Triple Review: Alabama Series by Susan Sands

 

Cammie Laroux is back in Alabama—again.

Dragged back to her small town to help her mother recover from surgery while rescuing the family event planning business should be a cinch. Even for a disgraced television chef, right? Wrong.

Among the many secrets Cammie’s family’s been hiding is the fact that their historic home is falling down. Oh, and the man hired to restore the house, Grey Harrison, is the same high school and college love of her life who thrashed her heart and dreams ten years ago. Yeah, that guy.

Grey, a widower with a young daughter, has never stopped loving Cammie, and when they are face to face once again, the chemistry is off the charts. Cammie may be in full-blown denial, but letting go is no longer in Grey’s vocabulary, even when winning Cammie’s forgiveness and renovating their love may seem like an impossible build even for a master architect and carpenter.

As Cammie finds herself forgetting all the reasons she can’t trust Grey or love again, he finds himself remembering all the reasons he wants her to stay with him in Alabama… forever.  

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Purchase     My Rating: 4½/5 star

Cammie Laroux never had any intention of returning to her home state of Alabama for an extended period.  When she left, she did so under the worst of circumstances so coming home under similar circumstances isn’t at all what she had hoped for.  Her culinary career is in shambles, her former co-worker is ruining her reputation in a very loud and public way, her mother is having a dangerous yet necessary back surgery, and the family business needs a competent hand at the helm.  Since she’s currently out of a job, Cammie is back home in Alabama, again. 

Cammie’s hometown isn’t exactly a metropolis so her hope of staying under the radar is dashed almost immediately.  Out of bed after a long flight, too little sleep, no shower, and only in her underwear, Cammie throws open the curtains only to find her rat-bastard ex-boyfriend standing on a ladder and adoring the view.  Not the way to stay off the radar.  As if the day couldn’t get any worse, as Cammie begins her assessment of the house/business, she discovers everything is much more of a mess than she was led to believe.  The house, an historic site they rent out for all types of events and occasions is coming apart at the seams and apparently, her mother hired her ex to oversee the considerable and extensive repairs.  Even more traumatizing is the kitchen and pantry, Cammie’s happy place.  It’s virtually bare and the house has events coming up sooner rather than later.  Time to go to town . . . . .

Town is just as Cammie expected, a hot bed of gossip and stares and Cammie is the main topic of conversation.  All anyone can talk about is how Cammie’s career literally went up in flames and the fact her ex is back in town and working on her home.  What everyone, including Cammie wants to know is how she feels about her ex, especially considering the fact he is once again single.  Trouble is, Cammie isn’t single and she’s having a hard time remembering that.  Her ex was always hard to resist and now that she’s learning more about what really happened all those years ago and what he’s endured in the meantime, he’s becoming even more irresistible.  With her family encouraging her to forgive and forget and knowing she’ll be in town for an extended period while her mother recuperates Cammie considers the possibility of trying to mend a bridge or two. 

As the days turn into weeks, Cammie finds it harder and harder to resist her ex’s charms and as the house starts coming together and business is picking up, she begins to think more and more about where her future truly lies.  Of course, those kinds of decisions aren’t easy to make and the universe has a way of throwing up one obstacle after another.  In the way of obstacles, Cammie and her ex(?) face all kinds of crazy including Cammie’s fiancé, her former colleague who is still causing problems, one emotionally fragile little girl, and some family secrets not a single person in the world saw coming. 

The Bottom Line: After reading Again, Alabama I feel a little like I need to find a small southern town to live in as there seems to be a lot of crazy that goes down there.  Cammie’s story is just chock full of crazy and it’s enough to make a sane person go, well, crazy!  From one day to the next, Cammie doesn’t know what she’s going to be hit with which makes having her family and ex-turned-friend near such a comfort.  It’s that comfort which reals Cammie in and reminds her of what’s important in life.  There is a bit of everything in this read that greatly appeals to me including a feisty heroine, a sexy, sweet and slightly damaged man, the past coming back to haunt A LOT of people, and enough southern drama and charm to satisfy everyone!

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Emma Laroux’s a fallen Southern beauty queen whose past is barely whispered about in her small town. But the secrets and lies surrounding her scandal still haunt her, and something about Matthew Pope may hold the answers…if only she could put her finger on it.

Matthew Pope wonders what awful karmic thing he’s done to land him in Podunk, Alabama. But when he sees Emma Laroux again after all this time, he knows he’s still the only one who holds the key to unlocking the truth of her past…

Will a shared moment in time ten years ago threaten the best thing that’s ever happened to them – each other?

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley and purchase     My Rating: 4/5 star

By nearly every standard, Emma Laroux is stunning.  She has poise, grace, charm, beauty, all the things one would expect a former Miss Alabama to have.  One would also expect a woman such as Emma Laroux to have a handsome man on her arm, but that is something Emma Laroux most definitely does not have.  In fact, it’s been roughly a decade since Emma last had a serious boyfriend.

In college, the world was seemingly at Emma Laroux’s feet until she quite unexpectedly gave up her Miss Alabama crown and walked away from her long-term boyfriend.  With little to no explanation, Emma left behind everything she had worked so hard for leaving everyone confused by her actions.  Though Emma knows she made the right decision at the time, all these years later, she still isn’t completely clear on what led her to such a huge, life-altering decision.  Things about that time are hazy and lost and time has helped her remember.

In the ten years since her abdication (is that what you call it when a beauty queen gives up her crown??) Emma has led a successful life and mostly fulfilled life.  She’s tremendously close to her family, she has a successful pageant-prep business, and big dog who loves her unconditionally.  Every single (and some married!) man in town wants her, but they also know she isn’t going to say yes to a date.  That is, until Matthew Pope comes to town.

Matthew Pope is a man of the strictest control.  After a near-disastrous childhood, he knows first-hand what a loss of control looks like.  He watches his food intake, he controls his exercise routine, and he runs a tight ship at work.  As a result, Matthew has risen far in his field and carved a nice life.  Emma Laroux makes him want to give up his strict hold on control and, in the beginning choke the life out of her and her big dog.  Trouble is, that frustration and aggravation are mixed with some serious desire and Matthew Pope is determined to have Emma Laroux.  Since he’s new to town, he doesn’t know about Emma’s no dating rule so he dives right on in the deep end and hopes for the best!  What he gets is a whole lot of sexy and more trouble than he could have ever imagined.

While Emma has worked hard to ignore/forget her past, being in a new relationship means sharing and that’s something Emma isn’t at all capable of doing.  Matthew makes her think about the future, but until she can fully understand her past, a future just doesn’t seem possible.  Adding to the frustration is her now married ex-boyfriend turned town mayor who seems awfully interested in Emma’s current situation.  In fact, his interest in she and Matthew borders on stalking and no one, including her ex seems to be able to explain the behavior.  As the days pass by and Emma and Matthew become more serious, it becomes clear Emma’s ex is tied to her hazy past, the abandonment of her crown, and even some of the strange events of the last ten years.  Figuring everything out means exposing a whole host of secrets no one, including Matthew want exposed. 

The Bottom Line:  I tell you what, Ministry, Alabama is just a hot bed of drama and awful secrets.  Isn’t it awesome???  Emma’s story is dramatic, sad, scary, and ultimately very sweet.  She’s lived alone for so long she’s gotten used to the feeling and doesn’t even realize it until Matthew walks into her life.  Matthew reads as somewhat nerdy and wimpy in the beginning, but as the tale unfolds he proves to be nerdy, strong, and sexy.  In short, exactly what Emma needs!  The road for Emma and Matthew is strange, twisted, and dark which makes the ultimate HEA so very, very good.  Because of Emma’s close relationship with her family, they play a huge part in this read and they shine in she and Matthew’s defense.  The only element of this read which kept me from a higher star rating is Matthew’s family which added absolutely nothing to this read.  At the end of it all, I enjoyed Love, Alabama and look so very forward to returning to Ministry, Alabama to see what new, awful secrets are lurking and just waiting to be uncovered.

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Everybody loves local attorney and favorite son, Ben Laroux.  Well, at least everybody of the female persuasion–until he meets Sabine O’Connor. She loathes him and makes no secret of her feelings, even when he pours on his famous charm hoping to thank her for helping his family. Ben has never been told no, and if there’s one thing he’s never walked away from, it’s a challenge.

Sabine hopes she’s finally found peace and safety in the small town of Ministry. She’s changed her name to escape her painful past and her shameful family secrets. Ben Laroux is a gorgeous and sexy complication she can’t afford, but also can’t resist. However, when her past threatens to derail her present and future, Ben might be the only man she can trust.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Purchase     My Rating: 4½/5 star

Is it possible to be a colossal ass and not know you’re a colossal ass??  In Ben Laroux’s case, the answer is a resounding yes!  Trouble is, he is Ministry, Alabama’s most beloved colossal ass which has allowed him to go through life completely ignorant of his behavior.  It’s hard to hide things from the town shrink though 😊

Sabine spends her days trying to help those who are at the end of their rope.  She listens, counsels, and keeps the secrets of countless Ministry, Alabama residents.  Which is precisely why she knows the kind of man Ben Laroux is without ever having to talk to him.  With his ridiculous two date rules, Ben has left many women in Ministry wanting more than he is ever going to be capable of giving.  As Sabine has figured out, Ben thinks he’s doing everyone a solid by being up front and honest.  He never leads anyone on and simply walks away when the dating limit has been hit.  Yeah, Sabine doesn’t need any part of that arrogance in her life.  She’s full up on that kind of crap!

Sabine and her mother are only in Ministry until Sabine can secure a divorce from her powerful, egomaniacal husband.  For two years, they’ve hidden in Ministry hoping he will eventually come to his senses and grant Sabine the divorce she desperately wants.  After all the lies, the cheating, and the relentless pursuit of power, Sabine wants out of the public spotlight and as far away from her husband as is humanly possible.  In fact, Sabine is ready to move forward with her life and that can’t happen as long as she’s still tied to her past. 

When she refuses to give him even an ounce of consideration, Ben decides to push and poke at Sabine until she agrees to give him a chance.  What Sabine finds is a man who is clueless about his behavior, who’s stunningly sexy, and under all the bravado, a genuinely good man who cares for her.  Which is just about the time Sabine sabotages it all by telling Ben about her past and her struggle to break free.  Though he is justifiably angered, Ben does what all Laroux’s do, he turns to his family for advice.  As always, the Laroux’s come to the rescue (HOWARD!!!!) and Ben crafts a plan that will not only secure Sabine’s divorce, but land her despicable husband right where he belongs, in prison!  To be sure, the plan is risky and before all is said and done, it becomes downright dangerous! 

The Bottom Line:  I am still 100% a smitten kitten with Susan Sands’ Alabama series!!  Of all the Ministry couples, Ben and Sabine are by far the most formidable.  With her keen intelligence and insight into human nature and Ben’s intelligence, determination, and kind nature, there’s not much of anything or anyone who can stand in their way.  Well, they can try 😊  Once again, Sands involves the entire Laroux family (and much of Ministry) which makes the read so much better, far more entertaining.  Though I can’t say for sure this is the end of the Alabama series, I can say, if it is, Ben and Sabine’s story would be a fitting ending as it couples up all the Laroux kids and completes the family.  With that being said, there are still a few characters hanging about (Sabine’s sister for example) who are just begging to have their story told.  I’m not being subtle here, Susan Sands, I want more of the Alabama series.  ASAP!!!

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2 thoughts on “Triple Review: Alabama Series by Susan Sands

  1. LOL! I don’t usually comment on reviews, but I felt compelled here!! Thanks for taking the time to review ALL THREE books! That takes time and commitment, friend! You are correct about Rachel’s need for her own story. Christmas, Alabama will be released October 5th (tentatively)!! “Smitten as a kitten.” Love it!! Thanks again!!

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