Series: Sweet Magnolias #8
Published by Harlequin MIRA on July 26, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Also in this series: Where Azaleas Bloom, Catching Fireflies, Swan Point
Also by this author: Where Azaleas Bloom, Catching Fireflies, A Seaside Christmas, Home to Seaview Key, Swan Point, The Christmas Bouquet, Dogwood Hill, Willow Brook Road
When Elliott Cruz first courted struggling single mom Karen Ames, it was a romance worthy of any Sweet Magnolia fantasy. The sexy personal trainer made it his mission to restore Karen's strength-physical and emotional-and to charm her children. Now, a few years into the marriage, colliding dreams threaten to tear them apart. Elliott's desire to finance the business opportunity of a lifetime with their hard-earned "baby money" stirs Karen's deep-rooted financial insecurities. It's the discovery that their brother-in-law is cheating on Elliott's sister--and thinks it's justified--that puts their irreconcilable differences into perspective. Will their own loving fidelity be a bond so strong they can triumph against all odds?
Sherryl Woods has a talent for making ordinary people and situations real and compelling, and she has done so once again in Midnight Promises. Karen and Elliot Cruz love each other deeply, but the attitudes and assumptions each of them brings to their marriage are causing tension between them. Karen carries emotional scars after her ex-husband ran up huge debts, then abandoned her and their children to deal with them alone. As a result, Karen is extremely averse to taking financial risks, and she insists on communication and full partnership in her current marriage — no secrets. Elliot was raised in a Latino Catholic family with very traditional views of marriage and spousal roles, which leads him to keep quiet about things that might worry or upset Karen in order to protect her. Add in Elliot’s new business venture, his relationship with Karen’s children, and jobs that leave them with too little time together, and the strain on their relationship is taking its toll. Will their love be enough to keep them together despite the issues that divide them?
There’s a lot to like in this book, from Elliot and Karen’s mutual commitment to each other and their marriage to subplots involving an elderly friend who may have Alzheimer’s disease* and the marital woes of Elliot’s sister Adelia. (I admire Adelia, and hope we will see a resolution of her story in a later book.) Woods treats her characters with sympathy and a clear-eyed understanding. It was fun to see the other Sweet Magnolias and their husbands, in supporting rather than cameo roles. And it was refreshing to read a romance about staying in love for the long haul, rather than about falling in love — one, moreover, that shows how much work it can take to keep a marriage strong.
I found very little to quibble with in Midnight Promises. My only complaint, and I’ll phrase it as generally as I can to avoid spoilers, is that although both Karen and Elliot each come to a deeper realization and understanding of their own beliefs and behaviors and how those are affecting their marriage, I felt that one of them never completely confronts a deeper, underlying issue. Still, it is clear by the end that their love, and their marriage, will survive.
There are two more Sweet Magnolias novels due out this summer: Catching Fireflies, due out on July 31, and Where Azaleas Bloom, in stores on August 28. I’m pleased and excited to announce that Harlequin has graciously given me an ARC ebook of When Azaleas Bloom to review. Look for my review around the beginning of August!
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The Sweet Magnolia books in order:
1. Stealing Home
2. A Slice of Heaven
3. Feels Like Family
4. Welcome to Serenity
5. Home in Carolina
6. Sweet Tea at Sunrise
7. Honeysuckle Summer
8. Midnight Promises (review)
9. Catching Fireflies (review)
10. Where Azaleas Bloom (review)
11. Swan Point (review)
Click here for my review of Sherryl Woods’ Chesapeake Shores series featuring the O’Brien family.