Ain't She Sweet?

Ain't She Sweet?

by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


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Ain't She Sweet?
Not exactly . . .

The girl everybody loves to hate has returned to the town she'd sworn to leave behind forever. As the rich, spoiled princess of Parrish, Mississippi, Sugar Beth Carey had broken hearts, ruined friendships, and destroyed reputations. But fifteen years have passed, and life has taught Sugar Beth its toughest lessons. Now she's come home -- broke, desperate, and too proud to show it.

The people of Parrish don't believe in forgive and forget. When the Seawillows, Sugar Beth's former girlfriends, get the chance to turn the tables on her, they don't hesitate. And Winnie Davis, Sugar Beth's most bitter enemy, intends to humiliate her in the worst possible way.

Then there's Colin Byrne. . . . Fifteen years earlier, Sugar Beth had tried to ruin his career. Now he's rich, powerful, and the owner of her old home. Even worse, this modern-day dark prince is planning exactly the sort of revenge best designed to bring a beautiful princess to her knees.

But none of them have reckoned on the unexpected strength of a woman who's learned survival the hard way.

While Sugar Beth's battered heart struggles to overcome old mistakes, Colin must choose between payback and love. Does the baddest girl in town deserve a second chance, or are some things beyond forgiving?

Ain't She Sweet? is a story of courage and redemption. . . of friendship and laughter. . . of love and the possibility of happily-ever-after.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780641612831
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/17/2004
Pages: 383
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.08(h) x 1.26(d)

About the Author

Susan Elizabeth Phillips soared onto the New York Times bestseller list with Dream a Little Dream. She’s the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is also a hiker, gardener, reader, wife, and mother of two grown sons.


Chicago, Illinois

Place of Birth:

Cincinnati, Ohio


B.F.A., Ohio University

Read an Excerpt

Ain't She Sweet?

"I am afraid," confessed Pen, "that I am not very well-behaved. Aunt says that I had a lamentable upbringing."
Georgette Heyer, The Corinthian

Chapter One

The wild child of Parrish, Mississippi, had come back to the town she'd left behind forever. Sugar Beth Carey gazed from the rain-slicked windshield to the horrible dog who lay beside her on the passenger seat.

"I know what you're thinking, Gordon, so go ahead and say it. How the mighty have fallen, right?" She gave a bitter laugh. "Well, screw you. Just ..." She blinked her eyes against a sting of tears. "Just ... screw you."

Gordon lifted his head and sneered at her. He thought she was trash.

"Not me, pal." She turned up the heater on her ancient Volvo against the chill of the late February day. "Griffin and Diddie Carey ruled this town, and I was their princess. The girl most likely to set the world on fire."

She heard an imaginary howl of basset hound laughter.

Like the row of tin-roofed houses she'd just passed, Sugar Beth had grown a little shabby at the edges. The long blond hair that swirled to her shoulders didn't gleam as brightly as it once had, and the tiny gold hearts at her earlobes no longer skipped in a carefree dance. Her pouty lips had lost the urge to curl in flirtatious smiles, and her baby doll cheeks had given up their innocence three husbands ago.

Thick lashes still framed a pair of amazing clear blue eyes, but a delicate tracing of lines had begun to make tiny fishtails at the corners. Fifteen years earlier, she'd been the best-dressed girl in Parrish, but now one of her calf-high stiletto-heeled boots had a small hole in the sole, and her scarlet body-hugging knit dress with its demure turtleneck and not-so-demure hemline had come from a discount store instead of a pricey boutique.

Parrish had begun its life in the 1820s as a northeastern Mississippi cotton town and later escaped the torches of the occupying Union army, thanks to the wiles of its female population, who'd showered the boys in blue with such unrelenting charm and indefatigable Southern hospitality that none of them had the heart to strike the first match. Sugar Beth was a direct descendant of those women, but on days like this, she had a tough time remembering it.

She adjusted the windshield wipers as she approached Shorty Smith Road and gazed toward the two-story building, empty on this Sunday afternoon, that still sat at the end. Thanks to her father's economic blackmail, Parrish High School stood as one of the Deep South's few successful experiments with integrated public education. Once she'd ruled those hallways. She alone had decided who sat at the best table in the cafeteria, which boys were acceptable to date, and whether an imitation Gucci purse was okay if your daddy wasn't Griffin Carey, and you couldn't afford the real thing. Blond and divine, she'd reigned supreme.

She hadn't always been a benevolent dictator, but her power had seldom been challenged, not even by the teachers. One of them had tried, but Sugar Beth had made short work of that. As for Winnie Davis ... What chance did a clumsy, insecure geek have against the power and might of Sugar Beth Carey?

As she gazed through the February drizzle at the high school, the old music began to drum in her head: INXS, Miami Sound Machine, Prince. In those days, when Elton John sang "Candle in the Wind," he'd only been singing of Marilyn.

High school. The last time she'd owned the world. Gordon farted.

"God, I hate you, you miserable dog."

Gordon's scornful expression told her he didn't give a damn. These days, neither did she.

She checked the gas gauge. She was running on fumes, but she didn't want to waste money filling the tank until she had to. Looking on the bright side, who needed gas when she'd reached the end of the road?

She turned the corner and saw the empty lot marking the place where Ryan's house had once stood. Ryan Galantine had been Ken to her Barbie. The most popular boy; the most popular girl. Luv U 4-Ever. She'd broken his heart their freshman year at Ole Miss when she'd screwed around on him with Darren Tharp, the star athlete who'd become her first husband.

Sugar Beth remembered the way Winnie Davis used to look at Ryan when she didn't think anyone was watching. As if a clumsy outcast had a chance with a dazzler like Ryan Galantine. Sugar Beth's group of friends, the Seawillows, had wet their pants laughing at her behind her back. The memory depressed her even further.

As she drove toward the center of town, she saw that Parrish had capitalized on its newfound fame as the setting and leading character of the nonfiction best-seller Last Whistle-stop on the Nowhere Line. The new Visitors Bureau had attracted a steady stream of tourists, and she could see the town had spruced itself up. The sidewalk in front of the Presbyterian church no longer buckled, and the ugly streetlights she'd grown up with had been replaced with charming turn-of-the-century lampposts. Along Tyler Street, the historic Antebellum, Victorian, and Greek Revival homes sported fresh coats of paint, and a jaunty copper weathervane graced the cupola of Miss Eulie Baker's Italianate monstrosity. Sugar Beth and Ryan had made out in the alley behind that house the night before they'd gone all the way.

She turned onto Broadway, the town's four-block main street. The courthouse clock was no longer frozen at ten past ten, and the fountain in the park had shed its grime. The bank, along with a half dozen other businesses, sported maroon and green striped awnings, and the Confederate flag was nowhere in sight ...

Ain't She Sweet?. Copyright © by Susan Phillips. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.


A Heart to Heart Interview with Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Heart to Heart: Ain't She Sweet? is centered around a wonderful heroine, Sugar Beth Carey, and how her experiences in high school affect later life. Was your own experience more like Sugar Beth's, the prettiest girl in the school, or Winnie, the nerd?

Susan Elizabeth Phillips: I was definitely the prettiest girl in school... the most popular... the best dressed. Yep, that was me all right. Okay, I'm lying, but it's fun to pretend. The truth is, I never got it right in high school -- clothes, hair, boys, anything. Definitely more like Winnie, although I wasn't shy (or as smart!).

HtoH: There's a wonderful scene midway through the book where Sugar Beth counsels the 13-year-old daughter of her former boyfriend about using her teenage years to become strong, not popular, to accumulate power, not to give it away. Where did this concept come from?

SEP: Observation and life experience. I've only raised sons, but from my observations, girls still get a lot of messages that steal their power. A girl with great leadership skills is admonished "not to be so bossy," for example. Who ever says anything like that to a boy? I also think girls are giving up a lot of sexual power by holding their bodies too cheaply. (I know. I sound like a geezer.)

HtoH: Did you run into any particular difficulties writing the story of Sugar Beth and Colin?

SEP: Sugar Beth may be my all-time favorite. She's tough, funny, and vulnerable -- a former spoiled brat who's learned life's most difficult lessons the hard way. As for her nemesis -- lethal, elegant Colin Byrne… Readers might be interested to know he wasn't the book's original hero. The first hero I created proved much too tame for Sugar Beth, so when I was about four months into the writing process, I pressed my delete key, went back to Chapter One, and started all over again. I think Colin was worth the extra effort. And so does Sugar Beth….

HtoH: Do you usually choose your titles from music?

SEP: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. This book was originally titled LUV U 4-EVER, but we started worrying about things like search engines and whether it sounded too much like a young adult title. Readers might be interested to know that Ain't She Sweet? was the original title of It Had to Be You, the first book in the Chicago Stars series. I'm so glad I finally get to use it.

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Ain't She Sweet? 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Shellagh More than 1 year ago
Susan Elizabeth Phillips rarely disappoints and this book did not. I've read this book more than once and I love it every time. It's such a good read and I recommend it to anyone!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! The characters were so engaging and real, that when I was reading this book I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and what was gonna happen!!! Very recommended!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
haughty and fun. The sexual tension at the beginning is enough to drive you nuts! loved the plot and the characters, HIGHLY recommended
Molica-MakeBelieve More than 1 year ago
I never gave romance novels a second thought, until I worked in a call center and was left with a filing cabinet drawer full of romance novels to take the edge off of the days of angry callers. And I was the biggest skeptic, especially of this book - because who could relate to a character named Sugar Beth?!? :) But I was completely surprised with how much I love this book - I still often think about it. It is a beautiful story of the pains of our teenage years and how our past shapes us, changes us, and can be carried with us as baggage if we let it. I especially loved the part where Sugar Beth is teaching everyone how to "claim their power". It is something that I think every woman can learn from - I know I certainly did, and I never thought it would be possible to actually learn a life lesson from a romance novel. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips and read every book she writes, but I found the characters in this book petty and childish. I wanted to ask "At what point did they fail to become adults?" I think I would have been okay them if the characters had grown and developed by the end of the book. But it appeared as if everyone thought the behavior was justifiable and just went on with their lives. Was just a little to soap operaish (yes I did make that word up) and I didn't find the characters very likable.