CHRISTMAS, ALABAMA by Susan Sands
Opening the pages of CHRISTMAS, ALABAMA by Susan Sands takes readers to a section of the country much like Jan Karon ‘s Mitford world. It is a story about small town America with a capital “A”. Sands, like Karon, uses homespun humor and heart to tell her story, but unlike Ms. Karon, Sands’ writing has a bit of spice added to the sugar. Nothing extreme but a bit of spice just the same.
The story focuses on Rachel Prudhomme, a photographer living in the close knit town of Ministry, Alabama. Rachel was originally from New Orleans but wanted to make a move to where her family (mother and sister) live – and that is Ministry. Her mother and father are divorced. He cheated on her and even had a son by another woman during the time they were married. Rachel’s sister had a bad first marriage but is now happily wed to the Mayor of Ministry.
Because of her father and her ex-brother-in-law’s failures as marriage partners, Rachel is a bit leery of any romantic entanglements. She just wants to have her own photographic studio and live her life as an independent woman. She certainly possesses the intelligence and talent to do so.
But then handsome Dr. Nick Sullivan moves to Ministry from Atlanta. He arrives close to Thanksgiving and they meet on virtually his first day in the town. Sparks fly, of the romantic sort. Though she resists Rachel knows she is attracted to the good doctor. She decides to play it cool and keep her distance, but then he takes the apartment across the hall from her.
Will they or won’t they fall in love? Well you don’t have to be a genius to know the answer to that one. Still seeing how it all unfolds makes for some easy and enjoyable reading. Sands has a sense of humor with which she infuses her story.Plus she makes her characters likable, lovable and lucky. Just about everyone in the story oozes charm and cheer. It is the holiday season after all.
Some may think it is easy to write a sweet story about small town America, but I don’t think it is. Karon can do it. Erin Hildebrand can do it. To write a story that portrays basic American values, spotlights kind and moral people, and isn’t full of sex, violence and profanity is a huge undertaking especially if you want it to be commercially successful. Sands seems to have found the key to being both proper and popular with her books.
CHRISTMAS, ALABAMA is especially appealing as we actually do approach the holiday season. It will get you all misty-eyed and romantic as you pore through this story of true love in a small southern town. Ministry, Alabama may not be an actual place but you will wish it was. It is hoped Sands will continue to take us there in book after book after book.
CHRISTMAS, ALABAMA is published by Tule. It contains 326 pages and sells for $14.99.
Jackie K Cooper