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Ain't She Sweet?    by Susan Elizabeth Phillips order for
Ain't She Sweet?
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Sugar Beth Carey left Parrish Mississippi with many a broken heart and ruined reputation hanging from her Gucci belt. College, various failed relationships (including three marriages) have brought Sugar Beth back home, alone, broke and without fanfare. She's hoping to reverse her miserable turn of fortune by finding a priceless painting that her grandmother left her.

Her situation takes an even darker turn when Sugar Beth discovers that an old nemesis, Colin Byrne, now owns Frenchman's Bride, her family home where the painting lies hidden. During her high school days, the newly recruited, 'arty' English teacher was an easy mark for Sugar Beth and even easier to ruin. But the tides have turned. Colin, now rich and powerful, has waited a very long time to bring Sugar Beth to her knees. And he isn't the only one who'd like to see Sugar Beth taken down a couple of pegs. The 'Sea Willows', Sugar Beth's high school girlfriends, can't wait to see their former leader eat crow. And Winnie Davis is eager to see her half sister humiliated in the same way the once painfully shy, dowdy teenager was by Sugar Beth while they were growing up.

Sugar Beth has learned a thing or two since her high school days, most importantly that treating people like dirt eventually comes back to bite you in the -- posterior. She's prepared for the personal swipes, including those from Colin, who's a veritable champ in the attitude and biting sarcasm department. She's no slouch with the wisecracks either, but she's desperate for money to keep her mentally challenged stepdaughter in a private facility. Since nobody in town will hire her except Colin, she agrees to work as his maid. Now he's got Sugar Beth right where he wants her; at his beck and call and ready to receive the utter humiliation she so richly deserves. But Colin, who wants revenge in the worst possible way, discovers the real woman hidden beneath all the wisecracks and bravado. To his utter horror and then utter delight, he finds he can't resist this undiscovered side of Sugar Beth Carey.

She is initially a character you want to dislike, the classic (and stereotypical) 'spoiled little rich bitch' who always gets her way, often at the expense of others. She doesn't even like her dog, Gordon, and keeps encouraging the lonely basset hound to 'run away'. Not a great way for an author to endear a lead character to readers. But Susan Elizabeth Phillips makes it work, revealing a woman who's learned from her mistakes and is trying to make peace with herself and those she's wronged. Ain't She Sweet? is a poignant, often humorous, thoroughly entertaining gem you shouldn't miss.

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