Review: The Southern Side of Paradise

Review: The Southern Side of ParadiseThe Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Series: Peachtree Bluff #3
Published by Gallery Books on May 7, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 387


FINAL DECISION: I really liked the relationship between the mother and her daughters. I thought the flow of the story worked well, and I especially enjoyed Ansley’s story. However, the plot of the book was too predictable. I had figured out Emerson’s storyline from start to finish by page 40. Ultimately, the whole thing was fine, but the obviousness of everything diminished this book for me a bit.

THE STORY: The story of a widow and her three adult daughters. Ansley Murphy’s life has changed as she reunites with an old lover she has never forgotten. Old secrets, however, have the possibility of upsetting what appears to be happiness in the family. Emerson, Ansley’s youngest daughter, has gotten engaged to her high school sweetheart. Yet, her career in Los Angeles conflicts with her romance and again threatens the relationship. This is the story of a family and the complexities and realities of relationships and life.

OPINION: I liked the book’s main storylines with Ansley and Emerson. Both had some complex issues.

Ansley is involved in a relationship with the man she loved years ago. There are secrets that she and Jack have kept from Ansley’s daughters. The romance between them is messy, and I did enjoy how the book turns from easy answers to the mistakes made in the past. My complaint is that some completely unnecessary outside drama bumped up the emotional complexity. Rather than going deeper into the emotions, the book turns to easily anticipated “surprises” that seem out of place in the depth of emotions.

I appreciated Emerson’s story as well, although it took way too long for the obvious ending to work out, and I felt disappointed that it took so long to get there. I liked the interaction with the sisters, and I did enjoy the overlaps between Emerson and Ansley’s stories.

I thought that the final quarter of the book was really well done. The emotion was there. As things wound up I began to think that perhaps I really did need to read the other books in the series to feel as invested in the story as I needed to.

Perhaps ultimately, there was both too much drama and not enough connection and emotional depth in this book. It is the kind of book that I enjoyed reading. The ending was especially a good payoff emotionally.

WORTH MENTIONING: Spoilers! Characters in this book are involved in cheating (although off the page), and relationships don’t last through the end of the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF PARADISE is the third book in the Peachtree Bluff series. This book can be read as a standalone. I have not read the others in the series and did not feel like I missed anything as to what was happening in the story — except by the end, the book began to feel like a wrap-up, and I knew that there were some emotional moments that I was missing because I hadn’t read the other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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