Title: Love, Alabama
Author: Susan Sands
Series: Alabama #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Emma Laroux’s life is nearly perfect. She lives in the small town of Ministry, Alabama, where she grew up, surrounded by family and friends, and owns a thriving pageant-coaching business. Emma almost never concerns herself with the town gossip that she’s a has-been former beauty queen, admittedly a gorgeous one.
Television director Matthew Pope wonders what kind of karmic sin he’s committed along the way that takes him from Manhattan and lands him back here in Podunk, Alabama, not two hours from his own home town full of bad blood and disastrous memories, to direct a new Southern cooking show for the network.
Matthew recognizes Emma as the former Miss Alabama he’d rescued from a difficult and desperate situation ten years before. Emma doesn’t recognize Matthew because she’d been drugged at a frat party that night.
Tad Beaumont, the mayor of Ministry, Alabama, is Emma’s ex-boyfriend and a controlling narcissist, and unbeknownst to Emma, has manipulated circumstances, making certain Emma’s dating relationships have never progressed.
Matthew helps Emma realized what’s been missing from her life as they discover a deep connection and budding relationship. A huge sin of omission and Tad’s well-placed lies and manipulations might cost them their future together.
Can Emma forgive and learn to trust Matthew after ten years of keeping men at arm’s length?
Can Matthew overcome his weighty emotional baggage after returning home to face his own demons of the past?
Source: ARC from the author via email
The one thing I remember from the first book in this series (Again, Alabama) was how intrigued I was by Emma, so I was delighted to get the chance to read her story, while revisiting this town and the Laroux family. And on the whole I’m glad I did, because I really liked Emma, even if I was a little baffled by how she’d not noticed how creepy Tad had manipulated her life for so long.
Emma’s a great character. She’s about so much more than her beauty. She’s sassy and smart and strong and determined, and she doesn’t date. She has exceedingly good reasons for this and some serious trust issues because of her past, but despite interference and pressure from her family, I liked that she’d made peace with that. Well, mostly.
Until along came Matthew. I found him a little harder to pin down, and not just because he’s keeping secrets. He’s a messed up guy. On the one hand he has understandable neuroses and issues, on the other he is determined to be “manly” at all times. I found some aspects of his character really hard to marry together. He is messed up and confusing, and although his romance with Emma is cute, he has some serious head work to do on himself.
The rest of the plot meanders about, with a family wedding to plan for (though just how many times did we need to know about Maeve’s different father? It came up every time Maeve or Maureen or the new husband was mentioned in the early chapters) and creepy Tad being super, super creepy. Emma also makes a few friends – which was nice because it showed that not all women are awful – and Matthew has some family stuff to deal with. It’s slow at times and winds about in a seemingly aimless fashion, but it does have an end goal and the longer it went on the more intrigued I was to find out just how certain things would turn out.
Okay, if I’m honest Emma kind of let me down at the end because I expected more fight from her, and Matthew let things go on way too long at times, but overall this was nice. There’s family drama, a cute romance and plenty of Southern charm to move things along. I’ll admit the writing style doesn’t always work for me (too much erroneous detail at times, and too many characters taking POV without a good reason), but on the whole it’s an easy read that can be enjoyed on summer evenings and lazy afternoons. Looks like little brother is up next. I suspect that one will be very interesting indeed.
Love, Alabama is Out Now!
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