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review 2017-04-19 03:53
Slightly South of Simple
Slightly South of Simple: A Novel (The Peachtree Bluff Series) - Kristy Woodson Harvey

By: Kristy Woodson Harvey

The Peachtree Bluff Series #1

ISBN:1501158058
Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication Date: 4/25/2017 

Format: Other 

My Rating: 5 Stars +

Top Books of 2017 

 

Talented Southern storyteller, Kristy Woodson Harvey returns following her debut Dear Carolina and her strong follow-up, Lies and Other Acts of Love landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 with the first of a new series, Peachtree Bluff: (Top Books of 2017) SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE — a mother and her three grown daughters are all at a crossroad in their lives, and each has choices to make.

Compelling, emotional, full of humor, infused with love, life, tears, and joy with a little romance sprinkled in and some scandalous family secrets! A poignant and heartwarming story of three daughters and their mother determined to help them rediscover their southern roots and family bonds.

Matriarch (mother), Ansley Murphy has made a simple life for herself in the small harbor town of Peachtree Bluff, GA. Her grandmother left her the beautiful and spacious coastal large clapboard home with a guesthouse.

Her husband Carter was killed seventeen years earlier in the 9/11 tragedy, and she has carved out a nice life for herself with a successful waterfront design business. Her own mother lives in Florida. She also has an annoying neighbor next door, Mr. Solomon, with some great local friends and clients.

Ansley has some secrets about her husband. Others about herself. Things the girls do not know. She has put her family first all these years. Will her time finally arrive at long last?

An attractive woman, age fifty-eight, she works out and stays in shape. She does not date and pretty much has thrown herself into her business, her grown daughters (when they allow) and grandchildren. It was difficult being a mother of grown children. They are strong willed and have a mind of their own.

However, living alone with her normal routine will soon change. She may get more than she bargained for. Three grown daughters return to move in with her and soon to be four grandchildren. Man, do they have different personalities!

Caroline was her least favorite daughter, even though she loves her, she could be difficult at times. She even named her interior design shop: Sloane Emerson (after her two younger daughters), since Caroline wanted no part of it, referring to it even today as a camper-trailer design business. She had said if she named the store after her she would die. No one lives up to Caroline’s standards.

Eldest: Caroline, a New Yorker thinks of this small Southern town as hick-hellhole. However, now she may have no choice but to return to the place she tried hard to escape. When she married James (14yrs), she thought they had in all, until she was six months pregnant with her second child and he informs her he is in love with his twenty-one-year-old supermodel, Edie Fitzgerald.

So she decides to take a short sabbatical with her eleven-year-old daughter Vivi and head to Peachtree. Maybe she can take over the guesthouse. She is very picky, high maintenance, and does not like germs. She worries about what others think and say. Only the best of fashion and ultimate fitness will do.

Sloane, the middle child was the selfless one. Of course, she was laid back and could care less about germs or any of the things which mattered to Caroline. She is the timid one, married a local boy had her family and remained in the area. Her military husband is overseas so she decides to crash at the house as well to spend time with her sisters.

Emerson is a successful film star. She is thin, eats healthy and stars in a movie shooting in the Georgia town, so decides to stay at the house to spend time with her sisters and mom.

 



With all the emotions running high of three different personalities of grown daughters, sisters bickering, grandchildren and an old boyfriend back in town, Ansley has her hands full. In the midst of it all, Ansley fears the secret (s) will come out. Those she has harbored for years to protect everyone.

After Ansley’s pain from losing Carter, and sometimes her daughters hating her (like most girls), hiding Carter’s secrets, and hiding her own. She just could never imagine starting over with anyone new. No one else could possibly understand her life.

Jack was Ansley’s first love. However, back then they decided to go their separate ways because he did not care about having a family. This was important to Ansley. Now, Ansley is shocked to learn Jack is here in Peachtree Bluff and wants her to redo the design for his boat. He has made his money and can travel.

Everyone knows she is the best yacht designer this side of the Mason-Dixon. She cannot let this happen, especially now since her girls were coming home. Is he a threat to her safe family world? Why?

However, as the complexities of these sisters get tense, the family come together, the girls find they want their mom to be happy, and at the same time, they all may just learn something from one another. They may figure it out together. Peachtree Bluff is a town of hidden truths and stolen moments and a family who loves one another. A time of discovery for all of the women.

Crossing generations, Harvey always brings out some dark family secrets which have been securely buried. A poignant journey of healing, bonding, forgiveness, and redemption. Things, people, and places which shape our lives.

Kristy once again delivers a charming Southern story of family, sisters, relationships, motherhood and reinvention. As you are reading you will relate to certain characters. My favorite was Ansley. Such a strong woman and continued to root for her. Hoping she would find some happiness.

She is protecting herself from something she didn’t need to be protected from. She was protecting her daughters from a threat that wasn’t really a threat at all. But she is opening her heart. One that had been closed for so long.

Character-driven, the author has made her way quickly to the top of my favorite author list and one of the best Southern contemporary storytellers of today. (Highly recommend all three books).

As a native NC /GA gal myself, so refreshing to discover an author who breathes life into each of her characters, while transporting you to the beautiful coastal areas of the Southeast we love. She writes about strong women and the challenges of life, both personally and professionally.

From her first debut, I fell in love with the author's richly textured, authentic heartwarming style. You can come to expect strong family bonds, romance, secrets, plus someone will be a little wiser after the journey. If you have not read this author, get busy. SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE should be at the top of your beach bag! Summer doesn't begin without a Kristy book.

Yay! I hear from an online interview we can expect more from these characters with #2 Peachtree Bluff THE SECRET TO SOUTHERN CHARM, featuring the middle sister, Sloane and of course more from Ansley and Grammy.

I will be anxiously awaiting. Cannot wait to see what is in store next for the Murphy women! More Ansley/Jack, please!

A special thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/04/Slightly-South-of-Simple
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review 2017-04-08 01:21
Slightly South of Simple: A Novel (The Peachtree Bluff Series) - Kristy Woodson Harvey

I absolutely loved this book. I was so wrapped up in the lives of Ansley and her three daughters. All of them coming back home to live with her. Caroline, pregnant, with a nine year old daughter and a husband who is dating a supermodel on a reality TV show, no less. Sloane who has 2 young boys and whose husband is deployed overseas. And, last is Emerson who is the actress and the youngest who is filming a movie in Georgia near her mother's house. Emerson is also unmarried. So all the girls are back home again.

I read this book over a week ago and am still finding myself smiling and remembering these women and this book. I was not ready to let these characters go when I was finished with the story. The author did such a great job creating them. They truly felt like real people.

This was my first book by this author and it will not be my last.

Thanks to Gallery, Threshold Books for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-03-14 04:57
Lies and Other Acts of Love
Lies and Other Acts of Love - Kristy Woodson Harvey

By:  Kristy Woodson Harvey

ISBN: 9781101987063

Publisher:  Penguin/Berkley   

Publication Date:  4/5/2016

Format: Paperback

My Rating: 5 Stars 

 

A special thank you to Penguin and NetGalley, and the author for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Talented Southern storyteller, Kristy Woodson Harvey returns following her charming debut, Dear Carolina, with LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE, another heartwarming inter-generational tale of life, love, family, relationships, and marriage.

Filled with humor, reflections, wit, and wisdom—rich in character, this Southern gem will win your heart. “The lies that matter most are the ones we tell ourselves.”

Reflecting on the wisdom and life experiences obtained, we hear from two women:

Grandmother Lovey, age eighty-seven is Southern proper, a classic, affluent, with an eastern North Carolina accent and flair. A grand lady, she loves to impart her wisdom. Her mother told her that honesty was the most important thing in life.

The truth does not always set you free. The truth destroys lives and shatters the mirror. The truth is shameful and selfish, and better kept to oneself. A paperclip for our lives--White Lies. They are defibrillators that bring us back when we are on the brink of succumbing to the light.

However, Lovey always said true love was something you had to fight for. Her husband, (D-Daddy) has dementia. Living in the past. Slipping into old memories. He is fading away. The girls want them to move to an assisted living and sell the house. Some days he does not remember anyone. Their five grown daughters, want the best for their parents.

Annabelle-the granddaughter, age twenty-three, a college graduate. Lovey is the most influential woman in her life. D-daddy (her grandfather) is a kind man. Generous, humble, forgiving, faithful and true. A man who knew his values and stuck by them. Annabelle is a hopeless romantic.

She was engaged to Holden. She dumped her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician—Ben, she has known for three days. She called off a wedding, three years in the making with a thirty-second phone call and zero explanation, after the save the date announcements were mailed.

Holden was the dependable one. Predictable. He would never cheat and his secretary would always buy her something from Cartier for her birthday. He would also be on his cell phone with always business first. Not what she wanted.

She meets the good-looking, adventure-RV hippie loving musician, Ben. Their free-spirited lifestyle touring, ended when Ben moves them to his charming hometown of Salisbury, NC to help his dad (an accountant) with his business. They are a wealthy family and the couple move into the pool house. She loves Ben and they are madly in love. They have passion.

Annabelle wants a baby. Ben’s mom is a sex therapist, and she is feeling pressure to have a baby -- feeling a bit insecure. They have tried everything, and it is not working. In the meantime, she runs into Holden and he continues to text her –he wants her back.

Though Holden couldn’t get her blood pressure up quite like Ben, he was a master of the romantic gesture. He could whisk her off to Paris at a moment’s notice.

She needs to be busy and involved. She begins working at a nearby church, St. Paul’s. This will take her mind off the pregnancy. She loves her job, and she grows fond of the minister-her new boss, Father Rob, affectionately nicknamed Priest Charming by his parishioners. She had taken a part-time job which turned into full time. She finds her work fulfilling. (maybe something more here). . .

However, she needs friends, living in a small new town. She becomes involved in fund raising and a local girl befriends her. Turns out she betrays her, as well as her husband. She is devastated. She has choices to make. Decisions. She begins second-guessing her entire life.

In the meantime, her grandmother takes a fall, and she is in the hospital. She discovers yet another shocker about her family, a secret—making her rethink marriage, loyalty and love. She had married for love and look where it had gotten her. Miserable. Disgusted. She had to let go of those Cinderella dreams she had since childhood.

Flashing back and forth, with alternating chapters from Lovey and her life as a young girl, (1945-present) her childhood, her strict parents, her love, dating, the war, college, and their re-connection--- ultimately the marriage to Dan—with five daughters and one lovely granddaughter, Annabelle. The challenges of raising a family and a marriage.

 

 



We hear the innermost thoughts of Annabelle. She is close to her grandmother. She begins thinking about her life, when she is faced with her own betrayal and lies. Her marriage is not what she planned. She is done with the heart-racing thing.

From the outside, Annabelle has always put her grandparents on a pedestal. Her grandparents are the perfect couple, madly in love. However, when she discovers there is a flaw, she is disappointed. What happened to her grandparents in the past? They protected their family, the best way they could.

What if we had taken a different road? Once you know a thing so huge, you can never unknow it again. Sometimes we become what we hate. Are some things in life better left unsaid?

Thought-provoking: Each chapter in the novel begins with a lesson, or observation that serves as a theme. Life is about choices. In between Lovey and Annabelle, we hear from Sally, Jean, and the other daughters. They have problems as well. From loss, love, and hope. People are flawed and imperfect. Marriage, relationships, family, infidelity, divorce, pregnancy, miscarriage, affairs, lies, secrets, betrayal, and dysfunction. We grow from our misfortunes.

“The meaning of deeper love—the kind of love that ebbs and flows, fights, and forgives. The kind of love that takes a bullet, recovers in the ICU and lives to tell about it.”

I loved Lovey! My favorite part was her story. Priceless. Often, younger generations have no clue the sacrifices, and obstacles our parents and grandparents had to face in a time when things were different. I also loved Cameron—she was rude and sarcastic with a big heart. If you fell in love withDear Carolina, readers will love Lies and Other Acts of Love!

Kristy does an outstanding job with character-development and knows the South! Some parts are laugh out loud! A Charlotte, North Carolina native, loved visiting familiar places, mixed with Kristy’s wit and insights. Enjoyed the Salisbury, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro connections.

Fans of Dorothea Benton Frank, Patti Callahan Henry, Wendy Wax, Mary Kay Andrews, and Joshilyn Jackson, (all my favorites) will delight! For mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and granddaughters- an ideal choice for book clubs, group discussions, and of course a perfect gift for Mother’s Day.

PS. I loved the Montaldo’s reference. I used to shop at Montaldo’s in Winston-Salem, NC years ago – the best shoes!

Enter a Book Giveaway Contest, April 5-15.

For a chance to win a copy of LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE

Enter Here Blog Tour Stop April 5.

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Lies-and-Other-Acts-of-Love/cmoa/562506240cf2c6c6437ceacb
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review 2015-06-27 23:45
Dear Carolina
Dear Carolina - Kristy Woodson Harvey
ASIN: B00O2BS3KW
Publisher:  Penguin/Berkley
Publication Date:  5/5/2015 
Format:  e-book
My Rating: 4 Stars
 
DEAR CAROLINA, a stunning southern and compelling debut of love and sacrifice by Kristy Woodson Harvey, of two mothers, one biological, one adoptive—with plenty of love to go around for one little girl, “You can never have too many people to love you.”

Frances “Khaki” Mason had it all with homes in both North Carolina and Manhattan. A successful interior designer, a loving husband, Graham and a son, Alex. She has the Best of two worlds (city and country). However, she has been unable to conceive a second time. They have tried everything and still coming up empty, very disappointed when they both wanted a house full of kids.

Jodi, is a 19-year old cousin of Grahams; an alcoholic, out of rehab, now pregnant, and a boyfriend long gone. She goes to Khaki for money for an abortion. Khaki, cannot believe here is a girl, who does not need to be pregnant, while she would give anything to be able to get pregnant. However, sometimes God just has other plans in mind. Adoption was not something she had ever thought about.

Speaking to baby Carolina in alternating chapters from voices of both Khaki and Jodi, with letters to their beloved daughter, from two totally different women, with one common interest – the best for their baby girl.

Written with southern charm, humor, compassion, and sensitivity, Dear Carolina will warm your heart. Being a Southern gal myself (native of NC), with clients in Charleston, SC, spending most of my adult career in Atlanta, GA, and South Florida being home for the last twelve years; I enjoyed the North Carolina/southern references, as Kristy knows her south, well. (would make a great gift for mother’s day).

An author to follow, she will be a big hit as a southern author, and enjoy her design blog, Design Chic, as an avid follower on social media.

I wanted to wait for the audiobook release; however, it is not currently out yet; however, enjoyed the Kindle e-book. Kristy, not sure who will be the narrator, but would love to hear January Lavoy - One of my favorite performers for southern fiction.

Well-done, a beautiful debut! Look forward to many more bestsellers to come.  The next Dorothea Benton Frank meets Emily Giffin! 

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Dear-Carolina/cmoa/558f01590cf2bba69539465c
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