Welcome to Whynot, North Carolina, population 3,872. It has one stoplight, one bar, and the one-and-only Trixie Mancinkus.
Eleven years ago, Trixie graduated Harvard Law, turned down a job offer from one of the most prestigious law firms in Boston, and headed home to Whynot to open her own firm. Not only did she leave behind the big city, but she also left her boyfriend of three years. And just so we’re clear… that would be me.
So what am I doing in Whynot at this very moment? It seems Trixie needs help with a legal case and for some insane reason, she called on me for assistance. I’ve been in town for five minutes, and I’m every bit as out of place as I feel. Trixie is all sweet, southern curves to my tailored suits and high-priced haircuts. It’s a culture clash of north versus south and about the only thing we have in common is our physical attraction to each other.
But I have a new motto since coming to Whynot: When life hands you lemons, all you need is a little sex and sweet tea to make things better.
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“Nothing worth having doesn’t come without some measure of sacrifice.”
11 years ago, Trixie Mancinkus and Ryland Powers weren’t ready or willing to surrender who they were and what they wanted as individuals, so they ended a three-year relationship and never looked back…at least that’s what they attempted to do, but now that Trixie has asked for Ryland’s help with a case, their past feelings resurface and the passionate connection they once shared has brought them to a crossroad, once again, and hopefully this time, they can find a way to be together or at least get the closure they need to move forward without dwelling on what might have been all those years ago.
Ain’t He Precious brings southern living and southern hospitality to the forefront of readers’ minds, and it illustrates the truly special bond that exists between a southerner and his/her small town community and slow-paced lifestyle. The setting of WhyNot, North Carolina, is just as integral a character as Trixie and Ryland are because through the charming environment that Ryland experiences when he leaves his big city living to lend Trixie a hand, he begins to understand why Trixie felt compelled to leave the life she and Ryland had created in Boston and go back to the place that holds her heart just as much as Ryland did.
Through their time together, Trixie and Ryland realize that they shouldn’t have been so hasty in giving up their forever simply because they weren’t willing to compromise what they wanted all those years ago, and while those same obstacles seem to stand in their way now, perhaps they’ll understand just how precious the love they share is and they’ll figure out a way to have their job and each other because having one without the other is really not an option anymore.
Trixie and Ryland’s story has the perfect blend of drama and steam. It’s a feel good book that illustrates just how precious second chances are and it also proves why a southern girl is willing to sacrifice a good life and a man she loves for what her hometown and the people who live there do for her heart and soul.
I adored this story and Pap Mancinkus’ insights and advice made a great story even better because his wisdom and his love for Trixie and his family proves just how easy it is for a Yankee to find his place in the South.
4.5 Poison Apples
Over lettuce wraps, I let her vent more about her brother but I only let this go on during the appetizer. Once our entrees arrive, I insist we change the subject. She’s not calming down, only getting more worked up, and diversion has always worked best with Trixie.
“Raleigh seems to be a nice town,” I say conversationally in an effort to get her relaxed.
She rolls her eyes at me because as much as I know how to “handle” her when her temper is spiked, she recognizes the fact that I am indeed handling her. Apparently, she finds it adorable. She cuts a piece of her orange chicken and gives in to my attempt to switch the conversation. “It really is. It’s spread out so you don’t have that overwhelming big-city feel, but you have all the luxuries a big city affords like museums, professional sports, fine dining, etcetera.”
“Overwhelming is an interesting choice of words,” I observe. “You didn’t feel that way in Boston, did you?”
I’m surprised when her cheeks turn a bit red. Her voice is reluctant when she admits, “Yeah… it was a bit too much for me.”
My mouth hangs open as I stare at her. How could I not know that? We had made plans to live in Boston, and there was a time when she was completely on board.
“I’m sorry,” she blurts out. “I know what you’re thinking… Why would I have even considered all those plans we’d made if I felt that way?”
“Got to admit… this is a bit surprising to hear.”
Trixie puts her fork down and levels her gaze on me. “Ry… I loved you. And I loved Cambridge. It was small and well… comfortable. It wasn’t small like Whynot, but it reminded me of home a bit. But honestly, I was only considering staying there in Boston because of you. I didn’t like it at all. Too many people. Too much concrete and glass. Too much noise. It’s just not me.”
“You should have said something a lot earlier than you did,” I reprimand her quietly. I can’t help feeling a bit angry over this revelation, because who knows what would have happened had we had some honest discussions about where we wanted to go that could suit both of us.
“Would it have changed anything?” she asks me bluntly. “You were set on Boston. You wanted that job at Hayes Lockamy. You worked your ass off at Harvard and the clerkships to get that job offer. It was everything to you.”
“It wasn’t everything,” I tell her sharply.
“Maybe not,” she retorts. “But it clearly meant more than me. As I recall, I asked you to come to Whynot to practice, and I got a resounding ‘no’ to that offer.”
“You sprung that on me at literally the last minute, Trixie,” I say angrily. “After I’d accepted the job offer at Hayes Lockamy. You didn’t give me any time to process any of it.”
“And you didn’t bother to try to talk me into staying,” she snaps.
“Seriously, Trix,” I say in exasperation. “I’ve been here two days, and I’ve watched you in your element. You were born to live here. This is where you’re supposed to be. Being a small-town lawyer in Whynot surrounded by your close-knit, if not nutty, family is what brings you joy. Are you seriously trying to infer that you would have left all of this to stay in Boston with me if I’d just tried to talk you into staying?”
“No, what I’m saying,” she sneers at me as she leans across the table but I don’t miss the light sheen of tears in her eyes, “is that you and I clearly weren’t meant to be, and we’re both better off for making the choices we did.”
Now that hits me hard, right in the middle of my chest, and I have to resist the urge to rub my knuckles over my breastbone to ease the pain.
Trixie merely pushes up from her chair, grabs her purse, and practically runs out of the restaurant.
“Shit,” I mutter as I stand up. I grab my wallet, take out enough money to cover the meal and tip, and toss it down on the table.
I jet out of the restaurant, scan the area, and see Trixie walking quickly toward her car. I wouldn’t put it past her to jump in it and drive off without me, so I break into a fast trot to catch up with her. My hand latches onto her elbow just as she reaches her car, and I spin her to face me.
“What the hell, Trix?” I ask her with frustration, anger, and a little bit of self-loathing that I let the conversation get so out of hand. I’ve always been the mild-mannered one between the two of us, knowing how to deftly control and sidestep her temper so it doesn’t get the better of her.
I brace, expect her to rail and rant some more. Instead, she launches herself right at me, making a tiny hop to throw her arms around my neck. Her mouth comes to mine hard as one of her hands grips into my hair, fisting it tight.
Jesus Christ… stars wink in my vision at the feel of her mouth on mine, so long forgotten and yet completely familiar all at once. I don’t think—just act. My arms band around her tight, hauling her body to mine. I push her back into the side of her car, tilt my head, and I kiss her back with every bit of longing and regret that she seems to be mutually feeling in this moment.
Juliette Poe is the sweet and swoony alter ego of New York Times Best Selling author, Sawyer Bennett.
A fun-loving southern girl, Juliette knows the allure of sweet tea, small towns, and long summer nights, that some of the best dates end sitting on the front porch swing, and that family is top priority. She brings love in the south to life in her debut series, Sex & Sweet Tea.
When Juliette isn’t delivering the sweetest kind of romance, she’s teaching her southern belle daughter the fine art of fishing, the importance of wearing Chucks, and the endless possibilities of a vivid imagination.