Margot – a high end event planner in Chicago, until an event went pear shaped when flamingoes provided for ‘color and atmosphere’ went rogue all over a shrimp tower that was not on the brief. Now jobless, near homeless and embarrassed, Margot has to find a way to survive the professional humiliation until she can find another event planning company willing to take her on. Hoping against hope that her last big event wouldn’t be her last splashy event in a big city, hopes are soon dashed when social media turns her moment into a meme. At the point of no return, she is contacted by Tootie, a woman claiming to be an aunt, offering her a job, housing and the chance to get to know her family – family she didn’t remember as her mother spirited her from the small Georgia town when she was little. With no options and the attitude that a temporary job will be better than nothing as she waits for the fallout from her last event to die down, she flies to Lake Sackett Georgia, ready to take her place at the family business: the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop.
Margot’s arrival in Georgia can be expressed in 3 words: overwhelming culture shock. From the remote location to the masses of heretofore unknown relations, the noise, humidity and EVERYONE referring to her as “Stan’s Girl”, she’s uncertain and unsure – far from her competent and in charge persona in her professional capacity. Then, she finds herself inundated with Aunt Tootie’s dogs, cousins, everything fried, coffee that would remove paint and a closetful of inappropriate shoes (heels) and designer suits. Completely out of her element, she’s determined to bide her time and send out resumes, hoping to find another event planning position in an area with more than one grocery store, a mall and the relative anonymity she’s used to. With plenty of new experiences and stories that often contradict her mother’s version of her father, his family and her future had they stayed in Georgia, Margot is continually fighting what she thinks she knows with what she sees. When her cousin pushes her to step in and take charge of the annual Founder’s Day festival – the town’s one chance to shore up the flagging economy and bring more tourists back to town – Margot starts to feel a bit more comfortable, until Stella. Those familiar with Harper’s Half Moon Hollow series will know Ophelia – Stella is Ophelia without the fangs, or the abject knee-shaking allegiances. Stella is a home town girl – staged a coup to take over the PTA, and is “in charge” of the planning committee – and is instantly suspicious and hostile to Margot. And then we have Kyle – principal of the elementary school, widower with two young children and the man that Margot “met” on her first night in town after a moonshine moment. Kyle’s got his own set of issues with Stella and her dominating ways, the former principal undermining (in that passive aggressive, if not outright aggressive) his decisions and changes, and his own grief about the loss of his wife and struggles with being the only parent to two young girls.
When you add in Margot’s attitude and anger with her father, her discomfiture with the town’s news grapevine and her increasing affections for her family members, as well as a ‘something’ with Kyle that scares her to the bottom of her toes, with laughter, home truths and some utterly ridiculous moments Harper shows Margot’s slow-growing roots, searching for somewhere to land and take hold. When people can be described as “Loyal to a fault – that fault meaning they can’t see that he’s a jackass”, you have to love the poker-playing church ladies who gather at Tootie’s house, and the sheer exuberance of her family and their determination to provide her love and support because “that’s what family is.”. Surprisingly deep for a read that is ostensibly lighthearted, with plenty of laugh out loud moments – Harper manages to bring us a heroine who could have remained closed to the joy around her, but was also desperately in need of a pace and a place that would allow her to poke her head out of the very solid box she lives in. Take a chance on this one: the McCready family is a hoot, everyone knows your name, and as Margot told June “your ability to speak in all caps is astonishing”.
Title: Sweet Tea and Sympathy
Author: Molly Harper
Series: Southern Eclectic #1
Also in this series: Peachy Flippin' Keen, Ain't She a Peach?, Gimme Some Sugar
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy, Family Saga, Small Town, Southern
Published by: Gallery Books
Published on: 21 November, 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 27 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible
Beloved author Molly Harper launches a brand-new contemporary romance series, Southern Eclectic, with this story of a big-city party planner who finds true love in a small Georgia town.
Nestled on the shore of Lake Sackett, Georgia is the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. (What, you have a problem with one-stop shopping?) Two McCready brothers started two separate businesses in the same building back in 1928, and now it’s become one big family affair. And true to form in small Southern towns, family business becomes everybody’s business.
Margot Cary has spent her life immersed in everything Lake Sackett is not. As an elite event planner, Margot’s rubbed elbows with the cream of Chicago society, and made elegance and glamour her business. She’s riding high until one event goes tragically, spectacularly wrong. Now she’s blackballed by the gala set and in dire need of a fresh start—and apparently the McCreadys are in need of an event planner with a tarnished reputation.
As Margot finds her footing in a town where everybody knows not only your name, but what you had for dinner last Saturday night and what you’ll wear to church on Sunday morning, she grudgingly has to admit that there are some things Lake Sackett does better than Chicago—including the dating prospects. Elementary school principal Kyle Archer is a fellow fish-out-of-water who volunteers to show Margot the picture-postcard side of Southern living. The two of them hit it off, but not everybody is happy to see an outsider snapping up one of the town's most eligible gentleman. Will Margot reel in her handsome fish, or will she have to release her latest catch?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.