Book Title and Author: Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Series: Peachtree Bluff #1
Publication Date and Publisher: April 25, 2017 by Gallery Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 400 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: February 8, 2019 (paperback)
Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.
Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.
I just finished reading Slight South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey a couple of weeks ago and let me just say that I loved it! Being a southern girl, I love fiction set in the South, especially about strong, southern women and in this book, we get four very strong, very determined women although this is mainly the story of a very pregnant Caroline and her mother, Ansley. Sisters, Sloane and Emerson, round out the three siblings, and I fell in love with each one. Being an only child, I love reading about sisters, and this captures all the wonderful complexities and dynamics of siblings just beautifully!
Caroline is the oldest, and she’s a bit over the top, dramatic, and dare I say it…bossy, but she’s come home to Peachtree Bluff, Georgia from New York City to try and piece her life back together after her marriage has fallen apart. She knows she can come home to heal with her mom and sisters rallying by her side. There is drama, secrets (so many!), fights, love, warmth, forgiveness, and so much more in Slightly South of Simple! The characters are fantastic, witty, warm, failable, yet wise. I teared up more times than I care to admit when Kristy’s characters said or did something that was especially wise or moving about marriage, motherhood, or family.
I’m so glad that I picked up this book when I did because it was exactly what I needed to read right then. It’s the perfect start to the Peachtree Bluff trilogy, and I immediately had to read book two, The Secret to Southern Charm so I would be ready for book three, The Southern Side of Paradise which releases in May! If you haven’t read this book yet, then I definitely recommend that you do!
Book Title and Author: The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Series: Peachtree Bluff #2
Publication Date and Publisher: April 3, 2018 by Gallery Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 400 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: February 17, 2019 (paperback)
After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve.
Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.
But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all.
Harvey’s signature warmth and wit make this a charming and poignant story of first loves, missed opportunities, and second chances and proves that she is “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author).
All I can say is that I loved every single bit of The Secret to Southern Charm but of course, that’s not enough to describe the feelings and emotions this book gave me. The Peachtree Bluff series is about three sisters, Caroline, Sloane, and Emerson and their mom, Ansley, and The Secret to Southern Charm is Sloane and Ansley’s story (and more of her sister’s too).
When Slightly South of Simple ended, Sloane just found out her husband was MIA in Iraq, and I have to admit that struck me to the core in ways that some things just can’t. You see, I identified with Sloane more than with Caroline or Emerson because I spent 6 years as a military wife and experienced my husband being deployed three times. Thankfully he always came home safely, but there’s always that nagging, heartwrenching fear and worry every night and day until they’re home and in your arms. Kristy captured so wonderfully the essence of being a military wife-its fears but its strengths too. I cannot express how much I love that she took the time and care to get it just so right.
More than anything though, I loved again how this novel is about family, love, coming together in a time of need, strength, grace, and charm. I love this line from the book:
“Grammy had said earlier that the accent was the secret to Southern charm. But she was wrong. This putting on a brave face, carrying on, helping others, being kind and humble and giving, believing with all your heart that the world could be a better place and that maybe you could make it that way…that was Southern charm”
I think it so perfectly describes the essence of the characters and the novel. The strong women in this book remind me so much of the women that I call my family and my friends. Kristy writes honest, real characters that are so very relatable.
I love, love southern fiction and this is truly southern fiction at its best–unique, charming, refreshing, hopeful. I cannot recommend The Secret to Southern Charm highly enough! I truly hope you’ll read this series and discover why it’s now one of my favorites.
I cannot wait to share with all of you my review of book three, The Southern Side of Paradise in May because it is just the perfect, most wonderful book and most amazing ending to the series!
Also, stay tuned May 1st because I’ll be hosting a giveaway for The Southern Side of Paradise, which releases on May 7, 2019! So make sure and watch for that giveaway, both on here my blog and on my Instagram page for your chances to win that fabulous book!