Home in Carolina (Sweet Magnolias Series #5)

( 94 )


There’s no place like home, especially if it’s Serenity, South Carolina. For Annie Sullivan, though, the homecoming is bittersweet. She’d always envisioned a life there with her childhood best friend, Tyler Townsend. But Ty’s betrayal has cost her the family and the future they’d once planned.
For Ty, losing Annie was heartbreaking. Still, he can’t imagine life without the three-year-old son whose mother left him for Ty to raise. Ty wants it all—Annie, his child and the future ...

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Home in Carolina (Sweet Magnolias Series #5)

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There’s no place like home, especially if it’s Serenity, South Carolina. For Annie Sullivan, though, the homecoming is bittersweet. She’d always envisioned a life there with her childhood best friend, Tyler Townsend. But Ty’s betrayal has cost her the family and the future they’d once planned.
For Ty, losing Annie was heartbreaking. Still, he can’t imagine life without the three-year-old son whose mother left him for Ty to raise. Ty wants it all—Annie, his child and the future he’d dreamed about—and he’s back home in Serenity to fight for it. But getting Annie to forgive and forget may be the hardest challenge he’s ever faced. With the stakes so high, this is one game he can’t afford to lose.

“Redolent with Southern small-town atmosphere…emotionally rich.” — Library Journal on A Slice of Heaven

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491524596
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 7/1/2014
  • Series: Sweet Magnolias Series, #5
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 550,825
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.37 (d)

Meet the Author

With her roots firmly planted in the South, Sherryl Woods has written many of her more than 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. She's also especially partial to small towns, wherever they may be. A member of Novelists Inc., Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America, Sherryl divides her time between her childhood summer home overlooking the Potomac River in Colonial Beach, Virginia, and her oceanfront home, with its lighthouse view, in Key Biscayne, Florida.

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Read an Excerpt

Settled at her usual table near the kitchen of her mom's restaurant, Annie Sullivan ate the last of her omelet and opened the local paper to the sports section. Even though she and major league pitcher Tyler Townsend, a hometown boy, had been apart for a long time now, it was a habit she hadn't been able to break. She kept hoping that one day she'd see his name in print and it wouldn't hurt. So far, though, that hadn't happened.

Today, with the baseball season barely started in mid-April, she was expecting nothing more than a small jolt to her system from the local weekly. Instead, her jaw dropped at the headline at the top of the page: Star Braves Pitcher Ty Townsend on Injured Reserve. The article went on to report that after pitching just three games, the baseball sensation from Serenity would be out indefinitely following surgery two weeks ago for a potentially career-ending injury to his shoulder. He'd be doing rehab, possibly for months, and he'd be doing it right here in town. He was, in fact, already here.

Clutching the paper in a white-knuckled grip, Annie had to draw in several deep breaths before she could stand. Shouting for her mother, she headed straight for the restaurant kitchen, only to be intercepted by sous-chef Erik Whitney.

Regarding her with concern, Erik steadied her when she would have dashed right past him. "Hey, sweetheart, where's the fire?" he asked.

"I need to see my mother," she said, trying to wrench free of his grasp.

"She's in her office. What's wrong, Annie? You look as if you've seen a ghost."

Though she'd poured out her heart to Erik as a teenager, right this second she was incapable of speech. Instead, Annie simply handed him the paper.

Erik took one look at the headline and muttered a curse. "I knew this was going to happen," he said.

Annie stared at him, her sense of betrayal deepening. "You knew about this? You knew Ty was back in town?"

Erik nodded. "Since the day before yesterday."

"Mom, too?"

He nodded again.

Now it was Annie who uttered a curse, made a U-turn and headed back to the table to grab her purse. What had everyone been thinking, conspiring to keep something this huge from her? Especially her mom, who knew better than anyone the damage secrets, lies and betrayal could do.

Erik stuck with her. "Come on, Annie, don't blame your mother for this. Go to her office. Talk to her," he urged as she stormed past him through the kitchen. "She was just trying to protect you."

At the door, she turned and asked angrily, "So I could be blindsided, instead? Ty had surgery two weeks ago, Erik! He's been in town how long—a couple of days? A week? It's not as if this happened yesterday."

"I'm sure Dana Sue thought it wouldn't make the paper here before she had a chance to tell you."

"Forget the stupid newspaper. We're talking about Serenity in an age of cell phones and the Internet," Annie said incredulously. "Gossip spreads in minutes, and around here Ty's big news. Heck, even you knew, and you're not tapped into the grapevine. You all knew before one word of this hit the paper."

"Helen's tapped in and I'm married to her, to say nothing of working for your mom. Not much gets past the Sweet Magnolias. And in this case, they all knew what was going on the instant Maddie found out Ty had to have surgery."

"Which begs the question," Annie said bitterly. "Why didn't anyone think I had a right to know?" A thought suddenly struck her. "That's where Maddie went a couple of weeks ago, isn't it? She went to be with Ty when he had his surgery."

Erik nodded. "Look, it's not about you deserving to know," he said reasonably. "You've been pretty touchy about anything to do with Ty for quite a while now. Nobody's known quite how to handle it."

Okay, that was fair. In fact, Annie totally understood the dilemma. She and Ty had been together on a casual basis during her senior year in high school and for a couple of years after that. Since their mothers, Dana Sue and Maddie, were best friends, she and Ty had been friends forever, as well. The ties binding them had been tight on many levels.

And then it had all unraveled. Annie supposed the breakup had been as inevitable as the fact that they'd fallen in love in the first place. After all, a superstar professional athlete had beautiful women falling at his feet in every city. How was Annie, the quiet hometown girl struggling every day to beat an eating disorder, supposed to compete with that, especially when she was still in college?

The official disintegration of their relationship had dragged out over an entire year, partly because neither of them had known how to dash all those parental expectations that they'd marry and live happily ever after.

For months they'd seen the handwriting on the wall, but they'd both been in denial. When tensions had been running especially high, they'd tried to avoid coming back to Serenity at the same time. On the rare occasions when family get-togethers couldn't be avoided, they'd tried to deal with the awkwardness with carefully orchestrated polite indifference. They'd both understood how a bitter split could potentially damage the lifelong friendship between their mothers, and they'd wanted to avoid inflicting that kind of collateral damage. At least they'd agreed on that much.

Of course, all of that was before the real damage had been done, before Ty's infidelity had become public knowledge in the worst possible way. After that, all bets had been off. There'd been no more pretense that things had ended amicably.

Fortunately, neither her mom nor Ty's had asked too many questions once the facts were out there. It went beyond sensitivity. Annie suspected Dana Sue and Maddie had made a pact years earlier to leave the two of them alone. Goodness knew, the Sweet Magnolias, as Dana Sue and Maddie and Helen had been known since high school, meddled in everyone else's lives, but over the years they'd barely mentioned Ty in Annie's presence or her to him. More recently, the silence had been deafening.

Annie supposed their current avoidance of the subject was part of the same old pattern, though she was in no mood to cut them any slack this time. Didn't they think she'd care that Ty had sustained a serious injury? Didn't they know what it would do to her for him to be right back here, in her face every single day? Couldn't they at least have warned her?

As she started out the door, Erik tried once more to stop her.

"Wait!" he commanded. "Come on, Annie. If you won't talk to your mother, talk to me. I swear I'll just listen. You can rant and rave all you want."

She regarded him with a bleak expression. "There's nothing to say." Ty had as much right to come home to Serenity as she did, even if it would turn her life upside down.

"Where are you going?"

She shook her head. She honestly didn't know. Not to work, that was for sure. She worked at The Corner Spa, owned by her mom, Helen and Ty's mom. Maddie, in fact, ran it. Annie didn't want to face her right now, either. Though they both tried, it had been awkward between them ever since the breakup. Now it would be a thousand times worse. She wasn't sure she could bear another of Maddie's pitying looks.

Ironically, Annie worked at the spa as a sports injury therapist and personal trainer. Armed with her degree as a physical therapist and two years of experience at a sports injury facility in Charleston, she'd had the idea to add a physical therapy component to the spa's services.

And while the spa was open only to women, there wasn't a doubt in her mind that Ty intended to do his rehab there in the off-hours when no one else was around. He could be counting on his stepfather and former coach, Cal Maddox, to oversee his rehab, or even the spa's other personal fitness instructor, Elliott Cruz, but Annie suspected that sooner or later someone was going to suggest she get involved. She was the one with the expertise in sports injuries, after all.

Just the thought of seeing Ty again was enough to make her want to throw up. It had been years since she'd won her battle with anorexia, and though she'd never been bulimic, right this second any thought of food made her nauseous. The little bit she'd already eaten churned in her stomach.

Even as the dark thoughts registered, Annie gasped. No way! she thought fiercely. She was not going to let Ty's return send her back into the kind of self-destructive eating pattern that had nearly killed her. She was stronger than that. And he was a pig. In fact, that might have to become her mantra, one she repeated at least a dozen times a day.

"I am strong, and Tyler Townsend is a pig!" she said aloud, testing it.

Yes, indeed, that ought to keep her from backsliding. And if she felt herself slipping on either front, well, she could always take an extended vacation somewhere far away from Serenity until Ty's shoulder had healed and he was back to his glamorous, self-indulgent lifestyle, the lifestyle he'd chosen over her.

Satisfied with her plan, she considered going to work, after all, but concluded it might be a bit too soon to test herself. Instead, she called the spa and asked Elliott to take any of her appointments he had time for and to cancel the rest.

"I'm taking a mental health day," she informed him, falling back on an excuse she hadn't used since high school.

"Ah, you heard about Ty," he said, sounding sympathetic. "Anything I can do?"

"Has he been sneaking in there after hours?" she asked, hating the fact that there were virtually no secrets in this town except those kept from her.

"Just a couple of times," he admitted. He hesitated, then added, "I've started working with him, but he'd do better with you."

"Hell will freeze over before that happens," she said heatedly.

"Think about it, Annie," Elliott urged. "His career's on the line, and he was once your friend."

"He was more than a friend and he blew it," she retorted, unyielding. "Will you deal with my appointments today or not?"

"Of course I will," he said. "I'm sorry you're hurting."

Annie sighed. "I just wish I knew if I'm more hurt because Ty's back or because everyone apparently conspired to keep it from me."

"A little of both, I suspect," Elliott said. "Do something totally spontaneous today, something a little crazy. Blow off some steam. You'll feel better."

Annie considered the suggestion, then dismissed it. The only thing that might make her feel marginally better would be having Elliott—or anyone else—agree to punch Ty's face in. She smiled at the thought and suddenly knew exactly where she needed to go—to the one person who might actually do that for her.

Ten minutes later, she was sitting on a stool behind the counter at her dad's hardware store on Main Street, while he waited on a customer. Ronnie Sullivan had a history of being quick-tempered and protective. This might work to her advantage today.

As soon as they were alone, her father surveyed her intently. "You don't look so good, kid."

"You could make me feel better," she suggested.

"By punching Ty's lights out?" he guessed, proving he, too, had been in on the town's worst-kept secret. "I don't think so."

She sighed. "Why not? He deserves it."

Ronnie laughed. "No question about it, but can you imagine the ruckus that would stir up between your mom and Maddie? They'd be forced to take sides, and so would Cal and I. Then Helen and Erik would be drawn into it, and eventually the entire town would likely follow suit. Pretty soon, everybody would have to wear buttons or ribbons to declare which side they're on. Sorry, sweetie, it just wouldn't be good for business, and in the end, you'd be consumed by guilt for stirring it all up."

Despite herself, Annie chuckled at her dad's logic. It was true: Serenity did have a tendency to take sides, and there was no way this feud between her and Ty would stay quiet for long, even without her dad beating Ty up for her. And, damn her soft heart, she would feel guilty about it.

"I guess I'll just have to deal with this," she said morosely.

Her dad pulled a stool up next to hers and studied her with a frown. "Is there anything else I can do to help?"

"You can tell me why men are such idiots," she said. The question wasn't rhetorical. She really wanted to know.

"Hormones and a lack of common sense," Ronnie said at once. "Just look how I messed things up with your mom for no good reason. Weigh that against how long it took me to make things right. Idiocy definitely played a role in that." He slanted a look at her. "You want to talk about what happened? I know it's a touchy subject, but you've never said a word about how you felt when things blew up and all Ty's dirty laundry was spread all over the tabloids."

"I think my feelings are pretty obvious without dissecting them," she told him.

"Sometimes talking does help."

She shook her head. "Not likely."

"Sweetie, I know how badly he hurt you, and if I really thought it would help, I would punch him." He hesitated, then added, "I also know how important his friendship was to you for a long time before that. Do you really want to lose that, too?"

"I lost our friendship a long time ago," she said mournfully. That, as much as anything else, was what had broken her heart. "I just have to face it, Dad. It's over. Not just the relationship, but also the friendship. I'll never be able to trust Ty again."

"Your mom learned to trust me again," he reminded her gently.

"Not the same," she said.

Her dad was right about one thing, though. Cheating was something he and Ty had in common. The big difference was that Ronnie had recognized his mistake after one careless, irresponsible slip. Ty not only hadn't acknowledged it, he'd compounded it by cheating over and over until he'd finally gotten caught. He had a three-year-old son as proof of his infidelity.

Annie might have been able to get past the cheating with enough time, but that precious little boy? No way. Any babies Ty had were supposed to be with her, not some gold digger who'd slept with Ty a couple of times, then dumped her kid with him in exchange for a big payoff when he wouldn't marry her.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 94 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 96 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2010

    Home in Carolina

    I like trilogies and can't wait for the next one to come out.Sherryl Woods characters come alive and they are so real you want to meet them,I can see the little town in South Carolina especially since I lived in Charleston S.C. for man years.
    Her books are entertainng and make a good read at any time.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011


    I love the series and especially Ty, but why did they make him cheat? It seems like most of the stories involve a cheating husband, and after falling in love with Ty and Annie, I didnt want their story to go down the same boring path. Still a good story, but not as good as the first by far!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    This could have been a really good book

    I loved the idea of this book and thought that I was going to be in for an emotional rollercoster ride. How wrong I was. This book had no depth and really no emotional feeling to it. It felt as if the author just didn't spend any time on it. It felt rushed. When Ty comes back to town he dosn't do any groveling or says that he's sorry at all. He just has this 'I'm here, I want you and you just have to deal with it' type of attitude.They act as if he only cheated with one woman when in fact ther were scores of them. Annie comes off as having no backbone what so ever. At one point she confronts Ty about cheating with his groupies and he says'Yes I cheated on you Annie but don't make it into something ugly'. She then tells him that he is right and tells him that she is sorry! Oh and don't get me started on Ty's mother,Maddie. She should have been a better friend to Annie because she knows what it feels like to be cheated on. Insead she tells Annie that she owes it to Ty to give him another chance. I also felt like there were too many secondary characters that had nothing to do with the realtionship between Ty and Annie and it really took away from the story. The author should have focused more on the main characters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2012

    Highly recommended.

    I have read most of the books by Sherryl Woods. They are all outstanding and I would highly reccommend them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Awesome book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    pleasant second chance at love romance

    Sports injury therapist Annie Sullivan is eating breakfast at her mom's restaurant in Serenity, South Carolina when the newspaper states that Star braves pitcher Ty Townsend is on Injury Reserve following surgery to his shoulder after suffering a potential career ending injury. He is back in Serenity to heal with home cooking, which makes Annie unhappy as they were seeing one another until he betrayed her with a sports groupie Dee-Dee.

    Ty knows he screwed up when he could not resist the seductive offer, but wants a second chance with Annie. However, the proof of his transgression is his three years old son Trevor who he is has solo custody of and refuses to give up his child even for Annie. As Ty tries to earn a second chance, Dee-Dee arrives in Serenity willing to use Trevor as an extortionist ploy to get what she wants.

    The latest Serenity Sweet Magnolias romance (See Sweet Tea at Magnolias) is a pleasant second chance at love romance starring a warm cast filled with southern charm. Although everyone involved proclaims what is best for Trevor is what they want, each of the adults except for Dee-Dee's thought provoking BF and Annie's sandwiched mom come across selfish. Still readers will enjoy dining at Helen's restaurant in serenity where sweet ice tea is served to drink.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2013

    Anne Sullivan had always loved Tyler Townsend and it had seemed

    Anne Sullivan had always loved Tyler Townsend and it had seemed like what they had was a love that would last a lifetime but then Tyler went and betrayed Anne. When it came out that his secret lover was pregnant with his child, Anne was left heartbroken with all her dreams shattered. Now it has been years and Anne has moved on or so she prefers to think. 
    She is now a successful sports injury therapist and has finally come back to Serenity, her home, to stay. Tyler, on the other hand, has become a successful quarterback but he never forgot Anne. He has spent his last several years repenting and regretting his recklessness in throwing away Anne's love.

    "She'd looked up to him, trusted him, talked to him...fallen in love with him.
    Then he'd betrayed her. And for what? A string of casual flings that had meant nothing....
    Unfortunately, it had taken too long for him to realize just how empty and meaningless all that was."

    An injury gives him the perfect excuse to come back home and try to win Anne back. He is ready to face his mistakes and make amends. But a sudden appearance of his three year old son, Trevor's mother, leaves him scared of losing his son and determined to not let that happen. Dee-Dee had left her infant son on Tyler's hotel doorstep one day and never looked back to check if his father had even took him in! Now her unexpected maternal displays of affection and longing are surprising and a reason of unease for everyone especially Tyler, who is devoted to his son and ready to fight tooth and nail to keep him.

    What does Dee-Dee want?
    Is she truly missing her son and just wants to see him? Or is there a deeper agenda involved?
    Will Anne forgive Tyler for all the heartache and broken dreams?
    Is Tyler truly willing to make sacrifices and go that extra mile to win over Anne?
    Will Anne be able to accept Tyler's son and make a family with him?

    When I took up this book,Home in Carolina, I didn't know it was part of a series. I came to know about it only after checking about it on the internet. Although, this book can be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading it in order because several times in the book references are given to the previous story lines which would be best understood if the reader has read them.

    The cover is captivating and serene and it was the cover that made me pick up this book. All the coming-back-home-to-find-closure theme attracted me.

    The writing style of Sherryl is simple and crisp. She is able to engage the reader with her balance of humor, wit and serious. She expertly includes references to her previous story lines and also gives hints about her subsequent books, thus, creating an interest in the reader for the next Sweet Magnolias books.

    Although, the plot was interesting but I felt the story was not executed at par with the plot. It felt it was unnecessarily long with Anne and Tyler going in circles. Sometimes it seemed like now Anne would give way to her love for Tyler and accept him but then suddenly she would retreat to her previous angry and hurt self. In the end also she was sure of never accepting a future with him but then a cozy dinner and some romantic music changed her mind leaving the reader reeling and confused. If only a dinner was needed to pacify her then Tyler should have done that before instead of waiting for so long. I just mean to say that the reasons for reconciliation and closure are not convincing and I felt unsatisfied here.

    The friendships in the story are beautifully portrayed in the book be it the friendship between Anne, Raylene and Sarah or Dana Sue, Maddie and Helen. The love between Cal and Maddie, Ronnie and Dana Sue, Erik and Helen is heartwarming and touching and I thoroughly enjoyed them. This is the first book where I loved the supporting characters more than the main ones! The stories for these lovable supporting cast have either come before this book or will feature next and have made me eager to go and read the previous books in this series as well as give a shot to the subsequent books.

    Home in Carolinais a light and a leisure read. I give it a 3.8 out of 5. This review is also available on my blog Njkinny's World of Books..

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2011

    Highly Recomment

    This series is amazing. With each book you feel more like part of the family. Could not put it down.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    Great Series

    I got the first 4 books of this series from my sister and enjoyed them so much I decided to buy the remaining 3 to complete the series.

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  • Posted August 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Tyler and Annie

    They have been the two best characters I wanted to read about the most and I enjoyed being given the chance to read about them! By far the best one for me anf of course when Tys mom Maddie married Tys coach Cal Maddox!

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  • Posted May 24, 2010

    Great read!

    This was my first time reading one of Sherryl Woods books. I will definitely be reading the rest of the Sweet Magnolia series.

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

    The new chapter of the Sweet Magnolias

    I would like to start by saying that I am a huge fan of Sherryl Woods, she is a wonderful author who has the ability to draw readers into another world with her stories. The first three books in the Sweet Magnolias series were magnificent and gave a great back story and lead in into this first in the second installment of the series. I did however find this book slightly lacking. One of my favorite parts in reading Sherryl Woods is how easy she makes it to fall in love with the characters. In this instance I found it more difficult to really care about these two people, which was disappointing because of the back story throughout the other three books. The trials between these two characters were hard to believe because we get to know them in the previous books. I had a very hard time understanding that he would cheat on her after everything they had already been through together. I would however absolutely recommend giving this book a shot if you are a fan of her work or if you are a romance reader looking for something new. I fully intend to continue on with the series because at the heart of things I do love Sherryl Woods and the tales of love that she provides in each of her books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

    excellent storyline

    great character development and nice visiting the sweet magnolia's again

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    Love those Sweet Magnolias!

    What a great book! This was the first book I read in the Sweet Magnolia series, and I really enjoyed it. The author did a good job at reeling me into her imaginary town of Serenity and making me feel a part of this small, southern community. Living in a small town, I was able to relate to the the repeated instances where everyone in town seemed to know what was happening almost before the people involved did! It is also very difficult to be the "cheatee", and try to decide if you want to re-build that relationship, especially with the whole town watching (helping?), but she pulls it off with style. While reading this book, however, I felt as if I missed some really important stories about the secondary characters, so I went back and bought the first four books in the series to get the whole picture. Prior to this book, I have only read a couple of books by Woods, but see that she has written 100+, so I plan to catch up on some of her older ones as well as watching for the new ones coming out.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Home In Carolina

    Sherryl Woods Sweet Magnolias continue on to the next generation. If you enjoy her writing and her trilogies, you'll enjoy this next installment of the characters in Serenity, South Carolina. The Magnolias and their families are delightful, touching and totally supportive of each other. They're very careful of who comes into their town. They are extremely proud of their town and its heritage. Anyone who has read Miss Woods' books will find that this is a book that won't be put aside to read later. It's also one to share with others. A delightful page turner that calls out for the next installment.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Home in Carolina is the 5th bookin the Magnolia series that Sherryl Woods has created. Once again the characters come to life and an amazing number are intertwined into the main story.

    When I read the Magnolia series I almost feel like part of the group. The characters are so well defined that they seem like real people to me. I want to jump in my car and find Serenity, settle there and become part of the players. What a great read!!

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Another Winner

    This is a wonderful series. After I read the first one I went and and got all the others published so far. Annie & Ty's story went a long way in showing us about forgiveness and giving second chances. I don't know if I could forgive like Annie did, but I'm glad she was able to.

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    Posted July 30, 2010

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    Posted August 4, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2010

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