Book Review – The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey


The Secret to Southern Charm
Kristy Woodson Harvey
April 3, 2018
ISBN: 10: 1501158104

BOOK BLURB: Critically-acclaimed author Kristy Woodson Harvey returns with the second novel in her beloved Peachtree Bluff series, featuring a trio of sisters and their mother who discover a truth that will change not only the way they see themselves, but also how they fit together as a family.

After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve.

Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.

“Harvey’s signature warmth and wit make this a charming and poignant story of first loves, missed opportunities, and second chances and proves that she is the next major voice in Southern fiction.” (Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author).

REVIEW: Visiting the women at Peachtree Bluff in Kristy Woodson Harvey’s series set in a North Carolina coastal town is like taking a trip to visit old friends. I read the first book in the series, Slightly South of Simple, and eagerly looked forward to the next book. In some ways the stories and the characters remind me of Little Women. While all related, the sisters in the Peachtree Bluff Series, as well as Ansley, are as varied in personality and character traits as the  women in the Louisa May Alcott book.

There are numerous threads of plot that were established in the first book, and they are deftly pulled together in this second one. Slightly South of Simple ended shortly after Sloane’s husband was reported missing in action in Iraq. In this book we readers learn that Sloane’s husband is still missing, and we get to see how Sloane works through being totally immobilized with worry and grief until she is finally able to start painting again.

The love and support, and challenges, that the various family members give to Sloane are all part of her healing process.

That same love and support is given to Ansley as she deals with the illness of her mother and by  Jack’s ultimatum that she decide whether she can love him or not. Actually, loving him is not the question. The question is, can she take the step into trying to make a life with him and tell her girls the truth about their past?

The supporting characters of Kyle and Hap and Sandra and Emily, and all of the people in Peachtree Bluff that have walked in and out of the lives of the central characters continue to do so. Seeing them again reminded me of the small town where I had been living where I always saw familiar faces in the stores, in the restaurants, and in the coffee shop. Like the people in Peachtree Bluff, those people in my small town knew everyone, supported each other through difficult times and helped celebrate the good times.

Kristy Woodson Harvey always provides a feel-good story even if there are sad things that happen and difficult things that have to be faced, but somehow you can relate to the people and cheer them on and celebrate when they come through to the other end. The writing is smooth and flows so easily, making it such a pleasure to read that it’s hard to put the book down until it is finished. The story is told with different characters taking center stage in alternating chapters, and the device works well. There is none of that clunky recap of previous chapters that we sometimes see in a book using this style.

And just what is the Southern Charm and the secret? Granny says it is all in the accent, using just the right amount of Southern Lady drawl. But Sloane is convinced it is in “… Putting on a brave face, carrying on, helping others, being kind and humble and giving, believing with all your heart that the world could be a better place and that maybe you could make it that way… That was southern charm. And maybe it wasn’t a secret at all.”

We could all use a big dose of Southern Charm.

The Secret to Southern Charm is available from your local Bookstore, AmazonBarnes & Noble TargetBooks-a-MillionIndiebound and wherever books are sold! It is being simultaneously released in paperback, hardback, e-book and audio, so check out your favorite version! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kristy Woodson Harvey is a born-and-bred North Carolina girl who loves all four seasons—especially fall in Chapel Hill, where she attended college, and summer in Beaufort, where she and her family spend every free moment. The author of Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love, Kristy is also the founder of the popular interior design blog Design Chic. You can follow Kristy on her website – Facebook Twitter and Pinterest She can also be found on Instragram as  @kristywharvey

3 thoughts on “Book Review – The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey”

  1. Maryann – enjoyed your review of Kristy Harvey. I love book reviews and would like to learn how to write and give voice reviews. I have done a little research into finding information on how to write a review, but have found very little, practically nothing. Would you have any suggestions. Thanks for a reply.
    Olga Oliver

    1. Olga, I have never done voice reviews, so I have nothing to offer there. Regarding the written reviews, I learned a long time ago by studying reviews and following the basic formats. Also, I was working for newspapers and had specific requirements form those individual publications.

      The format I follow now with my blog and other places where I publish reviews online is to give a short summary of what the book is about, then write what I thought of the story. I do not review books that I cannot endorse. Using the Amazon rating system, I would never post a strong negative review. If the story does not warrant at least 3 stars, I pass on the review, even if an author has send me a copy to review.

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