Published by Gallery Books on November 21st 2017
Genres: Small Town
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Length: 9 hrs 27 min
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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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?
I love Molly Harper’s presentation of quirky, small-town life. If you like your small town romance with some fun, but without fur and fangs, here is a Molly Harper series for you.
We got a introduction to some of the main characters in the novella, Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck, which came out at the end of 2017 which explained how the McCready Family Funeral Home and a Bait Shop came to be in the same place.
The property has been owned by the McCready family for generations. (The ebook has a family history breakdown for ease of reference.)
The main character, Margot Cary, is the daughter who was taken away from the McCready family when her mother moved her to Chicago and remarried when Margot was just a toddler. In the prior novella, we hear about Uncle Stan whose wife and daughter left him years ago because of his drinking.
Margot is a very successful event planner until one disasterous event takes Margot from future partner to unemployed before you can say “shrimp tower.” Especially when seaching YouTube for flamingo fails gets your video 100K hits. Margot is about to lose her apartment and shockingly, no one is taking her job requests seriously. Things can’t get worse when she gets a call from her previously known Aunt Tootie offering her a job, medical benefits and a place to live. Only problem is that Margot needs to move to some place called Lake Sackett, Georgia. With no other opportunities, Margot takes the leap, if only temporary, to meet her family.
While Margot keeps informing everyone that her move to Lake Sackett is temporary, but with no real friends or family to miss in her old life, the fun she is having getting to know her cousins and the laid-back lifestyle by the lake are slowly getting under Margot’s skin. Until she, again reluctantly, agrees to help with the big Founders Day event which is coming up. The lake’s level is at an all-time low and the small town has lost a lot of their much needed summertime vacationers. The small businesses are starting to suffer all over town so guilt wins out over Margot’s desire to beat feet out of town.
Of course, there is romance to be found in any good Molly Harper novel. I really enjoyed first having Margot meet Kyle, a man at first look appears to Margot to be a brooding lumberjack. And after a few glasses of moonshine while out with her cousins, Margot ends up in a make-out session with her lumberjack, who is suddenly not so brooding as he is hot, which comes to an abrupt halt when Margot’s alcohol-fogged brain comes to realize she might just be making out with an unknown cousin and skedaddles. She is happy to find out that there is no family relationship between them but even more surprised to find out that Kyle is less lumberjack and more school principal.
At the start of the story, Kyle and Margot are fun, flirty and sexy. After we find out that hot Kyle is actually daddy Kyle with two little girls, things start to get awkward between them. Although Kyle wife’s died five years ago, he gets very awkward with Margot, especially around his girls. I understand the principal of not wanting to introduce your kids to many women who come and go from your life, but it got so uncomfortable especially in a scene where his deceased wife’s parents show up at the house and Kyle scoots Margot out of the house like he was caught naked and having an affair while his wife is on her deathbed. His wife is dead five years and he lives like a monk. It isn’t so horrible to spend time with a nice woman.
I would have enjoyed the romance a bit more it is just flowed naturally without them trying to avoid labeling it and without Margot screaming that she was leaving town anytime she spent a few minutes with Kyle and his girls and Kyle then acting like spending time with Margot was a dirty secret. In the parts where the uncomfortable feelings were turned down, Kyle and Margot had magic and you could see why he let her in while not finding anyone interesting enough in the years since his wife’s death. I mean, hot, employed, non-related man in a small town would normally draw a lot of attention. It became a little wearisome when all the later nice moments between Kyle and Margot get jerked to an abrupt halt whenever things started turning sweet.
I am looking forward to the next story which features cousin Frankie who stepped up as mortician for the family. She has her own unique style and sense of humor and I hope her sunny disposition stays upbeat in the next novel against the grumpy, new sheriff in town.
Margot sat slumped against the outside wall of her cabin, letting the heat absorbed into the porch soak through her suit jacket and soothed her aching…everything. The price for this comfort was exposure to the evil sun, but she fought the unwelcome blast of light to her corneas with huge Jackie O sunglasses. She was just grateful that the possum eggs stayed down.,
She hadn’t been this hungover–ever–and vowed she would never touch moonshine again as long as she lived. She was actually looking forward to a big mug of Aunt Leslie’s chewy coffee. Despite her drunkenness, the physical exhaustion of white-knuckling through her Aunt Donna’s driving, and the emotional exhaustion from fighting off post-truck-make-out regret and mortification, she’d had trouble falling asleep. She’d tossed and turned in her narrow bed, kept awake by the sound of rocks being banged together. She’d gone to her window, seaching her yard for drunken cousins or bearded locals who might think this was a funny prank, but she couldn’t see anything but trees.
She’d finally drifted off around three and woken up to a text from Frankie, promising to pick her up for work. But instead of the tires-over-gravel crunch she expected, her ears were assaulted by the baying of Tootie’s pack of hounds. Morgot winced and slumped forward, clapping her hands over her ears.
“Rough night, huh, honey?” Tootie called as the dogs clamored around her legs, sniffing and licking despite Margot’s feeble attempts to bat them away. “I told Frankie to take it easy on you. The first time you tangle with moonshine is like dancin’ with a good-looking carnie. Sure, it feels great at first, but you wake up sore and soaked in regret.”
Margot blanched. Aunt Tootie shooed the dogs away and pressed a Tupperware container–the vintage turquoise brand–and a travel mug into her hands. She poke her head throug Margot’s unlocked cabin door.
“Aw, it looks like you’re gettin’ comfortable. That little bird you hung up looks so nice! And the candles. I’m so glad you’re settlin’ in.”
“It’s just a piece of window art; it’s not like I’m signing a five-year lease,” Margot grumbled, opening the Tupperware. Inside, wrapped in Wax paper, was a flaky golden biscut the size of her fist, soaked in melted butter, with thick slabs of bacon, scrambled eggs, and melted Velveeta oozing out the sides. She quickly snapped the lid back on the container, breathing through her mouth to avoid the smell of food. “What the…?”
“Best cure for a hangover is a big greasy breakfast,” Tootie told her. “The bacon fights off the booze.”
“Is there any food available in this town that isn’t soaked in pork fat?”
“Nope,” Tootie said, shaking her snowy head. “It’s in the bylaws. If we’re not feedin’ someone pork products, we get all twitchy and just start throwin’ biscuits at innocent bystanders.”
“Is it in the same bylaws that command you all to carry Tupeprware with you at all times?”
“What to y’all carry your food in up north? Your bare hands?”
A little beagle mix trotted up to Margot and balanced his chin on her knee. He whimpered and eyed her sandwich with his hopeful doggy eyes. “I will not share,” she told him.
More whimpering. The big brown eyes seemed to get even bigger.
“Fine,” she huffed, opening the container again and breaking off a little piece of biscuit. He snapped it from her fingers and gobbled it down.
Margo sniffed at the travel mug and blanched. Was that oranges and…garlic?”
Tootie hooted. “And that’s my special secret cure.”
“What’s in it?”
“You don’t want to know,” Tootie told her. “Just down most of it in the first gulp or you’ll lose your nerve.”
Margot grimaced but gamely pinched her nose shut and downed most of the mug in one long gulp. “That’s not so bad,” she said, smacking her lips against the flavor of citrus. It tasted like a Flintstone vitamin with a chunk of habanero-flavored tuna for flavor.
“Wait for it,” Tootie said. Margot recoiled at a combinatino of fish and fiery spice battling it out on her tongue. “There you go.”
“What are all the beverages here trying to kill me?” Margot spat, wiping her tongue with one of the many napkins Tootie had supplied with the biscuit.