Lee Ann London once had big plans…scholarship, college, love. Then she found herself raising her deceased sister’s twin girls when their father disappeared. Now, with her beautiful girls, a community that depends on her, and her photography studio finally taking off, Lee Ann may not have the life she’d imagined, but it’s definitely where she wants it.
Until Cody, her bad-boy ex, returns to Sugar Springs…
Cody’s childhood put a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas. Bouncing around the foster care system, he was always the one to leave before anyone left him first. Then he found a place he wanted to stick. Lee Ann was the best thing that ever happened to him. Only, he hurt her. Bad.
He’s back now, and determined to earn her forgiveness…and maybe win back her love while he’s at it.
And here is Smokey's review:
Lee Ann London turned down a college scholarship to raise her deceased half-sister's twin daughters with help from her mother and a few friends in Sugar Springs, Tennessee. The twins' father has no idea that he is a parent. In fact, Cody Dalton left town on the night he impregnated Lee Ann's sister while expressing his inner criminal by stealing a truck, pulling down a statue in the town square and breaking a hardware store window.
13 years later the twins are ready to celebrate their birthday. Cody Dalton has returned to Sugar Springs to work a stint as an itinerant veterinarian. Dr. Dalton does not know he is the father of these girls and Lee Ann is not sure she wants him to learn this information. After all, Cody broke his promise to remain faithful to her and go with her to college in Knoxville. Also, Lee Ann's sister made a deathbed statement saying Cody had told her that he wanted nothing to do with his children. What does good girl Lee Ann do about this situation?
I looked forward to reading a story that did not include inhumanly strong and possibly immortal characters in fantastic settings. A narrative that develops personal connections in a peaceful setting with a low profanity factor and zero supernatural intervention is a good summer read for me. Sugar Springs meets my low-stress expectation. That is all that recommends it for me.
Author Kim Law places her low-action novel in five or so time-tested settings such as the gossip centers of the beauty shop and town diner. Nothing but gossip happens most of the time. There are a few soap opera moments that kick the plot forward. The father has secret babies (twins!) One night of juvenile delinquency (Cody Dalton leaves in a hurry to seal his reputation as a bad seed!) A mistaken identity crisis (twins again!) Followers of soap operas will like this well-written book and enjoy how town characters take decades to discuss and digest surprise events.
The secret baby situation is not dragged out too long and many of the town's wise women give great advice to Lee Ann. Lee Ann always goes against wise advice as her first choice of action. Cody, in contrast, matures. Well he has spent 13 years away from Sugar Springs. He takes the traveling animal doctor job in Sugar Springs with the intention of mending matters. Cody works at this task and does a good job of forging connections with his children and re-working the links to his forever love, Lee Ann. He missteps along his way but both Lee Ann and the town's residents help him adjust to his children and rehabilitate his bad reputation.
What makes this a bad story for me is the character of Lee Ann London. Lee Ann is described as honest, hard-working, intelligent and a great mother. In fact she even describes herself as a near saint. But she is a near idiot for most of the story. On the night she found Cody rising undressed from a couch containing slutty Stephanie Lee Ann London decided to never forgive and never forget. She also must have made up her mind to never learn and never change.
As soon as young Dalton has cleared town Lee Ann accepts her broken heart and gives up any idea of a life for herself. Lee Ann also gives up thinking as a coping technique. Though her sister Stephanie has always hated her, lied to her, and blamed her for just about anything. Lee Ann believes Stephanie's death bed statement. Oh yes, that statement. Stephanie has told Cody about her pregnancy and told Lee Ann he has verbally abdicated all father responsibilities. Then Stephanie dies.
Lee Ann repetitiously thinks about her sister's unbroken record of lies and keeps telling herself that the dying statement is a truth. Ms. London convinces herself that she has searched for Cody after the twins birth and he can't be found. She is delusional. Her “search” was one Internet search for him when Stephanie's twins were about one year old. Now come on, this search would have used the Internet in about 2001 which was not a great time to electronically stalk biological fathers. Lee Ann's idea of a second search happens when the twins are about three and she finds the name 'Cody Dalton' in a telephone book for another state. She does not call that number. I can usually overlook weird items like happening to have out-of-state phone books lying about a house. I cannot overlook that a character described as honest and truthful and smart believes that these make a good effort to find the girls' father.
Cody grew up after leaving town. For the most part. He is still trapped by parts of his 18 year-old self. For example, he believes that he is a Sugar Springs delinquent because he broke windows and destroyed statues. And he misses maturity as he completely overlooks the “I slept with your sister” aspect of his juvenile behavior. One window and one statue and he brands himself as a delinquent for life. One time sex and he believes this behavior is okay because he was angry and drunk. Since the window-busting and sex happened the same night I can only put his thinking down to the male jerk gene. Good thing his kids are female.
Well Cody has matured enough so that when Never Tells A Lie Lee Ann blows a good moment to tell him about the girls' paternity he questions matters further. Perhaps the girls' double-jointed limbs, a trait he has, plus a few other shared genetic features give him some clues. The good vet gets his perfect angel to speak the truth. He immediately provides financial support and works at knowing his kids. At least one person in this romantic relationship makes an effort to talk and make things right. I suppose Cody's excuse for having that he had sex with her sister was because he was in a bad mood does not cut it with Lee Ann but at least the guy says something.
This book is the first of a series. That end-of-book misunderstanding is the next book. I hope the next book's characters leave town immediately and avoid repetitious thoughts where talking to someone who has facts would get a truth. At least I know this is not a series I have any interest in reading. Don't get me wrong. This is not a bad book. It's for someone else.