From the publisher's webpage: "Secrets can be funny things. We think they keep us safe, but more often than not, they spill out when we least expect and make a mess out of everything. It's a truth Scarlett Jo Newberry knows all too wellÃ¢â¬âa truth Grace Shepherd and Zach Craig are about to learn the hard way. As the lives of this boisterous pastor's wife, polished news anchor, and beleaguered divorce attorney intersect in the tree-lined streets of Franklin, Tennessee, scandal threatens to topple their carefully constructed worlds. Grasping at survival, they embark on a journey of friendship and courage, desperate to find a way back to laughter, love, and life."
I immediately loved this book from the first chapter. I really enjoyed the way she describes every character. I especially loved the character of Scarlett Jo. I really identified with her. My favorite paragraph early on in the book,"But Scarlett Jo thought it was something else. It was because, for the most part, she was nothing but herself. What you saw was what you got. It had taken her a long time and a lot of pain to get there. And people responded to that." when referring to why she generally made friends easily and got along with others. I love the fullness of the characters.
Serious issues were portrayed with humor and tact. When I saw the title, I thought this book would be about gossip, but quite the contrary. There certainly was a lot of sweet tea, but it fit into the story well. The ladies learned to communicate, to deal with the past, and to allow friendship to grow. There was thought-provoking advice on how to guard the heart. The secrets and trials of all the characters were given quite a sensitive and lovely treatment by this author. Even a man's point of view was given, and issues were resolved in a touching way. I thought the characters were real, human, multi-faceted, and likeable. I cannot say it better than Denise Hildreth Jones: "The journey was at times excruciating. The joys, however, have been breathtaking."
At first, the characters can be difficult to keep track of (see my list below). I enjoyed the book and loved Scarlett Jo's ability to say and do almost anything and that she cared so much. Her exercise class comments are hilarious!! The book should've included some recipes, the desserts sound so good it would be good to bake them while you're reading.
I liked how Grace and Tyler handled each of their situations, turning to God and waiting on Him. But I'm not sure Grace should have gone as far as she did. I'm not sure about the "reclaiming" your heart part. On the surface it makes sense but I could see it being pushed to an unbiblical perspective. I would need to look into the non-fiction book she's written, Reclaiming Your Heart, to fully recommend this concept.
Scarlett Jo - married to Jackson (a pastor) and has 5 boys.
Grace - married to Tyler (a professional hockey player) and has no children though she'd like them.
Miss Daisy - Grace's dog.
Rachel - best friend to Grace.
Zach - married to Caroline and has 2 daughters (twins) but is having an affair.
Denise Hildreth Jones combines the stories of Scarlett Jo, Jackson, Rachel, Grace, Tyler, Zach & Caroline into one terrific read. Grace, Zach & Caroline must overcome their brokenness and discover their own path in life with help from Rachel, Jackson, and the lovely vibrant Scarlett Jo who must overcome her own past which she thought was buried deep.
I loved Scarlett Jo and was disappointed the book ended.
I loved this book; makes me thirsty for some good old Southern Sweet Tea. What struck me the most in this book was the emphasis on finding your own heart. Until you know who you are and where you are headed, you will find it hard to help someone else or even resolve relationship issues. I have to love Scarlet Jo who was as authentic as they came; but even she needed to remember her heart and the hearts of those around her so she could pick up the pieces and move on. It was a good read for me for the stage in life I am in right now. It has helped me to want to know my own heart and to live passionately and authentically.