Thursday, May 10, 2018

Book Review: The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Gallery
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Slightly South of Simple
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Leaving fans “practically [begging] for a sequel” (Bookpage), critically acclaimed author Kristy Woodson Harvey returns with the second novel in her beloved Peachtree Bluff series, featuring a trio of sisters and their mother who discover a truth that will change not only the way they see themselves, but also how they fit together as a family.  After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve.  Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.  But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all."

Things pick up where Slightly South of Simple left off. Sloane is going through a really, really tough time as her husband, who is in the military, is missing in action overseas.  It's obviously a nightmare for Sloane; she can barely function let alone take care of her two young boys, but thankfully she can lean on her mom, Ansley, and her two sisters who are also in Peachtree Bluff.  Regarding Ansley, she has pushed away the love of her life for various reasons, but one major reason is that it's very complicated. And to complicate matters even further, Ansley's mother, the girls' grandmother, has come to live with them for the time being.  There's also Caroline, who is trying to rebuild her marriage, and Emerson, who is still pursuing her acting career, but things also get complicated for her as well.  Meanwhile, readers know Ansley's major secret she is hiding from her girls and we can't help but worry what might happen if they find out the truth.  Kirsty Woodson Harvey's The Secret to Southern Charm is a fantastic beach read that tugged on my heartstrings. There's romance, family drama, secrets, and life-altering moments that will impact all the women's lives irrevocably.

I love all of the women in this family and I adore that Harvey features multi-generational relationships in The Secret to Southern Charm. I was rooting for Ansley from the beginning and I had my fingers crossed that she would start to take some risks personally as her happiness is just as important as her girls'. The flashbacks to her younger years with Jack really helped develop her as a character.

What Sloane goes through in The Secret to Southern Charm was really devastating. I think Harvey was able to capture this type of grief that is all encompassing and I liked how Sloane slowly pieces her life back together with the help of her sisters and mother.  Caroline and Emerson's stories are also interesting in this sequel, but not as compelling as Sloane's.  Also, I enjoyed the girls' grandmother so very much. She especially tugged on my heartstrings in this novel. It made me long for my own grandmother and our long talks. All in all, Harvey truly gets female relationships and is able to depict them very well.

One of my favorite aspects of The Secret to Southern Charm is the coastal small town setting. It's so memorable and vivid; it's the kind of dreamy Southern town that you'd want to go to relax and unwind.  

If you are looking for a beach read that has a lot of heart and deals with family issues, you must check out the Peachtree Bluff series, especially if you love Southern fiction.  


  1. This book pretty much hit all the requirements for a good beach read!

    Lovely review, Christina!

    1. I know, right?! I really enjoy this series. Thanks for dropping by, Joy!


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