|Lifelong friendships, communities where everyone knows everyone, families who grow up together with other families…these are all the joys of living in a small town. Sherryl Woods takes us back to Serenity, South Carolina to her second generation of families. The three Magnolias – Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue were featured in previous stories. Now we have Annie, Sarah and Raylene. Home In Carolina features Annie (daughter to Dana Sue and Ronnie) and Ty (son to Maddie, who is divorced from Ty’s dad and married to Cal).
Ty and Annie were best friends and dated throughout high school, and even in college when they were separated. Ty became a Major League pitcher for the Atlanta Braves and several years ago, he got caught up in the glamour of the sports world. He cheated with a lot of the groupies, getting one pregnant. This caused a major scandal and the end of his relationship with Annie. Ty is the proud papa of a three-year-old, Trevor, who he has been raising by himself. Trevor’s mother, DeeDee, dumped Trevor outside his hotel room with a note saying she was leaving him for Ty to raise. Ty has full custody and with the help of a full-time nanny, has raised Trevor. At three, Trevor is just starting to become his own little person. Ty is also in the midst of a crisis. He hurt his shoulder and has come home to Serenity to spend some time with his mother, Cal, and their kids and to rehab his shoulder.
Annie is a sports therapist and works for Maddie at her spa. She was devastated when Ty cheated but admits it was made worse when the scandal sheets spread it all over about the pregnancy. She had always dreamed that she and Ty would have children and now that dream is bust. She has mixed feelings when she discovers Ty is back – she hates him, she still loves him, she is angry that her friends and family didn’t tell her, and she is not at all certain how to react to him. To top it off, her friend Sarah has just returned to town with two kids in tow and a story of a failed marriage. Her other friend, Raylene, has been uncommunicative but as she is soon to discover, Raylene is an abused wife. Life is very complicated.
The town is filled with characters who all have an opinion, too. Beyond Cal, there are the other Magnolia husbands – Erik and Ronnie. Ronnie is Annie’s dad and despite some mistakes he had made in his past, he isn’t sure if he is ready to trust that Ty has changed Erik, on the other hand, being more newly in love with Helen, can see how much Ty loves Annie and he leans to that side of the fence.
Ty and Annie’s story has a lot of stops and starts. Having read some of the previous stories, I remembered some of the drama that is regurgitated as backstory and there is some I don’t remember. But Woods does a good job of filling in the blanks when she had to. However, that need to fill in those blanks definitely takes away from the romance of Ty and Annie. Hence, this story is more a generational story that a single love story.
I liked Ty and Annie and could see both sides of their romance. When DeeDee pops up, complications abound and the Magnolias and their spouses become even more involved. This story kept me reading and overall, I was rooting for their happy-ever-after even as I was intrigued by the setup to Sarah’s story.
Home In Carolina is definitely a tale for those who are familiar with Woods’ series, but I think even a new reader can catch up pretty quickly and be entertained.