Home in Carolina
Home in Carolina is the latest in Sherryl Woods’ Sweet Magnolia series set in the fictional town of Serenity, South Carolina. This entry features the reunion romance of a couple who appeared as teens earlier in the series. I enjoyed the visit to Serenity, but felt there were just too many secondary stories to give the book a strong recommendation.
Annie Sullivan’s and Ty Townsend’s mothers are two of the original Sweet Magnolias and the two became close friends as children. When Annie developed an eating disorder in high school, Ty stood by her, and helped save her life. They eventually became lovers and, even though everyone in town thought they would stay together forever, their relationship ended badly.
When Ty became a major league baseball player, the two tried to maintain a long distance relationship. But while Annie remained faithful, Ty became involved with baseball groupies. When one of them became pregnant and eventually dumped their infant son on Ty’s doorstep, the story hit the tabloids, ending Ty and Annie’s relationship.
Annie returned to Serenity after college to work at the local spa owned by Ty’s mother as a physical therapist and personal trainer specializing in sports injuries. Yes, you can see where this is going. Ty suffers a serious injury and is out of baseball indefinitely after surgery, facing months of rehabilitation. So where does he decide to go for rehabilitation? You guessed it; Ty heads not to a big city rehabilitation facility, but to Serenity.
With a town filled with meddlers, it’s not surprising that Annie and Ty are thrown together repeatedly, threatening Annie’s health, as she finds herself once again facing eating problems. Ty is determined to show Annie that he’s changed, to get another chance with her. Things don’t go smoothly with their relationship, as Annie has difficulty trusting Ty and accepting his son.
I found Annie and Ty’s story interesting, but it often took second place to numerous competing secondary stories, including two of Annie’s childhood friends, a local lawyer, and the mother of Ty’s son.
If you like a straightforward romance, this isn’t the book for you. Many of the relationships have gone through difficulties. Rather than fairy tale love stories, the author shows that true love doesn’t always follow a smooth path, that there are bumps in many marriages, and that some actually survive adultery.
I like books that feature many characters, but when Annie’s second friend was introduced toward the end of the book, it began to feel more like the setup for the next generation of Sweet Magnolias than as the story of Annie and Ty. I would have preferred more focus on Annie and Ty, and a few less secondary stories.