Friday, December 2, 2022

Ain't She Sweet? by Susan Elizabeth Philips


I'm OBSESSED with how good this was. I found it in the cruise ship's library the day before we left Mexico and I loved it so much I ended up taking it home with me to finish. I actually didn't like my first Susan Elizabeth Philips book that I read because it was one of those '90s romances that ages really badly and I thought the hero was a total douche. But this was absolutely fantastic and I positively ate it up (which just goes to show that sometimes an author deserves a second chance).

Sugar Beth Carey was the Queen Mean Bee of her tiny Missouri town when she was a teenager. And her favorite person to terrorize was the shyest girl in school, Winnie, who also was her illegitimate half-sister. Her second favorite person to terrorize was Colin Byrne, her senior English teacher who was only four years older than some of his students. She ruined Winnie's life and ended up getting Colin fired. Now they both despise her, nursing a grudge against her for over a decade. When Sugar Beth returns to town in disgrace, they can't wait to plan their revenge.

There was just so much about this that I loved. A bad girl redeemed, a heroine who's allowed to be flawed and play dirty and not be nice. A British hero who's a little bit cruel but mostly good-hearted (he reminded me of a nicer version of Gavin from my Horrorscape series, actually; I love a man who comes off as a prude who's dirty in bed). The small town dynamics were done so well, and I loved all the secondary plot threads, like about Winnie's goth-wannabe teenage daughter, Gigi, and her sort of second-chance romance with her husband, when their marriage starts to stagnate. Oh, and bless this author for writing a Black woman and not making her a stereotype (as so many other older contemporary romances tried not to but totally did). I loved that she was a lesbian who ran a bookstore, and how she managed to get her revenge in too. 

Clearly I need to start revisiting some of SEP's other books because I couldn't put this one down and it stressed me out and still left me with a smile. I just bought KISS AN ANGEL by her and can't wait to read it next. This was the most fun I've had with a contemporary romance in AGES.

5 out of 5 stars

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