The girl everybody loves to hate has returned to the town she'd sworn to leave behind forever. As the rich, spoiled princess of Parrish, Mississippi, Sugar Beth Carey had broken hearts, ruined friendships, and destroyed reputations. But fifteen years have passed, and life has taught Sugar Beth its toughest lessons. Now she's come home—broke, desperate, and too proud to show it.
The people of Parrish don't believe in forgive and forget. When the Seawillows, Sugar Beth's former girlfriends, get the chance to turn the tables on her, they don't hesitate. And Winnie Davis, Sugar Beth's most bitter enemy, intends to humiliate her in the worst possible way.
Then there's Colin Byrne. . . . Fifteen years earlier, Sugar Beth had tried to ruin his career. Now he's rich, powerful, and the owner of her old home. Even worse, this modern-day dark prince is planning exactly the sort of revenge best designed to bring a beautiful princess to her knees.
But none of them have reckoned on the unexpected strength of a woman who's learned survival the hard way.
While Sugar Beth's battered heart struggles to overcome old mistakes, Colin must choose between payback and love. Does the baddest girl in town deserve a second chance, or are some things beyond forgiving?
Ain't She Sweet? is a story of courage and redemption. . . of friendship and laughter. . . of love and the possibility of happily-ever-after.
I MET MY HUSBAND
on a blind date. He was in college at the time, studying engineering. I blush to confess that, as an arty ex-theater major, I wasn't exactly sure what engineering was. To this day, he reminds me that I asked him if it had anything to do with "fixing toasters." (Okay, I wasn't too bright, but I had a good heart.)
I GOT PREGNANT
the usual way. Bill and I had been married for two years and wanted to start a family. He was out of town on business the night I went into labor with our first son, but he made it back in time to witness the birth. He was also at my side when our second son was born. Today, our boys are in their twenties and, next to their father, the loves of my life.
I STARTED TO WRITE
completely by accident. I taught high school until our oldest son was born, then quit to stay home. In 1976 my husband's job took us from Ohio to central New Jersey. My best friend Claire lived two doors down the street. Both of us were big readers, reading everything from literary fiction to the newly popular historical romance novels. We loved talking about the books—what we liked, what we didn't. One day, just for fun, we decided to try to write a book together. For three weeks, as we rode our bikes in the evening, with my toddler in the baby seat behind me, we plotted our story. Then we sat down with a yellow pad and began to write.
FOUR HOURS LATER
we'd come up with exactly three sentences. We had no idea how to write a book together, but we were getting a good idea how not to do it. Over the course of the next few months, we worked out a system. We'd get together to plot a scene, frequently role-playing dialogue. Claire would take copious notes, carry them to her typewriter, and come up with a rough draft, which she'd give to me. Sometimes I'd just change a sentence here or there. Other times, I'd throw out all of her hard work and start over again. Somehow our friendship survived.
With only half the manuscript completed, we got the phone number of an editor at Dell Publishing. Sweating bullets, we called her. She was a very nice woman; she asked us some questions about our book, and then agreed to see it, even though it wasn't finished. Unfortunately, she also wanted to see a synopsis. Synopsis? We barely knew what was going to happen in the next chapter, let alone at the end of the book. Knees trembling, we ran to the typewriter and came up with something, then spent the next few weeks typing a fresh copy of our manuscript to mail off.
THREE WEEKS LATER
the telephone rang. It was the editor. "I'm calling from Dell Publishing. We've read your manuscript. We like it. And Dell is prepared to make you an offer."
JUST LIKE THAT…WE'RE PUBLISHED!
I never tell this story at writers' luncheons for fear I'll have to duck flying French rolls thrown by an angry audience. It sounds so easy, but the market was red-hot then, and publishers were hungry for books. Unfortunately, it's not so easy now. It took us another year to finish the book, which was published in 1983 as The Copeland Bride, under the pseudonym Justine Cole. (I wanted to use Chastity Savage, but Claire wouldn't let me.) The book is now out of print, which is probably a good thing because it's not at all politically correct and I'd get deluged with angry letters if it were ever reissued. Still, I'm incredibly proud of it. Considering the fact that neither Claire nor I had ever written so much as a short story, we did a pretty good job, despite a couple of rapes here and there.
ABANDONED AND PREGNANT
(Actually, I wasn't pregnant, but I want to keep your attention in case you're getting bored.) Claire hadn't been bitten as deeply by the writing bug as I had. Her husband was transferred to the Southwest, and her dream of going to law school came true. She is now leading an exciting life as an extremely successful assistant U.S. attorney for one of our border states. I, on the other hand, had to learn how to write a book by myself.
SCARED TO DEATH
I plunged into another historical romance, which was eventually published as Risen Glory and has since been reissued by Avon Books as Just Imagine. This was my first book written as Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and, yes, that's my real name. Writing alone wasn't nearly as much fun as writing with a friend, but I had all these stories tumbling over each other in my head, and I didn't seem to have a choice. I went on to write Glitter Baby, my first women's fiction contemporary novel. Wow! The book had huge international sales and received a lot of attention in this country. I finally had a real career going.
in the Chicago area, I begin writing what I think of now as my "big books," Fancy Pants, Hot Shot, and Honey Moon. I loved these books. A bit more mainstream than what I'm writing now, each one took me at least two years to complete. All were published by Pocket Books and are still in print. As I wrote these books, I discovered my contemporary "voice." Unfortunately, although the books were doing well in the international market, it was taking me so long to write them that American readers didn't know who I was. I had to speed up! Luckily, I was finally developing enough self-confidence in my own abilities to relax a little.
NORA ROBERTS SAYS,
"I can fix a bad page, but I can't fix a blank one." I found the courage to fill my screen with bad pages on those days when my mind was mush, then trust myself to fix them later.
A FOOTBALL PLAYER COMES CALLING
—in my mind, at least. For a long time I'd been wanting to write about a woman who knows nothing about sports and inherits a professional football team. My first romantic comedy, It Had to Be You, was the result. This book carried me to my new publisher, Avon, and reenergized my career.
A GOOD FAIRY WAVES HER MAGIC WAND
Her name is Carrie Feron, and she's the Editorial Director at Avon Books. Thanks to her magic, It Had to Be You; Heaven, Texas; and Kiss an Angel were published within eighteen months of each other. Readers finally knew who I was, and, just when I thought things couldn't get any better, Nobody's Baby But Mine was released. I was signing books at a wonderful store in St. Louis when I got that news that, not only had it landed on the USA Today Top 50 bestseller list, but it was number fifteen! When Dream a Little Dream made the New York Times bestseller list, I was home by myself, which might have been a good thing because no one could hear what a fool I made of myself when I screamed.
IF I'M SUCH A BIG STAR, WHY AM I STILL WASHING DISHES?
Short answer—because they're there! (And nobody else is rushing to do them.) As the boys have left home, I've fallen in love with gardening—planning my garden in the winter and trying to execute those plans in the summer. I'm also an art museum junkie, so if I'm scheduled to come to your city on a book tour, you can bet I'll do my best to squeeze in a few hours at your local art museum. But I'm most happy when I'm wearing a pair of hiking boots and walking a trail somewhere in the world with family or girlfriends. With both sons married to wonderful women, family continues to be at the center of my life. I'll turn off my computer in a second to meet one of our sons for lunch or go off with my husband to romp with our two beautiful grandbabies. I love to travel, but can't let it interfere too much with my writing schedule. A dream trip with Bill walking through Tuscany inspired Breathing Room. I've also taken wonderful "Ladies Only" trips with my darling sister: Bermuda, Northern California, Santa Fe, Paris, London and most recently The Netherlands. In 2005 I hiked segments of the Coast-to-Coast walk across Northern England. Later, I walked through some of the most beautiful hills and villages of the Dordogne Valley in southwestern France, and in August 2007, I took my most challenging hike in Canada's magnificent Banff and Yoho National Parks. Wherever I go, I bring books with me. I love romance and "women's fiction/relationship books" and am a big reader of the genre.
MCSTEAMY'S GORGEOUS EYES
have nothing to do with this last paragraph, but if you're still with me, I want you to know that I do my best to keep my website (susanelizabethphillips.com) fresh. I'm also active on the Message Board. (If you see a post from SEP, you know that's me!) Be sure to sign up for my monthly contest and my newsletter, so I can let you know when my next book will be on the shelves. Now go hug somebody special!read more
great even though it made me cry so much.. read more
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Starts off so bad but I'm a stickler for finishing. Overall great read.read more
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LOVED this book!!! Phillips did a great job with the heroine Sugar Beth. There were time when I really wanted to hate her, but couldn't. I would feel the "pang" of discomfort as some parts, but the pain was eased with love and laughter. Wonderful book!!!!read more
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A small town's prodigal daughter returns to face her past in bestseller Phillips's latest cheeky, diverting fairy tale. Sugar Beth Carey, "the wild child of Parrish, Mississippi," was once the queen of all she surveyed, but after 15 years and three marriages, she's a broken (and broke) husk of her former self. Who's loving the schadenfreude? The Seawillows, for starters-the gaggle of Southern belles Sugar dumped years ago, plus Winnie Davis, the half-sister she treated like dirt. And there's more: not only did Sugar stomp on gorgeous Ryan Galantine's heart (luckily, Winnie caught him on the rebound), she also got Colin Byrne, the sexy British high school teacher, fired for ostensibly coming on to her. Colin now owns her family's manse, and she's inherited the carriage house on his property-along with a highly valuable painting, location unknown (might it be hiding in Colin's attic? Or is it right under her nose?). Phillips keeps the tension high, with Colin (now a successful writer and member of the town's "in" crowd) and all of the rest of Parrish looking to make Sugar pay for past misdeeds. Colin hires her to be his housekeeper, and soon their days are filled with bickering, backstabbing and lots of orgasmic sex. A subplot involving Gigi, Winnie and Ryan's rebellious teenage daughter, who somewhat improbably turns to Sugar Beth for advice, detracts from the primary drama. The novel is at its best when Phillips sticks with what she does best-fast-paced romps featuring two headstrong people who finally realize that they're soul mates. 7-city author tour. (Feb. 3) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved