Saturday, June 24, 2017

Where Azaleas Bloom - Sherryl Woods (Mira - Sept 2012)

Series: Sweet Magnolias (Book 10)

Single mom Lynn Morrow is determined to put food on the table for her son and daughter. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband has failed to meet his obligations time and again -- but it turns out that Ed is struggling with his own demons.

Enter contractor Mitch Franklin, an unlikely knight in shining armor. A widower with two grieving sons, Mitch once admired Lynn from afar. Now he sees in her not only the sweet girl who got away, but a woman desperately in need of support. While rushing to the rescue of Lynn and her children comes naturally to Mitch, he's also wise enough to encourage Lynn to find her own way…hopefully straight into his arms.

Good book. Lynn is in the midst of a crisis. Her soon to be ex-husband has missed child support payments and hasn't been paying the mortgage on the house. She's down to her last few dollars with little food in the house and no way to pay the bills. She is justifiably angry at Ed, but determined to protect his relationship with their children. This is especially difficult with their fourteen year old daughter, who is old enough to understand what is happening. She has one part-time job with friend and neighbor Raylene, but needs something else. While looking for a job in a bad part of town, she is spotted by Mitch, who offers her a job with him instead.

Mitch is a widower who lost his wife to a drunk driver a year earlier. He is slowly working himself out of the overwhelming grief he had felt at the beginning. Mitch and Lynn have known each other since they were kids. Mitch had had quite the crush on her when they were thirteen, but she was already fixated on Ed, so he never did anything about it. Now he can't help but want to make things better for her.

I loved Mitch. He is sweet and protective and he understands Lynn very well. I really liked the way that he didn't stomp on her pride in his eagerness to help, but instead made it possible for her to help herself. I really liked how they began with friendship that slowly grew into more. Mitch is careful to ensure that he is truly ready to move on after his wife's death before he tries to advance things with Lynn. I also enjoyed his interactions with her kids, especially taking Jeremy under his wing.

I liked Lynn's determination to take care of her family. There were times when her pride refused to allow her to seek the help she needed, but her children's welfare was always at the top of her priorities. I liked watching her stand up to Ed when she needed to.

The development of their relationship was slow and sweet, with a hint of fire lurking under the surface. I liked the way that Mitch made his interest clear without pushing Lynn to move faster than she was ready for. Lynn was surprised by her attraction to Mitch, and a bit wary of her feelings at the beginning. There was one stumbling block that had to be dealt with, but I thought that Mitch handled it very well. When Ed decided to use Lynn's relationship with Mitch during the divorce proceedings, I ached for Mitch and what he decided to do. There was also a little bit of drama with Mitch's sons, but again, maturity and communication went a long way toward resolving that issue. I loved the ending and seeing Mitch and Lynn get the future they wanted.

The drama of the divorce was well portrayed. The problems faced by Lynn are all too common. I loved seeing Helen's reactions to Ed's antics and her determination to protect Lynn and the kids. The mystery of what Ed and his lawyer were up to was interesting, and had me considering several possibilities. What it turned out to be never crossed my mind. There were times I detested Ed and others when I felt sorry for him. In the end, I felt that Lynn handled everything quite well, including her dealings with Ed's mother. I also ached for the two kids, most especially for Lexie. Her feelings for her father were affected by his actions and she was torn in how she wanted to treat him. I liked the way that Lynn helped her to accept her feelings, but also to look at things from other perspectives.

Also running through the book was a continuation of what is happening with the three senior Magnolias. In the previous two books we had seen that Frances is having health problems that have begun to escalate. I hurt for her and her fears and frustration, and ached for Liz and Flo as they helped her deal with them. Their problems were lightened somewhat by Flo's revelation of what she has been up to. Helen's reactions are just what is expected, and seeing the two of them resolve the strain between them was both funny and heartwarming.

As always, the deep friendship among the Magnolias and their support of each other through thick and thin is a force to be reckoned with. I loved Lynn's acceptance into the group and how each of them helps her in their own way. I hope that there will be more books in the future, when the younger generation, who have already shown Magnolia values, are ready for stories of their own.

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