Sarah Barnwell has returned to Sweetwater, South Carolina following a ten-year hiatus in Charleston. She’s opening a bookstore in the former home of her best friend’s aunt’s home. She’s excited about partnering with her friend, Allison (Allie) Hawbaker who’s had her own tough year but a little nervous about coming back to a place where she had so much heartache. What starts out as an exciting venture soon becomes a challenge when the owner of the house next door returns after a 30-year absence. Tucker Pettigrew is the grandson of the town’s most powerful businessman and he’s prickly, rude and makes no apologies for his bad disposition. Things start off rocky but these two are even more annoyed by their odd attraction to each other.
This story has some of the most clever banter and dialogue I’ve ever read! We figure out pretty quickly that Sarah is smart and witty but Tucker is an enigma for quite some time until the two have deeper interactions. I wasn’t even certain if I was going to like him. But when these two butt heads intellectually, things just get good. I loved their interactions and it’s been a long time since I highlighted so many passages.
There’s a lot more to the story, including some serious and dangerous elements as a childhood bully has become an ugly menace as an adult with his eye on Sarah. The underlying tension was always there and I kept waiting for the next threat to materialize. It wasn’t predictable, which made it that much more suspenseful. There are also a host of well developed secondary characters that add so much flavor to the story. It’s also highly atmospheric, the setting being a critical part of the storyline. I really enjoyed this on every level and am already invested in the outcomes of other characters. O’Neill is one of my auto-buy authors and I just regret it took so long for me to get to this series.
- Release Date: May 5, 2014
- Series: Sweetwater #1
- Page Numbers: 523
- Publisher: Self