Book Review: Lowcountry Stranger by Ashley Farley

Lowcountry StrangerLowcountry Stranger
Sweeney Sisters #2
Ashley Farley
Leisure Time Books
ISBN 9780986167270
Ebook, July 2016
ISBN 9780986167263
Trade Paperback, May 2016

From the author—

There’s a stranger in town. And it’s no coincidence when she shows up uninvited at a Sweeney family wedding. All eyes are drawn to this urchin who seems to have washed in with the tide. Before the night is over, the doe-eyed waif charms young and old with her street smarts and spunky personality. For better or worse, Annie Dawn is here to stay.

The memorable Sweeney sisters from Her Sister’s Shoes have returned with more suspense and family drama to hold you spellbound until the dramatic conclusion. As she approaches the next stage of her life as an empty nester, Jackie is torn between expanding her fledgling design business and spending these last precious months with her boys before they fly the coop. Her own worst enemy, Sam is terrified of making a commitment to Eli Marshall, handsome police officer, true love of her life. Her resolve is tested when a ghost from her past shows up after nearly two decades. Faith nurtures her seven-year-old daughter who is recovering from the trauma of her abusive father. Is the threat in the past, or is there more danger on the horizon? The sisters seek guidance from their mother, Lovie, a true Southern matriarch who shows them how to respond to adversity with grace and dignity.

Things are heating up in the Lowcountry. The Sweeney sisters remind us, once again, that being a part of a family is about more than sharing the same DNA.

In August of 2015, I read Her Sister’s Shoes and made the acquaintance of three sisters—Faith, Sam and Jackie—and found them to be appealingly normal with their individual stories adding up overall to a strong tale of what family can and should be. At the time, I hoped to see more of these ladies and others in their wider circle and, lo and behold, here they are again.

The lush lowcountry marshland of South Carolina is the setting for the wedding of Faith and Mike, much anticipated by all including Faith’s little girl, Bitsy. Bitsy is still suffering some trauma from her father’s deadly attacks nearly a year earlier and Sam is happy to watch Faith and Bitsy find a safe haven in Mike even as she resists making the same kind of commitment with Eli. Meanwhile, oldest sister Jackie is caught up in her own concerns, as usual, and mother Lovie’s recent peculiar behavior has all her daughters worried and thankful that Captain Mack Bowman is in her life.

When a young woman shows up at the wedding, she’s a stranger yet oddly familiar and her physical appearance is completely inappropriate in both clothing and hygiene. None of the family recognize her or know why she’s at the wedding but they’re astounded at an exchange they see between this teen and Bitsy. Thus begins a story full of drama and twists and turns that will send this extended family’s lives upside down and sideways, always leavened by love and loyalty. Annie Dawn will be the catalyst for change in the family dynamics.

Lowcountry Stranger is essentially Southern fiction or comfort fiction, if you will, but there’s also enough suspense here to appeal to many mystery readers. Over the course of several books, not all involving the Sweeney sisters, I’ve become very comfortable with Ms. Farley‘s work. I always enjoy her storylines and, in particular, I’m drawn to her characters and the ways they interact with each other and cope with day-to-day life as well as various crises. In fact, they’re people I could see myself having as friends and the Sweeneys fall right into that. I really do hope we’ll see much more of this family in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2016.

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