Pretty as a Peach
(Sex & Sweet Tea, Book #4)
Release Date: March 15, 2018
Darby Culhane is the new farmer in Whynot, North Carolina, and she’s proving to be quite the forbidden temptation for Colt. Darby isn’t looking for anything but a fresh start, and she’s got it all figured out. Get settled in? Check. Apply for the rural county grant? Check. Confrontation with the steaming mad, smoking hot local farmer? Well, that wasn’t on the agenda.
As pretty as she is sweet, Colt can’t help but be drawn to Darby’s…peaches. No really, she’s a peach farmer. Get that mind out of the gutter, and get on down to the farm to see what happens when circumstances force Colt and Darby to team up. They may just find that the peach trees aren’t the only things in bloom.
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I’ve never been to a state fair before. We have them in Illinois and I’d venture to say they’re just as big, if not bigger, given how important agriculture is to that state. But the spectacle all around us as we walk over the massive fairgrounds tells me that the state of North Carolina takes this fair business very seriously.
I’ve mostly enjoyed watching Linnie look around with wide eyes filled with excitement and enthusiasm I just haven’t seen from her in a long time.
Even though I wore my best running shoes complete with personalized arch supports, my feet are absolutely killing me from all the walking we did. Not only did we traverse the midway at least ten times so Linnie could ride the same rides over and over again, but we had to try all the various foods being sold.
Not only do they have the standard fair fare, like funnel cakes and candied apples, but they have foods that are particular to the state. I had a little bit of Eastern North Carolina barbecue—the kind with the vinegar-based sauce—as well as calabash-style fried seafood.
Then came the really crazy food—much of it deep-fried. There were fried Twinkies, fried Oreos, and even deep-fried butter balls. That’s right… Frozen balls of butter that were then coated in batter and deep-fried.
There were pickle popsicles, chocolate-covered bacon, Krispy Kreme hamburgers, and even one vendor truck that boasted chocolate-covered bugs. We avoided that one.
It’s late afternoon, and we’re all dragging. Colt is gallantly carrying our loot. This includes a bag of gummy bears for Linnie, cotton candy he promised his mama, a goldfish Linnie won tossing Ping-Pong balls into fishbowls, and a huge pink stuffed bear Colt won popping balloons with darts.
“Look… the line for the Ferris wheel isn’t long at all,” Linnie says with excitement as she points that way.
It’s been the one ride she hasn’t been on yet but was on her list to try. I silently groan at the thought of waiting for her to ride it. I’m not into the rides at all. No offense to the carnies, but they don’t look like the most reliable workers in the world. My luck, I would end up on the ride where an important bolt was misplaced, and I’d be facing imminent death.
I wanted to hold to this philosophy with my daughter and forbid her from going on any of the rides, but I couldn’t face her disappointment. So I relented and prayed the entire time she and Colt rode one.
“Okay,” I say tiredly. I hold my arms out for Colt to transfer all the stuff to me. “I’ll just wait over here.”
“You should come on this one with us,” Colt says.
I’m shaking my head before the words come out. “No way. Terrified of heights.”
And you know, this thing is probably not built very solidly.
“Come on, Mom,” Linnie pleads. “Just go on one ride with us. This one is really slow, and I’m sure it’s super safe.”
There’s no way that thing is safe. But I also see something in Linnie’s eyes I used to see a lot but has been a rarity of late. She truly wants to spend quality time with me.
“I have an even better idea,” Colt says as he nods to the Ferris wheel. “You two ladies go ride that, and I’m going to sit here and hold on to everything.”
“Awesome,” Linnie exclaims without even waiting for my agreement that I’d be a willing participant. She grabs my hand and starts pulling me toward the end of the Ferris wheel line. I look over my shoulder helplessly at Colt, who grins at me. He doesn’t even look the slightest bit worried I might be marching off to my death.
My stomach rolls the entire time we are waiting, and Linnie just chatters on excitedly about the farm animals we had seen in one of the buildings. She’s trying to talk me into some cows and chickens and has promised she will take care of them.
It’s not that I doubt her sincerity, but she is only seven and isn’t the best on follow through. Still, it might not hurt to get a few chickens. Carlos can easily build us a coop. It would be nice to have fresh eggs each day.
It happens all too quick, but we are now at the front of the line and being ushered into one of the carts. A thin-looking bar is placed over our laps, and Linnie starts rocking the cart back and forth.
“Stop doing that,” I say, clutching onto the bar for dear life. We’re currently suspended two feet off the ground, yet my pulse has gone through the roof.
Linnie laughs, but she stops the rocking motion. “Sorry, Mom.”
She doesn’t sound sorry at all.
“I can get off right now, and Colt can get on,” I suggest. “He’d be glad to let you rock this back and forth.”
“No way,” she says. She peels one of my hands off the bar and holds it tightly with hers. “I won’t do that anymore. I want to ride this one with you.”
That was all I needed to hear from my sweet little girl. A burst of confidence and bravery wells up within me, and I give her hand a squeeze back. Besides, if I’m going to fall to my death, at least it will be doing something that makes my daughter extremely happy. I gasp when the Ferris wheel goes into motion and we shoot forward and upward a few feet before coming to a stop again, so the next people can be loaded into the cart behind us. I refuse to look down and resolve to look straight out at the horizon.
In order to take my mind off my residual fears, I ask Linnie, “Did you have a good time today, honey?”
Linnie nods. Lifting my arm, she scoots under it, prompting me to cuddle her into my side. “I really did.”
Colt dislikes Darby before he even meets her because she had filed for a grant that he needs in order to improve on his farm so that they don't loose it, Darby is filing for the grant for a couple of reasons but Colt just doesn't agree with her needing it as much as he does. For that reason this book starts off as an enemy-to-lovers story, I was thrilled that it didn't last long though and they started a friendship that over time grew into something more.
Linnie is the cutest little girl going, she has the attitude of a typical seven year old girl that isn't happy that things aren't going the way she wants. She's dealing with her parents breakup, along with moving to a new state and starting a new school which can be overwhelming to most adults let alone a young child but then she is also dealing with a bully at school. YIKES, it seems like this poor kid just can't catch a break. What I did love was the way Colt was with her, yes it took some time for Linnie to warm up to him but honestly the way each of the relationships evolved in this story was a great testament to the author not wanting to rush things.
I enjoyed this sweet read very much and I would definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good story about small towns and large families. I love the Mancinkus family each of the siblings are strong willed and independent as well as successful in their chosen professions, Pap is a riot and it would be great to see him get a HEA at some point as well. The next book up is Larkin's and all I can say is that it is already proving to be a hot one sense we met Locke in this story, the chemistry between them is combustible. While each of the books in the Sex and Sweet Tea series can be read as a standalone I would suggest reading from the beginning so you will know how each of the siblings got their HEAs and watch the progression of each of the relationships in the books that follow in the series.