Lucy Brewer would never have guessed that her best friend, Duffy McCready (of McCready’s Bait Shop & Funeral Home) has been in love with her since they were kids. Fear of rejection and his own romantic complications prevented Duffy from confessing his true feelings in high school, so he stood by and watched her wed Wayne Bowman right after high school. Wayne had always been a cheapskate, so it comes as no surprise when he suffers a fatal accident while fixing his own truck.
Even as her family and friends invade Lucy’s life and insist that the new widow is too fragile to do much beyond weeping, Lucy is ashamed to admit that life without Wayne is easier, less complicated. After all, no one knew what a relentless, soul-grinding trudge marriage to Wayne had been. Only Duffy can tell she’s hiding something.
In need of a fresh start, Lucy asks Duffy to put his cabinet-building skills to use, transforming the town’s meat shop into a bake shop. As the bakery takes shape, Lucy and Duffy discover the spark that pulled them together so many years ago. Could this finally be the second chance he’s always hoped for?
Duffy McCready has only ever truly loved one woman and it sure isn’t his bat-sh*t crazy ex-wife. No, Duffy McCready’s heart has only ever truly belonged to his childhood friend, Lucy Brewer. With Lucy back in town after a long absence and Duffy finally completely disentangled from his ex, there is every expectation that Lucy and Duffy will pick up right where they left off so many years ago.
As far as Duffy is concerned, the friend zone sucks but since he never actually declared his true feelings to Lucy, he’s going to have to settle for the friend zone for the time being. What’s more, Lucy isn’t back in town and ready to simply go back to the way things were. No, Lucy is back in town fresh off the death of her husband, trying to avoid her toxic in-laws, trying to learn about life as a single parent, and working towards the launch of her new sweets shop. With so much on her plate, Duffy is pretty sure he’s going to be stuck in the friend zone for a good long while if he doesn’t do something drastic.
As is always the case in the McCready family, Duffy has a lot of help and advice coming from his relatives. There’s not a McCready in the bunch who doesn’t want to see Duffy happy and they all agree, it’s about time he and Lucy Brewer finally get together. To that end, Lucy is lovingly welcomed back into the fold and everyone begins working on softening her up and encouraging her interest in Duffy. Though Duffy knows all involved are well-intentioned, he also knows he can’t rush Lucy or force feelings that may not be there.
Lucy Brewer knows several things: she doesn’t miss her dead husband the way she probably should, her mother-in-law may be the devil incarnate, her sister-in-law is most certainly the devil’s spawn, her son is the best thing in the history of ever, and if she can ever get all the paperwork filed and the renovations done, her sweets shop is going to be tremendously successful. Oh, and there’s one more thing she knows, Duffy McCready has grown into a fine man and her feelings towards him are so far beyond the friend zone. To be sure, there is a long road ahead and Lucy is already up to her butt in getting settled in and moving forward rather than looking back. It’s going to take real effort, lots of meddling relatives, and more than a bit of misunderstanding and confusion to get to a hard earned HEA.
The Bottom Line: In general, I have greatly enjoyed the Southern Eclectic series, but I completely loved this particular book! Duffy has been a consistent favorite for me over the course of the series and I was so glad to read about his deserved HEA. Duffy has been through the wringer and that doesn’t change in this read, only Duffy’s response to the situations. There’s so much growth in Duffy and that is one of the things I always look for in characters and books. On the flip side is Lucy, a brand-new character to the series who makes quite the impression. From page one, Lucy is bold, fierce, and more than willing to speak her mind. Though she certainly has some issues of her own to deal with, Lucy is (mostly) clear in her wants and desires and is determined to fight anyone who dares stand in her way. I adore Lucy, her fire, her strength, her mouth, and pure determination. While I have liked all the couples in the series, I have to say, Lucy and Duffy are far and away my favorites!! I feel like there could be one more book in the series (Duffy’s momma!) but if there isn’t, Gimme Some Sugar is a great way to end this quirky, fun, HEA filled series.