Published by Cerridwen Press on November 1, 2005
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Sweet tea, corn bread, and soup beansâeveryday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both of their lives forever.
Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love. The future looks rosy until the fateful night when Frank Anderson, Nick's abusive father, is shot to death in his filthy trailer.
Suddenly, Nick is goneâleaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant. For the next fifteen years she wrestles with the pain of Nick's abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends. But finally, she's starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her business is booming, and she's content if not happyâuntil the day she looks up and sees Nick standing across the counter. He's backâ¦and he's not alone.
Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength. Only one thing might break the protective wall she's built around her emotionsâthe truth about Frank Anderson's death. But when that truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion that could destroy as well as heal.
First let me start off by saying that this book came highly recommended. I had heard so many great things about it. Ms Allred is a new to me author and truthfully I wasn’t sure what to expect. I can honestly say that I truly enjoyed reading it.
The Sweet Gum Tree has everything I’ve ever wanted in a romance book. A beautiful and well written love story. One that touches my heart and makes me feel so many emotions while reading it. It also has characters that I was able to connect with and truly feel like I was alongside them experiencing things they were experiencing. It totally sucked me in from the first page and held my attention throughout the entire story. And at no time did I find myself skimming. I was so entranced by this story that I found it difficult to put it down. Another thing this story offers is that it reinforces the old saying that “Love really does conquer all.”
It is written from Alix’s POV and covers a span of some fifteen plus years. At no time does the story feel like it is dragging on. It is written in two parts and the characters are different ages within each part. There is strong character development in this one. I felt like I really knew these characters and I feel in love with them.
Both Alix and Nick are young when the story first begins. They come from completely different backgrounds and there is just something about Nick that draws Alix to him. I loved getting to know each of them. I felt a great deal of compassion for Nick. He had an abusive poor excuse for a father. One who treated him so badly my heart literally ached for him.
There were a few things that happened that I was able to see coming. This didn’t take away from the story. I wasn’t able to figure it all out. There were a few surprises I didn’t see coming. That aspect made the story all the more enjoyable.
The love scenes while PG rated were well written and had a certain a sweetness about them.
While they weren’t explicit in nature, they were enjoyable to read and blended in the story perfectly.
Overall, I cannot express to you how much I loved this story and it’s characters. It is one that will stick with me for a very long time. I’m definitely going to purchase a print copy for my shelves. Ms Allred did an excellent job in writing this story and I’m looking forward to checking out more of her work in the future. You guys have to read this one. It’s romance at its best.