Stevie‘s review of Sweet Tea and Sympathy (Southern Eclectic, Book 1) by Molly Harper
Contemporary Romance published by Gallery Books 21 Nov 17
Small-town romance series are a bit hit or miss for me, but I keep coming back to them in the hope of finding one where the quirky nature of the locals is matched by a strongly characterised central pairing. The trope generally follows the pattern where either an outsider moves to the town through some accident of fate or recently discovered connection or where a former resident returns after a long absence. Either way, part of the fun is seeing the newcomer settle (back) in and (re)acquaint themselves with the locals and their odd traditions. In the case of this particular opener to a new series, the heroine is returning to the bosom of the long-lost family she’d all but forgotten about after her big-city career implodes spectacularly.
Margot Cary is an event planner, who fully expects to receive a long anticipated promotion following her next successful gala: so much so that she’s made plans to move into a more upmarket home and given notice on her current place. A mix-up with the catering and some unruly wildlife, however, lead to Margot losing both her job and her new mortgage. News of the disaster spreads rapidly, and it seems that no firm is prepared to take her on, until she receives a call from her long-estranged great-aunt who wants her to move back to her father’s hometown and join the family business. Although Margot hasn’t seen her father or his family since she was a toddler, she reluctantly accepts the job as a short-term measure and heads down to Lake Sackett, Georgia: home to the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop.
The McCready family are a wonderful bunch of eccentrics, not that Margot appreciates them much at first, as are their neighbours. The town itself is in rather a decline, ever since the main tourist attraction fell victim to a manmade disaster. Soon, though, Margot is joining in with the townsfolk’s plans to put on a festival that will reinvigorate the town’s reputation, helped in no small part by her attraction to the school principal, Kyle Archer: a widower with two young daughters.
Much as I loved some of the quirky characters in this story, others felt a little too out-there, with feuds between neighbours that had little backstory but served to keep Margot busy trying to sort things out. I also felt that her romance with Kyle felt a little forced, and really couldn’t see the pair of them lasting in the long run.
All in all, a fairly average example of the genre that doesn’t really encourage me to get excited about the next in the series.
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?
Read an excerpt.