Monday, August 11, 2014

Sweet as a Magnolia Blossom

Published:  August 5th, 2014
By: Kristi Cook
Simon & Schuster
ISBN-13:  9781442485358

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty.  Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbeques, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage.  So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents' wishes.  They're only seventeen, for goodness' sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other!  Jemma can't stand Ryder's nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing more than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn't exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma's and Ryder's true feelings for each other as the two discover the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.


     Jemma Cafferty is pretty much the perfect daughter for her parents: obedient, sweet, cheerleading and straight A student.  But she's beginning to want more for her life than they do, starting with film school in far away New York City.  Ryder Marsden is the local high school's football hero, the golden boy-next-door and he used to be Jemma's childhood friend.  Their families have been tied together for generations, since the Civil War when one of her ancestors saved one of his from death.  The Caffertys and the Marsdens have been wanting to unite by marriage but there's never been an eligible boy/girl pair - until now.  Too bad Jemma and Ryder had a falling out in eighth grade, and have hated each other's guts ever since!  But with a family emergency throwing Jemma's household for a loop and sending her parents away right before a hurricane blows in, can Jemma work with Ryder to secure the house and the animals through the raging storm?  And will they finally clear up an old misunderstanding, that's been keeping them separated for far too long?
     I loved the growth and development we see on the part of both Emma and Ryder.  They start out in blinded dislike, and the storm causes them to look at each other in completely different ways.  The ways Emma is a less-than fragile southern girl, full of etiquette but also able to outshoot any man in town and with a gun that she's given a name.  Ryder is dealing with the pressure of being his parents' only child and therefore the only one to shoulder all their hopes and dreams of the future.  Basically, Ryder and Jemma are star-crossed because they are both stubborn, and so contrary that they refuse to give one another a chance, solely because of their parents' expectations.  The romance is a slow-build and it is pretty swoon-worthy!  Even though it takes time for them to come around, once they do it is HOT, HOT, HOT!!!  The family dynamics in this one are also something that is wonderful.  With the crisis going on in Jemma's family, we get to see the relationships between her, her sister, their mom and their dad, as they cope with something they have no control over.  Plus, nothing like a natural disaster to bring people together!  Overall, a sweet fluffy, contemporary YA romance that has a cute beginning, middle and a fitting ending.  I'd definitely recommend it unless you need your books to be conflict-heavy and don't like fluff!

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is August 5th, 2015.*

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