Series: Sweet Magnolias #10
Published by Harlequin MIRA on August 28, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Also in this series: Midnight Promises, Catching Fireflies, Swan Point
Also by this author: Midnight Promises, Catching Fireflies, A Seaside Christmas, Home to Seaview Key, Swan Point, The Christmas Bouquet, Dogwood Hill, Willow Brook Road
Single mom Lynn Morrow is determined to put food on the table for her son and daughter. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband has failed to meet his obligations time and again -- but it turns out that Ed is struggling with his own demons.
Enter contractor Mitch Franklin, an unlikely knight in shining armor. A widower with two grieving sons, Mitch once admired Lynn from afar. Now he sees in her not only the sweet girl who got away, but a woman desperately in need of support. While rushing to the rescue of Lynn and her children comes naturally to Mitch, he's also wise enough to encourage Lynn to find her own way -- hopefully straight into his arms.
I received a review copy of this book from .
Sherryl Woods consistently turns out well-crafted, enjoyable contemporary romances, and her latest novel is no exception. Where Azaleas Bloom, the tenth book in Woods’ popular Sweet Magnolias series, is a warm and sensitively-written book about finding love after loss.
Both main characters are portrayed with sympathetic insight, as are many of the secondary characters. Lynn’s anger at her estranged husband’s failure to provide for their children and her struggle to understand why her marriage failed both ring true, as do her commitment to and concern about her children. Lynn tries very hard to maintain her children’s faith in their father and his love for them, despite his actions. She also does her best to protect them from knowing how bad the financial situation is, with mixed success. Lynn isn’t perfect; her pride leads her to hide the truth about her financial state and even isolate herself from her friends. Fortunately, neither Mitch nor the Sweet Magnolias are willing to let her get away with that.
Mitch is the ideal man for Lynn: caring and considerate, patient, honorable, a good father to his own grown sons and role model for Lynn’s young son Jeremy – and attractive to boot. He’s willing to take their developing relationship slowly, in part because he wants to be sure he himself is ready to move on after his wife Amy’s death, but mostly because he recognizes that Lynn needs time. Their growing attraction and friendship deepening into love are well handled. I also enjoyed Mitch’s relationship with his sons, neither of whom is initially comfortable with the idea that he is seeing someone.
Strong female friendships are a welcome feature of all the Sweet Magnolias books, and Where Azaleas Blooms delivers on this front, as well. Although Lynn isn’t initially part of the circle of friends known as the Sweet Magnolias, they are quick to offer support and friendship. Two subplots involving the “Senior Magnolias”, a trio of older women, are carried over from previous books. I love the inclusion of all these women, with their reminder that friendship and romance aren’t limited to the young.
I did have some difficulty with the eventual resolution of Lynn and Ed’s divorce. To begin with, I figured out well before the end of the book why Ed was behaving the way he was. And while forgiveness is a wonderful message, I felt that there should have been stronger consequences for his actions. But those are relatively minor flaws, and did not detract significantly from my enjoyment of the romance between Lynn and Mitch or the book as a whole.
I’d recommend Where Azaleas Bloom to readers new to Sherryl Woods as well as to long-time fans. Although the book is part of a series, it can stand on its own, as can many of Woods’ other novels. Be forewarned, though, that Woods’ books can be addictive!
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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.