In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.
Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.
But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.
What worked for me?
Jemma and Ryder were just too adorable for their own good. I sincerely love them both. I love how down-to-earth they are, how sensitive they can be, how smart and brave they are. They are well fleshed-out characters and that made the book more satisfying to read.
I particularly enjoyed the complicated dynamic between the two main characters. They’ve been in each others’ lives since they were born. They grew up together and I can feel the nostalgia reading about how close they used to be and how because they’ve grown more aware of each other that they’ve somehow drifted apart in a way. And because they have way too much history and their lives more entangled than they could ever get out of, it was endearing to catch glimpses of closeness, understanding, and friendship between Jemma and Ryder.
I also love the setting of the story. There’s something about this town with its historical landmarks and expansive fields and close-knit families that were so endearing to read about. I also appreciated how Kristi Cook handled the hurricane events and aftermath in the story. I live in the Philippines so we pretty much get around 20 typhoons every year and lately they just keep eclipsing each other in strength and destruction. So I can totally imagine the terror of living through a hurricane-type of weather.
What did not work for me?
I was wishing for more Ryder… and more Ryder… Kristi Cook did an amazing job with characterizations but I was craving for more Ryder because we only got to see him and hear him through Jemma since the story was told solely from Jemma’s POV. He’s such an interesting character and I wanted to know what was going on inside his head throughout the story.
I also wasn’t a fan of what happened with a secondary character. I wasn’t completely sold on the direction that the author took in this regard.
Quote: You can imagine what it’s been like since our mothers first plopped us into a crib together, rubbing their hands in conspiratorial glee as they planned our wedding. Playdates followed where the adults smiled and cooed as they watched us dig in the sandbox, where Ryder tugging on my pigtails was a sure sign of his adoration, where me throwing sand in his face proved my devotion.
Scenes: Every time Jemma and Ryder are alone together, just talking sincerely to each other without it escalating into a fight, when Ryder completely understands what Jemma needs at the moment whether it be silence or a reassurance, when Jemma told Ryder about her college plans. So good!
My over-all take on it?
This was an absolutely delightful read. The town setting, the reversed story of Romeo and Juliet, the completely accessible characters, and the sweet young romance will definitely satisfy your craving for a good read.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. Yes, these are my honest and personal thoughts on this book.
About the Author:
As a child, Kristi Cook took her nose out of a book only long enough to take a ballet class (or five) each week. Not much has changed since then, except she’s added motherhood to the mix and enjoys penning her own novels as much as reading everybody else’s. A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.
That’s the official version–here are some other fun facts:
~ As an undergrad, I majored in History and minored in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. While at Southern Miss, I was a member of Phi Mu sorority, and I was a Dixie Darling. And yep, Brett Favre was our quarterback!
~ I studied American History in grad school at Columbia University. I *love* history, especially the Civil War era (U.S.) and Regency- and Edwardian-era British history.
~ My all-time favorite book *and* movie is GONE WITH THE WIND. My book boyfriends are Rhett Butler, Atticus Finch, Mr. Darcy, and Peeta Mellark!
~Weirdly enough (or maybe not so weirdly?) I’m also a big fan of STAR TREK (the original series) and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (the newer Syfy version, with Edward James Olmos). My two loves?! Mr. Spock and Lee “Apollo” Adama.
Connect with Kristi Cook: