Midnight Promises - A Sweet Magnolia novel, Book 8
By Dorine Linnen
Jun 20, 2012 - 8:00:00 AM

Karen (Ames) Cruz discovers that her husband is keeping secrets.  As a newlywed who has experienced divorce and near financial ruin in her previous marriage, any inkling of secretive behavior can set off emotional alarms for Karen.  This is especially true when she learns that her husband intends to invest in a gym and his share of the start-up money will come from their baby fund that they had painstakingly saved together. 

Not only has he planned this new venture without her knowledge, but all their friends have been part of the planning too.  Karen knows that Elliott is trying to protect her from her financial fears but keeping her in the dark has made this just one more anxiety to add to the pile.  Was it a mistake for her to marry again?

Elliott Cruz enjoys his job as a personal trainer at The Corner Spa.  Since this business focuses on women's fitness, he is extremely enthusiastic about a joint venture to create a gym for men.  There will be several of them in this venture together so the financial outlay per person won't be as high, but the potential for the future financial stability for his family is great.  Starting off married life with two children from Karen's previous marriage is a joy, but it also adds to the day-to-day stressors and financial obligations.  Elliott is determined to provide for his family and hopefully become the legal father to Karen's two children who he loves as his own.  Now he just has to convince his wife how much he loves her.

I enjoyed Karen and Elliott's story as well as getting to know the rest of the "sweet magnolias," a fun-loving group of women friends who bring southern charm to life in this engaging story.  The "senior magnolias" are quite funny and add a different spin to the ongoing issues facing those in a small town.  Elliott's very vocal large Italian Catholic family brings some hard issues to light when it's not just Elliott and Karen wondering about their marriage.  MIDNIGHT PROMISES is a tightly woven passage through life which reminds us how our coping mechanisms can affect those around us.

MIDNIGHT PROMISES is book eight in Sherryl Woods' SWEET MAGNOLIAS series, but it's also the first in a trilogy releasing this summer, so it's written in such a way that anyone can start here without confusion.  That's what I did and I became quickly immersed in the town without any prior knowledge of the characters.  I read a lot of series out of order and it's rare to find one so tightly written in consideration of a new reader.  Very well done, considering the volume of characters we get to know in this novel.

MIDNIGHT PROMISES is an unusual romance that takes a deep look at blended families, divorce and recovery from life's hard knocks, which sometimes make us shy away from our own happiness.  What makes this story so unusual is that the leading couple is already married and struggling to hold on to the love that brought them together.  It's also about female empowerment in the course of finding one's self again through friendships, illness, fitness and an overall self-discovery.  This novel portrays a very powerful message for anyone struggling to realize their own potential, and will resonate strongly with those who have already successfully made the journey.  MIDNIGHT PROMISES celebrates longevity in life and relationships, while realizing what's truly important whether it's love, friendship or reconnecting with family.

I'm looking forward to reading book nine, the second in this SWEET MAGNOLIAS trilogy, CATCHING FIREFLIES, coming in August 2012!

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