I am having such a good time with these Sugar Shack books by Candis Terry. Her sense of humor is terrific. Her characters are charming and fun. The Sugar Shack is one of those nearly extinct places only the smallest of American towns will know, along with all the other beloved amenities and values that are becoming more and more lost. While Ms. Terry brings some of that into present day – which we as a society sorely need – she never lets go of the old-fashioned-ness that takes her hero in a direction he never dreamed of.
Dean Silverthorn is the golden boy of Deer Lick, Montana – a big league quarterback with chart-topping records and mega-buck contracts. But all it takes is one hard sack to the turf and his playing days may be over. So he’s come home to recuperate just before Christmas, where he gets two big surprises of his life. First, he taken with the local school teacher. She’s the kind of woman who wants love, kids, a picket fence, and happily ever after. Forever. Dean knows he’s not that type of man, not after the life he’s led with movie stars, supermodels, and top athletes. Second, driving his mom’s old boat of a Buick around town comes with an unexpected passenger – his mother’s ghost, who still has work to do to see her children settled.
We met Emma Hart in the first book of the series, Second Chance at the Sugar Shack. She dated the hero, but then gave him up when she realized he still loved his heroine. Her dream has always been to have someone love her for who she is, to not forget who she is. Being forgettable is her worst fear. So you can just imagine Dean’s amazement when Emma turns down his overtures. Sure, it’d be wonderful to be on his arm and in his bed, but she can’t compete with supermodels. She’d be forgettable for sure. Emma is holding out for that perfect man just for her.
But Dean can’t let her go. She’s in his mind constantly and little by little arrowing her way into his heart. He wants her, even knowing she wants something more than he can give her. Every instance this couple is together is magic. Even those when they don’t see eye to eye and things aren’t going that smoothly for them. Dean finds himself doing and wanting things he never imagined. He loves Emma’s softness and curves when it’s always been stick-thin supermodels he’s dated before. He’s allergic to cats, but when tragedy strikes Emma and Oscar, he’s right there for her, taking care of everything. He scores big time with Emma and me during that scene.
Emma does try to stay away from Dean. She knows after his shoulder heals and he’s 100% again, he’ll be leaving Deer Lick to head back to his team and the game he loves. Only when she discovers he’s not planning to be hands-on with the camp for autistic children he’s funding is when Emma truly walks away. He talks the talk but he doesn’t walk the walk. It’s not until he returns to the team doctor to be released for play that Dean realizes maybe Emma is right. He does some soul searching, but can he give up the game that’s meant everything to him for so long?
Very slowly you see Dean change throughout this book. Emma is a terrific influence on him, but you also see how he was raised. His father still misses the wife he lost not too long ago. He loves his children with all his heart, and you see that at every turn, and you see the same from Dean’s mother. Those are some great scenes in the beginning when Dean gets his first meeting with his mother’s spirit. The longer Dean is away from his celebrity life, the more he finds all he left behind years before and what the future can hold for him if only he’d reach out and take it.
If you’ve been in a reading slump lately, pick up these books. I can guarantee you’ll be back on the road to reading after meeting these characters and living their lives with them. Even if you’re not in a slump, read these books anyway. They will do your heart good.
Dean Silverthorne’s mother may be dead, but she still has matchmaking to do.
When an injury dashes NFL Quarterback Dean Silverthorne’s Super Bowl dreams, he heads back to Deer Lick, Montana with a chip on his wounded shoulder and more determined than ever to get back in the game. He loves his kooky family, but his trip home is nothing but a very brief Christmas visit.
His game plan didn’t include an instant attraction to Emma Hart, a feisty kindergarten teacher who seems to be the only person in Deer Lick not interested in the hometown hero. Or his dearly departed mom popping up with mistletoe in hand and meddling on the mind. Now Dean can’t help but wonder if there’s more to love than life between the goal posts.
Read an excerpt. (click appropriate tab)
Other books in this series: