AIN'T SHE SWEET

Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Author
Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Author . Morrow $24.95 (383p) ISBN 978-0-06-621124-4
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Hardcover - 383 pages - 978-0-7499-0640-5
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A small town's prodigal daughter returns to face her past in bestseller Phillips's latest cheeky, diverting fairy tale. Sugar Beth Carey, "the wild child of Parrish, Mississippi," was once the queen of all she surveyed, but after 15 years and three marriages, she's a broken (and broke) husk of her former self. Who's loving the schadenfreude? The Seawillows, for starters—the gaggle of Southern belles Sugar dumped years ago, plus Winnie Davis, the half-sister she treated like dirt. And there's more: not only did Sugar stomp on gorgeous Ryan Galantine's heart (luckily, Winnie caught him on the rebound), she also got Colin Byrne, the sexy British high school teacher, fired for ostensibly coming on to her. Colin now owns her family's manse, and she's inherited the carriage house on his property—along with a highly valuable painting, location unknown (might it be hiding in Colin's attic? Or is it right under her nose?). Phillips keeps the tension high, with Colin (now a successful writer and member of the town's "in" crowd) and all of the rest of Parrish looking to make Sugar pay for past misdeeds. Colin hires her to be his housekeeper, and soon their days are filled with bickering, backstabbing and lots of orgasmic sex. A subplot involving Gigi, Winnie and Ryan's rebellious teenage daughter, who somewhat improbably turns to Sugar Beth for advice, detracts from the primary drama. The novel is at its best when Phillips sticks with what she does best—fast-paced romps featuring two headstrong people who finally realize that they're soul mates. 7-city author tour. (Feb. 3)

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