Sherryl Woods – The Next Generation of Sweet Magnolias Series
I was first introduced to the Sweet Magnolias when Woods released the first in the series, Stealing Home. I instantly fell in love with the three women who had been best friends since childhood. They were strong women dealing with the twists and turns that life threw them with laughter, love, and a healthy dose of margaritas and Dana Sue’s spicy guacamole. Through children, failed marriages and new love, the women stick together and provide each other with a support that is second to none. I was upset when all three women had had their stories told because I wanted more, so much more, but I was sorely disappointed when Woods brought in a fourth Magnolia, because I simply didn’t “feel” her as I did the other ladies. Now though, Woods has brought the Next Generation of Sweet Magnolias to readers, giving us three young women who have already been through so much in their young lives. What’s better is that these young women are indeed Sweet Magnolias, after all, Annie’s momma is Dana Sue of the famous spicy guacamole.
Now that I’ve had a chance to read all three of the latest Magnolia books I decided to lump them together as well. Not only because I’ve done a lot of reading and very little blogging, but because these women are such a tight knit group they need to stay together–even in pseudo-reviews.
There’s no place like home, especially if it’s Serenity, South Carolina. For Annie Sullivan, though, the homecoming is bittersweet. She’d always envisioned a life there with her childhood best friend, Tyler Townsend. But Ty’s betrayal has cost her the family and the future they’d once planned.
For Ty, losing Annie was heartbreaking. Still, he can’t imagine life without the three-year-old son whose mother left him for Ty to raise. Ty wants it all—Annie, his child and the future he’d dreamed about—and he’s back home in Serenity to fight for it. But getting Annie to forgive and forget may be the hardest challenge he’s ever faced. With the stakes so high, this is one game he can’t afford to lose.
We first meet Annie and Ty in the original set of Sweet Magnolia novels. Annie is Dana Sue’s daughter and Ty is Maddie’s son. Both kids played large roles in their mom’s books and had readers clamoring for their stories. Ty had been Annie’s rock. Older than her by a couple of years, young Annie had a serious crush. Ty had stuck by Annie through her nearly fatal struggle with anorexia, and the two made a go of a relationship. But when Ty’s baseball career takes off, he doesn’t exactly handle it the way a man in love should. Instead, Ty goes for fling after fling, following in the footsteps of many of his team mates. When Ty gets a young woman pregnant–and that woman is not Annie–the tabloids have a field day and Annie realizes that she absolutely cannot stay with him anymore. Heartsick and depressed, Annie heads home to Serenity, where she goes to work at the Corner Spa as a physical therapist specializing in sports injuries. But the sad truth is, something is missing and broken in Annie, and her relationship with Maddie, Ty’s mom, is just one of those things.
When Ty gets hurt he retreats to Serenity. He misses Annie and something inside him hopes that this injury and his recovery will help the two work things out. But Ty’s been a single daddy for a long time, and Annie can’t help but feel heartsick and angry whenever she looks at his son. Will the two be able to work things out and take the second chance that life is giving them?
Well, you can bet with the Sweet Magnolias on the case, they have more than a fighting chance. But, Annie doesn’t just have the Sweet Magnolias on her side, her old friend Sarah is back in town and when she walks in the Corner Spa, over-weight and needing Annie’s help to shape up before her husband walks out on her and her daughter, taking their son, Sarah and Annie rekindle their old friendship finally getting Raylene their third partner in crime (battered and nearly broken) back in Serenity, and the Next Generation of the Sweet Magnolias begins.
Sweet Tea At Sunrise (Sarah’s Story)
Emotionally wounded single mom Sarah Price has come home to Serenity, South Carolina, for a fresh start. With support from her two best friends—the newest generation of the Sweet Magnolias—she can face any crisis.
But sometimes a woman needs more than even treasured friends can provide. Sexy Travis McDonald may be exactly what Sarah’s battered self-confidence requires. The newcomer is intent on getting Sarah to work at his fledgling radio station…and maybe into his bed, as well.
Sarah has learned not to trust sweet words. She’ll measure the man by his actions. Is Travis the one to heal her heart? Or will he break it again?
Sarah Price has come back to Serenity with the hopes of fixing herself to save her marriage. Being married to Walter Price has wrecked havoc on her self esteem. Walter whose parents own a very big business and have big expectations of the type of woman they expect their son should have. When Walter starts to treat Sarah the same way his parents do, it ends with her sending her off to fix herself–lose weight, learn to keep a clean house, take better care of the kids–so that she can come back and be the type of wife a Price deserves. But Sarah knows the real reason Walter is sending her off is to make divorcing her that much easier when she fails–again–to meet his expectations. What Walter didn’t plan on though, was Sarah’s two best friends from childhood coming to her rescue and helping her find her way back to being Sarah.
Finally able to file for divorce, Helen (one of the original Sweet Magnolia’s and divorce attorney extraordinare) makes sure that Sarah retains custody of both of her children. You see, Walter only really wanted their son, and has never had much use for their daughter. Taking a part time job at Wharton’s, Serenity’s very own hot spot of gossip, waiting tables, Sarah finally feels as if she’s getting it all together. And then Travis walks into her life.
Travis McDonald is in Serenity to start over. A one time professional baseball player, his career is over. Looking for a life very different from his old one, Travis is ready to set some roots down. While contemplating his next move every morning in Wharton’s Travis soon finds himself very drawn to the very sexy Sarah Price. But Sarah won’t be an easy person to win over. She’s gunshy when it comes to men, with good reason, so when Travis opens up a radio station in Serenity and wants Sarah to be the morning show’s host, she’s more than a little reluctant. For one thing, Walter’s told her time and again what a failure she is when it comes to organizing and managing anything, for another, Sarah finds Travis far too appealing for her own good.
Will Sarah be able to overcome the insecurities she’s developed after years with a verbally abusive man? Will Travis be able to prove to her that he’s worth taking a risk on?
Her devastating marriage behind her, Raylene Hammond is truly thankful for her best friends, the Sweet Magnolias. They’ve taken her in, shielding her from the world. Then she meets sheriff’s deputy Carter Rollins, and suddenly Raylene’s haven no longer feels quite so safe.
Carter understands why Raylene is trapped inside. He’s even taken to bringing the outside world to her. But with two kid sisters to raise, just how much time can he devote to this woman who’s stolen his heart?
Raylene knows Carter is a man worth loving, but she may never be strong enough to accept what he’s offering. How long can she ask him to wait? Maybe they’ll never have more than this one sweet summer.
Of all the Sweet Magnolia’s books, I have to say that Raylene’s story touched me the most. Sarah and Annie had lost touched with Raylene who had moved to Charleston, married a doctor and avoided everyone she knew. Finally though, Raylene’s husband goes too far, sending her to the hospital broken and bruised, Raylene loses the baby she was carrying and this gives her the courage to get away. With the Sweet Magnolia’s help, Raylene divorces her husband and sees him locked in jail.
But Raylene is in a prison of her own. Shortly after making her way home to Serenity and moving in with Sarah, Raylene has developed a disorder of some sort. She can’t leave the house without a panic attack and her friends are worried. And though Sarah has employed a babysitter for when she’s at work to look after her children, Raylene sometimes finds it necessary to be alone with the kids. Then one day, Raylene’s worst fear happens, Tommy (Sarah’s son) disappears under her watch. He had just been outside but now he’s gone. Raylene does her best to find him, but can not make it any farther than the front porch, and even that far is almost too far.
When new deputy Carter Rollins finds Tommy and brings him home, he sees a rich princess, too worried about herself and her fashion to go farther than the front stoop of the home to look for a lost boy. But, as with most things, appearances are not all they seems and Carter soon finds himself smitten with this beautiful woman locked inside. But Carter as problems of his own, after his parent’s passed away Carter found himself the guardian of his two sisters, one of which has major problems. Perhaps Raylene can help him while he helps her.
Woods writes stories of friendship, love and homecoming that any reader of Romance and Women’s Fiction is sure to enjoy. Her Sweet Magnolias have found a permanent place in my heart and I’ll treasure the moments I’ve spent in Serenity for a long time to come. If you belong to a book club, grab your fellow reader sisters and read this great series. There’s even discussion questions in the back. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.