Title: Where Azaleas Bloom by Sherryl Woods
The Sweet Magnolias Book Ten
Imprint: Harlequin MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
Single mom Lynn Morrow is determined to put food on the table for her son and daughter. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband has failed to meet his obligations time and again—but it turns out that Ed is struggling with his own demons.
Enter contractor Mitch Franklin, an unlikely knight in shining armor. A widower with two grieving sons, Mitch once admired Lynn from afar. Now he sees in her not only the sweet girl who got away, but a woman desperately in need of support. While rushing to the rescue of Lynn and her children comes naturally to Mitch, he’s also wise enough to encourage Lynn to find her own way…hopefully straight into his arms.
Part of The Sweet Magnolias series, and the final installment of this summer’s trilogy, Sherryl Woods’ Where Azaleas Bloom is a heartfelt and tender romance. My personal favorite of the three novels, it is a wonderful story of friendship, love and new beginnings as Lynn Morrow and Mitch Franklin slowly fall in love in the midst of Lynn’s impending divorce.
Lynn Morrow is not only reeling from the unexpected divorce from her husband Ed, she is struggling financially when her soon to be ex falls behind on his financial obligations. With few job opportunities, she is working several part time jobs to make ends meet and achieve financial independence. Although she is angry with Ed and deeply hurt by his actions, she puts aside her feelings and encourages her children to maintain their relationship with their father. Lynn shows admirable strength as she regains her independence, but she also lets her pride sometimes get the better of her. She also has some baggage from her past that interferes with her burgeoning relationship with Mitch.
Mitch Franklin is a fabulous character. Still grieving the death of his wife, he is a kind, considerate, loyal and infinitely patient man. He has a wonderful relationship with his college aged sons, although they are not quite prepared for their father to begin dating again. Mitch is understanding of Lynn’s need to take a slow approach to their relationship. While he is willing to let Lynn set the pace for the most part, he is no pushover. He is persistent when he needs to be, but he also knows when to back off.
Although not part of the Sweet Magnolias circle of friends, Lynn is quickly and warmly welcomed into their group. They offer her unconditional support and friendship just when she needs it most. One of the best aspects of The Sweet Magnolias series is how open and caring the characters are and how they are always willing to welcome newcomers into their fold.
Some of the subplots from the other books in the trilogy are resolved in Where Azaleas Bloom. Frances’ health continues to deteriorate, much to Liz and Flo’s dismay and decisions must be made regarding Frances’ living arrangements. A romantic entanglement featuring one of the older women is a wonderful reminder that love is not just for the young.
The resolution of Lynn and Ed’s divorce is very well done and carries a powerful message of forgiveness. I figured out pretty early on how that part of the storyline would play out, but I liked how Lynn and Ed worked things out between them.
Sherryl Woods is a long time favorite author of mine, and Where Azaleas Bloom is the perfect example of why. She brings her readers novels with realistic storylines about timely issues and true to life characters with believable flaws and imperfections. Ms. Woods always takes the time for her characters to get to know not only one another, but themselves as well. I always savor the slow buildup of emotions and I rejoice in the love that they find.
If you enjoy novels with close friendships, a tight-knit community and a sweet romance, you will love Where Azaleas Bloom. It can be read as a standalone novel, but with an author this talented, you will find yourself buying all the other books in The Sweet Magnolias series.
Read my reviews of the other books in the series HERE.