Southern Charmedby Melanie Jacobson
Published by Covenant on September 1, 2016
Genres: Adult, LDS, Romance
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Lila Mae Guidry is a Southern girl through and through. As a fourth-generation Latter-day Saint in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she's proud of her heritage as both a Southerner and a Saint—and she doesn't take kindly to people who disparage either. Ten years ago, Max Archer was just that kind of jerk. As the mission president's son, Max spent his entire three years mocking the South . . . and teenage Lila. After Max's family moved away, Lila forgot about her sworn enemy. Almost.
When a new job brings a grown-up Max back to Baton Rouge, Lila is less than thrilled with his reappearance, especially since everyone seems intent on throwing her together with this old adversary. Yet fight as she may, Lila soon realizes resistance is futile—their connection is undeniable. Max embodies everything she wants in a man—except perhaps the most important thing her life is rooted in the city she loves, but his dreams are bigger than Baton Rouge. With such mismatched visions of the future, Max and Lila are faced with a life-altering decision: jeopardize their aspirations or risk losing love.
Southern Charmed will take you right into the bayou with its home cooked food, barefoot walks by the dock, Cajun restaurants and society pages. Melanie Jacobson does a wonderful job of pulling the readers into a world where debutantes have been raised to answer “yes ma’am and sir, where family roots run deep. Lila Mae is beginning to get pressure from her mom to get married and raise grandbabies. Already established in a teaching career at a high school with low income teens, Lila lives at home. Her love for Louisiana runs in her veins, as does her desire to take care of her mother, who is recovering from the loss of her husband. Along comes Max, Lila’s childhood crush to mix things up.
There is a side plot with a student Kiana who has a rough home life. She’s got talent, but with a mom on drugs in and out of the home, she lacks the resources to go to college or make a better life for herself. One girl who wants to launch but may not be able to and her teacher who has opportunity to leave, but wants to stay rooted. I absolutely loved the first half of the book, the world building and the banter between Max and Lila. The drag for me was the inner conflict within Lila. It felt a bit drawn out. I saw hints things would work out on their own, but one character was forced to compromise. This book is reminiscent of Melanie’s other works with strong lead women characters, and some non-profit and political undertones. My favorite element of her writing is the clean romance.
You will want to visit the South after reading this book just to sample the food!
Melanie Bennett Jacobson is an avid reader, amateur cook, and champion shopper. She lives in Southern California with her husband and children and a series of doomed houseplants, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in writing for children and young adults.