Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Secret to Southern Charm Book Review

I have written time and time again on the blog about how much I love the south, so I will keep it brief and try not to bore you with oodles and oodles of gush. The recap would be that, although born in Oregon, I moved to Louisiana at 15, and am in love with pretty much all things Southern (yes, I can think of bad things also but I prefer to think of the good...). The South has snared my heart, and although there's a huge section of the Southern United States that I haven't yet visited, we'll just label me a Southern Living subscription holding fan.

When a blogging friend reached out and asked if I, a) liked Southern fiction, b) didn't mind chick lit/beachy reads, and c) would like to read her friend's book that would be coming out in April...I jumped all over it! And when said book arrived signed by the author, I swooned in true southern-belle style. 😂 (I'm trying to paint a picture for y'all...) I truly haven't got used to signed books...and still lose my shit over them.

The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey is the second installment of the Peachtree Bluff Series, and has a release date of April 3rd, 2018. I hadn't read the first in the series, but it didn't keep me from following the story...although I purchased it as soon as I finished this one. I also asked the author if she's working on a book 3, and thank the heavens above, she is.

The book begins with Sloane hiding away in the room that belongs to her at her mother's house in Peachtree Bluff, succumbing to grief after finding out that her military husband is missing in action during a deployment. Her two little boys are being looked after by her mother Ansley, and her two sisters Caroline and Emerson. After hiding away in there for a month, re-reading love letters and watching home movies, she's finally talked into returning to her life for the sake of her boys and the love of her family.

Ansley has her hands full with all three grown kids at home for the summer, and care-taking for both her grandchildren and her aging mother who moved in. She loves nothing more than being there to help her family, which is the most important thing to her, even if it's put a kink in both the time spent at her design firm and her love life. She's told her old beau that she can't see him anymore, that her hands are full with her kids...but there's more to it than that. Although her girls think of her as being the most vanilla woman around, she's keeping a secret from her past that she's convinced could destroy her present.

The novel is told from both Ansley and Sloane's point of view, and through their day to day living and memories of days past, we're left wondering what their futures will look like. Will Sloane be able to move on in her life? Will she ever get closure, and will people stop thinking she's delusional for believing her husband is still alive? Will Ansley decide her happiness is just as important as her children's? And are there communities out there as lovely in real life as Peachtree Bluff????

I absolutely adored this book. I have to be honest with you, when it starts off with a deployment missing in action situation, as a military wife, I braced myself for one of two things. Either it wouldn't feel realistic to me, as I've found a lot of fictionalized military life to be so far away from my real world experiences that it's turned me off what might've been a great story. Or it would hit so close to home and real world military wife worries that I wouldn't be able to read it. To me, the story was closer to real world but mixed so beautifully in a story of family and love that it made it readable. I'm pretty sure every military wife has wondered if they'd be able to tell if something had happened to their husband while they were deployed. Would you wake up in the middle of the night and just know? I felt like the depiction of military life and deployment living was really accurate, down to the hidden credit card bill from buying your children thing to make up for their daddy being gone. I can SO relate.

Along with the military story line, I loved everything about Peachtree Bluff, and this family. They are not all perfect, and holy cow have the girls underestimated the life their mother has lived! But the town reminds me of a southern Stars Hollow (of Gilmore Girls fame)...a place that seems so perfect, it can only live in fiction. The minor characters were wonderful and fully fleshed out, the setting painted with vivid colors, and Lord if I could have my last birthday be like the Grammy's!!

This book is definitely sweet tea and sunshine wrapped up in binding, with a pretty lady in her swimsuit on the cover. Once again I'd say that I'm probably gravitating towards the more lighthearted books at the moment because I'm yearning for summer, and my mind isn't in the right place for thrillers and suspense. But I read this book cover to cover in one sitting, staying up WAY past my bedtime in the process, and immediately gushing on twitter (at like 3 am) that I LOVED it. I think you'll definitely enjoy it if you're a fan of Southern books and settings, beachy reads, and books that cover family dynamics and mother/daughter relationships.

A huge thanks again to Kristy Woodson Harvey for sending me The Secret to Southern Charm! I can't wait to read Slightly South of Simple...even if it means reading the books out of order. I need more Ansley and her daughters.

I hope everyone is doing well this week! I am a little off my game, so not as many Instagram posts and I didn't film the videos I intended to. My sweet Bella dog is having issues with her back legs, so we're doing the whole pain meds until x-rays can be done thing. That combined with some family members having health issues, and not being close to home, has made for a slightly melancholy Christina. I've eaten more points than I should have. I haven't moved my body enough, or done the self-care that I should have. Really the only thing I've kept up with is my Bible reading. I attach this to the end of my blog post to say that enough is enough, and I'm publicly stating I'm ending this funk now. Next week is Spring Break and I'll have my daughter and two of her best friends here...which should be a blast! So, no more depressed me. That being said, please send some oomph, prayers and positive thoughts our direction if you could...because I can use all the help I can get!!
 *This site uses affiliate links


  1. I love everything about this review. Thank you so much! I have lost major sleep over the task of portraying what a military wife must go through, so I can't even tell you how much it means to me that you were able to connect with that story line. Thanks so much to you and your family for your service!! xoxo Kristy

    1. I honestly had wondered if your family had a military background because I thought it was pretty spot on! Kudos to you for capturing the camaraderie of spouses, especially during deployments, and the struggles that can come as a mother when Dad is gone all the time.

  2. This review is EVERYTHING. I love that you loved it so much :)

  3. Thank you SO MUCH for getting this book to me!!!

  4. This was the second book of hers that i have read. Really enjoyed it. Takes me a minute to get into them- but now i kind of know how she writes and can get hooked more easily. Good Mindless entertainment.