In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.
Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.
But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.
I did a brief review of this book in my January Wrap-Up, but I wanted to do a more extensive review, because I think it deserves it. It was a really cute book, a fast read, and I love anything southern, so...I gave this book 5/5 Stars! As always, this review won't contain spoilers until after the jump.
Magnolia is the first book by Kristi Cook that I have read, even though I own her Haven Series. But this book description has caught my attention over and over, and I actually ordered a signed/personalized copy of this book from the author's ApollyCon sale--but that doesn't arrive for a couple more weeks. When the book was listed as the Kindle Deal of the Day (an announcement was tweeted by the author almost a week in advance, and I'm not joking, I marked it on my calendar), I snatched the Kindle book up for $1.99!
I then immediately read it in one night.
Seriously, I started this book at 8:00 PM, and finished it at 3:30 AM.
I have a problem.
But the issue is not this book. For starters, I'm a fan of absolutely any relationship that involves the main ship hating each other. I will read ANYTHING with the premise. So I knew I'd like that part. Second, I was raised southern. In fact, prior to my parents, not a single member of my family going back to the groups that originally emigrated here, lived above the Mason Dixon line. That's kind of a big deal. So, trust me when I say, I'm pretty certain that Kristi Cook wrote this book for me.
To start, the main character, Jemma, is hilarious. And she's pretty real. Kristi Cook shows a strong talent in this book for being able to actually write the inside of a teenager's head. Jemma was engaging and fun to read about, which helped me want to keep reading...until 3 AM.
I really enjoyed the use, or rather, lack of use with explanation of cell phones. I kind of hate when I'm reading any book set in a time with technology that the author doesn't address it. Jemma lets us know when she's using her phone, or when it's unavailable and why--dead battery, etc. I like that. Explain it to me, otherwise I'll be annoyed and think the author just forgot it existed.
As the description states, Jemma and Ryder are thrown together at pretty much every turn, but they do everything they can to swear off the other one. They aren't hiding their feelings either--they don't appear to like each other at all, even in the character's thoughts. But then a great big southern storm comes in and forces them together.
I can speak from experience, Kristi Cook wrote the southern aspects of this book very well. Let me tell you how many times I saw my momma and aunts speaking straight off these pages! A bunch! And I loved every second of it. I also loved that Cook allowed bad things to happen! I cannot get enough of an author letting characters suffer when its necessary and when it builds the story. This book, as a whole, was believable with good pacing.
That's all I'm saying in terms of non-spoilers, if you've read it, you can check out my spoiler-filled discussion after the jump! If you haven't read it, go read it. Serious, apparently it can be done in a matter of hours, and you won't regret it--at least I didn't.
As I said in the non-spoiler section, I loved that Cook didn't leave a lot to chance her. She addresses everything that needs to be addressed--why they two characters dislike each other, why they are left alone in the middle of a natural disaster, that Jemma's phone is dead, that Jemma is an all-star shot and that's why she shot the snake, that she doesn't just break up with her boyfriend--HE DIES!
Gah! This book had everything, and Jemma had some bad luck...but then again, she got to end up with Ryder...so maybe she had good luck?
Let's just go through some of the stuff that goes down, shall we?
First, Jemma's sister having a tumor is a very interesting side-story. I enjoyed that a lot. I think it helped add to the plot, it gave an excuse for Jemma's parents to be out of town with her at the hospital. I also think that the emotional distress that this caused helped explain away some of Jemma's more extreme actions and thoughts--i.e. completely giving up on NYU suddenly.
I think that Jemma and her friends dating multiple people in their friend group over the course of the story is absolutely accurate and something I could very much relate to. It's small town life ya'll. That's how it works--everyone has dated everyone else, and there aren't as many hard feelings as you'd expect.
I love the intensity of the storm, and the fact that it was so real. I've been in those things, I know that "end of the world/nothing is happening" dynamic. It was well-written, and used to the writer's advantage.
At the end, I love that they go to New York together. I love that it was Ryder's plan all along. I love that they fight over it.
Finally, just in case you can't tell, I just loved and devoured this book. I highly recommend it.