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The Sweet Gum Tree

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Sweet tea, corn bread, and soup beanseveryday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his Sweet tea, corn bread, and soup beans—everyday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both of their lives forever. Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love. The future looks rosy until the fateful night when Frank Anderson, Nick's abusive father, is shot to death in his filthy trailer. Suddenly, Nick is gone—leaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant. For the next fifteen years she wrestles with the pain of Nick's abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends. But finally, she's starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her business is booming, and she's content if not happy—until the day she looks up and sees Nick standing across the counter. He's back…and he's not alone. Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength. Only one thing might break the protective wall she's built around her emotions—the truth about Frank Anderson's death. But when that truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion that could destroy as well as heal.


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Sweet tea, corn bread, and soup beanseveryday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his Sweet tea, corn bread, and soup beans—everyday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both of their lives forever. Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love. The future looks rosy until the fateful night when Frank Anderson, Nick's abusive father, is shot to death in his filthy trailer. Suddenly, Nick is gone—leaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant. For the next fifteen years she wrestles with the pain of Nick's abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends. But finally, she's starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her business is booming, and she's content if not happy—until the day she looks up and sees Nick standing across the counter. He's back…and he's not alone. Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength. Only one thing might break the protective wall she's built around her emotions—the truth about Frank Anderson's death. But when that truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion that could destroy as well as heal.

30 review for The Sweet Gum Tree

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aestas Book Blog

    5.5 stars "You're the only one I've ever wanted, Alix, the only one I'll ever want. That's a promise." Oh WOW !!! What a BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING book!! Love! love! love!! I'm a mess - it was an intense, utterly riveting book that I literally could not put down, that kept my heart racing, kept me near tears for a good chunk of it, that had me hanging off of every word that I read, and the story just ripped my heart out but yet still had a very sweet ending. The writing was beautiful and flowed 5.5 stars "You're the only one I've ever wanted, Alix, the only one I'll ever want. That's a promise." Oh WOW !!! What a BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING book!! Love! love! love!! I'm a mess - it was an intense, utterly riveting book that I literally could not put down, that kept my heart racing, kept me near tears for a good chunk of it, that had me hanging off of every word that I read, and the story just ripped my heart out but yet still had a very sweet ending. The writing was beautiful and flowed effortlessly, the characters were vivid, and the story was gripping and sucked you right in from the start. If you are looking for a captivating, bittersweet, emotional read with a happy ending, this is it! I started reading this book around midnight after a whole day of traveling expecting to just read for an hour and put it down. Boy was I wrong! I read straight through the night and finished the book around 6am when the sun came up!! I just couldn't tear myself away from it! The first half of the book starts out in a small Southern town where Alix, an 8 year-old girl from a very well-respected family who reaches out to help Nick, the 10-year old son of a dead-beat drunk who owns the local salvage yard. She befriends him and over the years, her family shelters him as he and Alix grow closer and closer. Even from a young age, they have a connection that is just so beautiful and powerful. "...while I was vowing to save Nick, he had taken on the job of being my protector and staunchest defender." As they grow up, it becomes impossible for them to deny the love they've always had for each other. "There was only one boy I wanted, and I lived for the times when I could be alone with him. It was simple. When I was with Nick, I was happy. When I wasn't, I was restless and miserable." But when tragedy outside of their control strikes, Nick is forced to leave town. The second half of the book occurs 15 years later when Nick returns home and tries with everything he's got to put their relationship back together. This book got me so into it, that when I read these words, "Then, fifteen years after he left, Nick came home." , I just felt my heart clenched right up and tears literally just started falling from my cheeks. I just needed things to be made right again so badly. "Do you want to know the real reason I came back, Alix? It was because of you. You're my roots. Wherever you are would be home to me...I've never stopped loving you. I won't give up that easily." There is a huge twist to the story with secrets that comes out explaining the true reason why he had to leave that had me almost hyperventilating and clutching at my heart. This story is about powerful love, loss and betrayal, family, second chances, secrets that test the strength of family and relationship bonds, overcoming prejudices, but most importantly its about a very beautiful and sweet love story that start when Alix and Nick were young and never lets go throughout all the years of hardship. The book was told from Alix's perspective - almost as if she were retelling it from the end. But I loved how, especially in the first part of the book when she is a child, she explains it through the eyes of child while still giving insight on the side from her adult, mature self. I just totally fell in love with Nick. He's was exactly my kind of hero - first he was totally HOT, but what really melted my heart was how protective he was. I just love that quality in a man. And he was just such a GOOD guy - so respectful, always trying to do the right thing, and he was just completely, utterly swoony. I'm smiling as I write this just thinking about him. But that isn't to say that he (or Alix) was perfect - they made their fair share of mistakes but the mistakes were understandable... I didn't always agree with what they did, but I could totally understand why they did it. But the strength of their love for each other won out in the end. The intensity of Nick and Alix's love took my breath away at times and while there are a fair number of sex scenes, they are not portrayed very graphically. They are more focused on descriptions of emotions rather than acts. I think fans of Take This Regret will really enjoy this book, and vice versa. This book is going on my favorites shelf! Absolutely LOVED it!! A must-read!! For more of my reviews, visit Aestas Book Blog And come join the Aestas Book Blog Facebook Page

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kristin (KC) - Traveling Sister

    BREATHTAKING! Books like The Sweet Gum Tree are why I love to read. Filled with beauty, symbolism, heartache, forgiveness, redemption, and an undying love all aroundthis ultimate love story turned out to be one of the greatest books I've ever read! Since the synopsis for this book is generous and intriguing enough, I don't feel a summation of the story here is necessary. But I will say that each and and every one of these characters had been broken and slowly redeemed and held a special place in BREATHTAKING! Books like The Sweet Gum Tree are why I love to read. Filled with beauty, symbolism, heartache, forgiveness, redemption, and an undying love all around—this ultimate love story turned out to be one of the greatest books I've ever read! Since the synopsis for this book is generous and intriguing enough, I don't feel a summation of the story here is necessary. But I will say that each and and every one of these characters had been broken and slowly redeemed and held a special place in my heart throughout this extraordinary book.  I enjoyed  being present during Nick and Alix's transition from childhood to adulthood. It was such an incredible way to build a palpable connection and understanding for the characters.  I love reading books with references to the finer things in life. I was mesmerized by the descriptions of nature and its comparison to humanity. Nick was Alix's "sweet gum tree", and his love stood deeply rooted in Alix's life no matter how the storms threatened to rip them apart.  Although this story was heartbreaking throughout, it didn't remain tragic or leave me feeling depleted. The  heartache actually intensified its sweetness instead of reducing it. What I loved most about this story was its example that true love is strong enough to forgive and withstand any element that threatens to break it. Most of the time, the choices we make in life deeply affect our future...but some of life's downfalls are completely out of our hands. We have to allow ourselves the time to grieve in order to properly heal so we can, eventually, be able to live again.  Book Stats: ▪ Genre/Category: Contemporary Romance ▪ Steam Caliber: Moderate/Steamy ▪ Romance: Childhood to adulthood romance. Sweet, angsty, and emotional. ▪ Characters: Damaged, lovable and very well-fleshed out. ▪ Plot: Focused on redemption, forgiveness, and healing. Slight twist. ▪ Writing: Brilliant and cultured. Engrossing storytelling. ▪ POV: First person: Heroine ▪ Cliffhanger: None/Standalone ▪ HEA? (view spoiler)[ Yes (hide spoiler)]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    5 Beautiful Stars! If you are like me, and have just had this book sitting on your e-reader for months and havent gotten around to it, do yourself a favor and bump it to the top of your TBR list! Such an amazing, beautiful, sweet, and at times- heartbreaking story. Alix and Nick (as adults) Alix French and Nick Anderson both grew up in the same small town. They meet when Alix is 8 and Nick is 10. Alix comes from a good family. She lives with her grandfather Judge, her mama and her two aunts. 5 Beautiful Stars! If you are like me, and have just had this book sitting on your e-reader for months and haven’t gotten around to it, do yourself a favor and bump it to the top of your TBR list! Such an amazing, beautiful, sweet, and at times- heartbreaking story. Alix and Nick (as adults) Alix French and Nick Anderson both grew up in the same small town. They meet when Alix is 8 and Nick is 10. Alix comes from a good family. She lives with her grandfather ‘Judge’, her mama and her two aunts. Nick doesn’t have the same home life. He lives with his drunk father, who runs the junkyard and is abusive to him. He doesn’t have too many friends, and Alix decides to befriend him. A beautiful friendship between the two of them begins. Nick and Alix grow up together. Nick becomes part of the family to the other French’s. He often stays in the spare room of their barn when his dad is particularly nasty. As they grow up and get older, the feelings the two of them have start to go past friendship. They develop real feelings for one another. Nick never feels good enough for Alix. It’s a hurdle for their relationship. Nick and Alix start to fall in love. They date ‘secretly’. Alix is technically seeing a guy who her mama wants her with, but she doesn’t love Hugh. She only cares about him like a friend. Nick’s the only man she has ever wanted. She wants to break up with Hugh, but things are complicated with her and Nick. Nick has a neighbor named Lindsey he is particularly close to. He has been like a big brother to her, and she needs his help. That is why Nick and Alix’s relationship has to be a secret. This goes on for months. Finally, Alix makes Nick chose. He of course, chooses her. The morning they are going to come clean with her family about their relationship, she finds out something shocking. Nick’s father Frank has been murdered. And Nick is in jail. It looks as though it was self defense, so they give Nick a choice to leave town and join the Army. He takes it. This devastates Alix. Alix learns that “You can’t turn love on and off like a light switch, no matter how hard you try.” Many heartbreaking things happen from here... Alix finds herself (view spoiler)[pregnant with Nick’s baby. She is only 18 and getting ready to graduate high school. (hide spoiler)] Hugh, the guy she has been seeing finds out all about Nick and wants to marry her anyway. Because of the circumstances, and Nick telling her he’s never coming back and to move on- she agrees. Something devastating happens to Alix that year. (view spoiler)[ Her baby, Katie, dies of SIDS at 6 months old. (hide spoiler)] She never gets past it. She is in a loveless marriage for 15 years before she decides enough is enough and files for divorce. She works hard at her company, her job is her life. Her family and friends are worried. “You walk and talk and breathe and eat, you work and sleep, but you aren’t alive anymore.” Right before her divorce is final, she see’s him. Nick Anderson is back in town. He brings her back to life, but not in the way you imagine. She blames Nick, hates him for what he did. Especially now that he has brought a son with him. (view spoiler)[ A son that would be the same age as her daughter and looks a lot like Katie (hide spoiler)] Its too much for Alix. “I do not love Nick. I hate him.”
 “No, you only think you do. Alix, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. And you couldn’t be indifferent to him if your life depended on it.” Nick can’t explain everything quite yet, but he tries to get through to Alix. He loves her, he’s never stopped loving her and he wants to be with her. “Do you want to know the real reason I came back, Alix? It was because of you. You’re my roots. Wherever you are would be home to me.” It takes a lot of convincing for Alix to realize this, but once she hears the truth, will she ever be able to forgive Nick? I guessed part of the big twist early on... (view spoiler)[ I knew Nick would NEVER cheat on Alix. I had a feeling the baby was Franks. I wasn’t sure about who killed him, but it didnt’ surprise me that it was Lindsay. (hide spoiler)] “I swear, I’ll never leave you again.” he whispered “It wouldn’t do you any good if you did,” I said. “Because the next time, I’d come after you.” This a solid 5 star read for me, one of my new favorite ya books! Nick and Alix’s journey is sweet and beautiful, but it is also heartbreaking and tragic. Those two went through so much, but through it all, they still had an unbreakable bond. The writing was beautiful, and the ending will make your heart happy!!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Blacky *Romance Addict*

    He brushed my hair back. Youre the only one Ive ever wanted, Alix, the only one Ill ever want. Thats a promise. God, I cant lose you again. His whisper was harsh, filled with pain. Not now, when Ive waited so long to hold you. I think it would kill me. But Im so damn scared youll hate me when you find out the truth. This was both heartbreaking and sweet <3 Amazing romance that spans decades, from childhood sweethearts to adult intense love. <3 The story I didnt want to stop. It scared me. Youre He brushed my hair back. “You’re the only one I’ve ever wanted, Alix, the only one I’ll ever want. That’s a promise.” “God, I can’t lose you again.” His whisper was harsh, filled with pain. “Not now, when I’ve waited so long to hold you. I think it would kill me. But I’m so damn scared you’ll hate me when you find out the truth.” This was both heartbreaking and sweet <3 Amazing romance that spans decades, from childhood sweethearts to adult intense love. <3 The story “I didn’t want to stop. It scared me. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, Alix. I’m not going to let anything hurt you, not even me. I figured I had to stay away from you for your own good.” Alix and Nick meet while they are children and form an instant friendship. As the years go by, they grow up and fall in love <3 It isn't all sunshine and roses because Nick has an abusive father who's making his life hell, and the only good thing Nick has is Alix and her family. A horrible thing happens that drives them apart and makes Alix hate him:( Alix and Nick “I thought I’d lost you,” he murmured. “I’ve never been so afraid in my life. I felt hollow, like part of me had been ripped out.” His shaking finally eased to periodic spasms. “I swear, Alix, someday I’ll make you proud to be seen with me.” Life was never easy on those two. Not when they were kids, not as teens and certainly not when they are adults. Nick's father was always there to make his life miserable and I felt sorry for Nick from the start :( He grew up to be an amazing man and I love him like crazy <3 Alix... I can't say that I loved her, she was OK and she got on my nerves in the second part of the book, really got on my nerves :D But as a couple, I loved them and their heartbreaking romance <3 Overall What I liked: I enjoyed the book as a whole, I couldn't stop reading! It was emotionally intense, especially when it hit 50%! The romance was great even though pretty much sad all the time, but surprisingly, it didn't bother me! It was still sweet, especially at the end. I looooved Nick <3 OMG he is amazing <3 What I didn't like: The long intro into the real story. I am not a fan of this, especially when it's to do with their pasts and too much detail. (view spoiler)[50% of the book in their childhood/teens is way too long for my taste. (hide spoiler)] Having said that, the childhood part was interesting, so as the teen years, I can't say I hated reading it cause I loved those two together, I just wish it was SHORTER! The melodrama at the end. I am not a melodrama fan either and the ending was a bit weird for me, especially the epilogue. I guess I wanted something more and more intense than what I got. I did like the ending overall because of what happened between them, again, I just wish it wasn't so melodramatic. Now I know it seems like I complained a lot, but I only disliked those two things, while I loved the book itself. Weird but there you go, I even loved the angsty part if you can believe it :DDD So for everyone who loves a heartbreaking romance with a HEA, grab this one, you won't regret it :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zeek

    The Sweet Gum Tree started out brilliantly. Expertly setting the scene of smalltown livin in the deep south, I was hooked. Even more so when little Alix French befriends a boy from the wrong side of the tracks by introducing him to her favorite books. They become a fierce unit and its easy to see they are destined soul mates. I loved Nick and Alix. Together. Apart? Not so much, because they were stupid. Period. When things begin to happen to keep them apart, the book fell apart for me too. Here The Sweet Gum Tree started out brilliantly. Expertly setting the scene of smalltown livin in the deep south, I was hooked. Even more so when little Alix French befriends a boy from the wrong side of the tracks by introducing him to her favorite books. They become a fierce unit and it’s easy to see they are destined soul mates. I loved Nick and Alix. Together. Apart? Not so much, because they were stupid. Period. When things begin to happen to keep them apart, the book fell apart for me too. Here we go again, "The Big Misunderstanding" plot device. I'm okay with it, truly I am- if the reason that keeps them apart doesnt do so beyond reasonable explanation. With The Sweet Gum Tree? Not so much. See the secret that Nick holds is supposed to be something deep and mysterious, kept close to the his vest. But it was obvious to me from the get go. Which seriously ticked me off- because it screamed- “C’mon- it's gotta something more than that!?”, which made me want to scream at the heroine, "YOU IDIOT! Can't you see what he's doing?!". To make it worse, he keeps perpetuating the misunderstanding BY NOT TELLING HER THE TRUTH. bbbluuurghhh Add that to me being already irritated with Alix for clinging to her misplaced hatred toward the man she supposedly once loved to her very soul and I was over my first blush of excitement fairly quickly. (She also came off pretty dang blind by not seeing what was so patently obvious not only with Nick and the woman she thought he was in love with behind her back, but also with her best friend.) There's nothing I hate more then the feel of manufactured drama. Either make it plausible or go over the top. This just ticked me off. Oh and one more thing- the author’s heavy handed foreshadowing- no wait, forewarning because there was no shadowing about it. She outright said they were doomed. At the end of every chapter. Though I kept reading, I was done about 40% in. Generous 2 pts- 1 for keeping me reading and 1 for the magnificent setting and characters. Everything else? Amateur.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mo

    3.75 stars I liked this one. Didn't make the five star mark for me. The misunderstanding was a bit too much for me. The fact that Nick felt no compulsion to stay irritated me a bit. Saying that, it was quite a good read. You cant turn love on and off like a light switch, no matter how hard you try. All you can do is wall it off, one brick at a time, until youve created an impenetrable fortress around your emotions. And once that fortress is built, you camouflage it so well that even you cant 3.75 stars I liked this one. Didn't make the five star mark for me. The misunderstanding was a bit too much for me. The fact that Nick felt no compulsion to stay irritated me a bit. Saying that, it was quite a good read. “You can’t turn love on and off like a light switch, no matter how hard you try. All you can do is wall it off, one brick at a time, until you’ve created an impenetrable fortress around your emotions. And once that fortress is built, you camouflage it so well that even you can’t see it anymore.” “To my surprise, Nick reached under his shirt and pulled out the half-heart pendant. With his gaze fixed on mine, he slid the chain over my head. “No one should have to go through life with only half a heart,” he whispered.” “A sweet gum tree is the chameleon of wood, it’s corky exterior hiding it’s inner ability to imitate anything from cherry to mahogany. But it’s real value, one unrealized by most people, is it’s deep red heart, steady and strong.” It was one of these books where I really couldn't figure out what timeline it was written in. It could have been the 50s, the 60s, the 70s..... it had a sort of a timeless feel to it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annie Brewer

    OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG *deep breaths* Holy shit....that was THE BEST EFFING BOOK I've EVER read....hands down!!!! TWENTY stars. Omg I have a headache and my eyes are sore from the fifty million full on sobs I did. I shall have a full review soon.... BEFORE I GO INTO THIS REVIEW.....EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK! EVERYONE! READ THIS BOOK! I MEAN IT! READ. THIS. BOOK. Thank you! If I could give this book EVERY star in the world, I certianly would. My emotions are still raw after finishing OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG *deep breaths* Holy shit....that was THE BEST EFFING BOOK I've EVER read....hands down!!!! TWENTY stars. Omg I have a headache and my eyes are sore from the fifty million full on sobs I did. I shall have a full review soon.... BEFORE I GO INTO THIS REVIEW.....EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK! EVERYONE! READ THIS BOOK! I MEAN IT! READ. THIS. BOOK. Thank you! If I could give this book EVERY star in the world, I certianly would. My emotions are still raw after finishing this book at 5 this morning. So a decent review is not feasible right now. But make no mistake, this book is UNFORGETTABLE, EPIC, GUT WRENCHINGLY BEAUTIFUL novel I've EVER read and I can't think straight for the life of me. But I will have a long throrough review when I can function correctly. Oh Lord, where do I begin?? This book is still so fresh on my mind that I could see every bit of the story through my eyes. It was simply, simply amazing, wonderful, unforgettable. Oh my God, I just love this book so damn much. I want to read it all over again just to be with the characters once again! I am recommending this book to EVERYONE! It is truly my absolute FAVORITE book of ALL TIME. And though I may say quite often how a book is my favorite blah blah blah....nope....not like this one is! This book and Take This Regret are my TWO favorite books EVER! They are so unique and heartbreaking and gutwrenching and insides twisting....GAH! I'm getting emotional all over again. Dammit! *deep breaths* So first of all, I didn't realize this book is 7 years old. I'll admit when I first saw this book on GR, I was a little deterred from reading it because the cover did look kind of old school. I guess the cover doesn't attract many people. But honestly, once you read it, you totally understand what the cover symbolizes which okay it's not the greatest cover but it makes a Hell of alot more sense! I just hope Katherine will update it and make it more eye catching to get more people to read it because IT DESERVES MORE RECOGNITION. But to me, I do love it now that I know what the book is about. So, okay the cover....check. Ummm, I normally know what I want to cover on my reviews but I am so scatterbrained with this book that I have no idea how to really get into the review itself. This book simply took my breath away. Thanks to Erin, my greatest and wonderful ally and sidekick....she introduced me to the most poetic, captivating, heartbreaking, sweet and fun book I've EVER read! I read her review and saw her updates and it became more and more intriguing....and she was recommending this book like crazy. So as I saw more people reading it and having the same reaction I figured it was time to jump on this book and see what the hype was about. HOLY SHITBALLS! HOLY SHITBALLS! MY God. Holy Hell. Dammit. When I started this I was instantly swept away by not only the characters but the descriptions. They were so vivid that I could picture every bit of this amazing place that Katherine painted for us. It was like seeing it firsthand. I felt like I was inside the story and watching it, feeling all the emotions the characters felt. Not one character did I end up not liking and for the life of me, it started out that way. But by the end, I called them all my family. My friends. I cried when I finished because not only is the ending bittersweet, but I didn't want to leave them. Oh my God, I loved them so much! I've read plenty of contemporary romance novels, but by far this is the BEST! The Sweet Gum Tree takes place within 26 years. Alix, the town's rich kid and Nick, son of start as friends at the age of 8 and 10. Alix(8) befriends Nick(10), saving him from his horrible life. His father is a real asshole and he's abbusive and I wanted to beat the fuck out of him for everything he did. Holy shit, that man is the epitome of a sick fuck! And when you read this, you'll understand my hatred for him. So Nick being scared and worried about what others think, since he is the son of a drunk and white trash, living in a salvage junk yard....he's very skittish. He loves to read but his father thinks reading is a waste of time, but yet he spends all his time drunk off his ass instead of being a father to his son. Slowly, Nick lets his guard down and he and Alix get closer. Their friendship is absolutely captivating and beautiful. He becomes a protector of her, and as they get older and she starts asking him hilarious questions about babies and marriage, I can't help but laugh and feel so much love for them. Alix is so smart and she's very inquisitive, leaving Nick to answer odd questions. But he doesn't mind. When night when he is so beat up by his dad, Alix puts him up in a room in their barn next to their house and her grandfather who lives with them and happens to be the judge of town, helps him with his wounds. Then he goes to Nick's house and tells his father that is he ever hurts Nick again, he'll be thrown in jail. After that, you don't see him making that mistake....but that doesn't mean he doesn't do some other shit. But still, Nick comes over and sleeps in that room that becomes his own for whenever he wants to get away from his dad, especially after he’s been drinking. He’s made a promise to the Judge that he would, to avoid getting abused again. It works well for Alix and Nick. As their friendship blossoms and gets more intense, you see how much their love for one another is so strong and its beautiful. Though he’s still afraid of what others will say, they don’t tell anyone. As they are in middle school and she goes through changes, so does he. And of course she notices and it’s quite funny. Their banter and conversations between one another is so awesome! Some of his quotes are unforgettable. “You’re not old enough to have a real boyfriend,” he muttered. I stiffened. “If I’m old enough to have babies, then I’m damn well old enough to have a boyfriend,” I ground out. “And just as soon as I decide on who it’s going to be, I’ll let you know.” Once they became a couple, their relationship was so consuming. You were so in love with both of them. He was the perfect gentleman and very gentle with her. It was really neat that they were both virgins so the first time they have sex was hot but also funny because she wasn’t sure if they were doing it right. I couldn’t help but laugh. I loved it though! He never made her do anything she was uncomfortable with which is why it took them awhile to get it on….I kept hoping early on that they would do it already. But Nick was chivalrous and I loved that about him. Oh there was a scene between them….him thrusting her up against his car while making out was HOT HOT HOT! Ahhhhh, he’s one sexy beast!! In the meantime, we meet the Judge, Aunt Darla, Aunt Jane, Jenna (Alix’s best friend), Hugh and many more characters that I will never forget. Once things get good for Nick and Alix, they finally make it a point to tell the family that they are together. But I guess not everything goes your way. Something bad happens, something so life changing your heart starts racing rapidly in your chest and Nick has to leave Alix and his life behind. She is so heartbroken, so beside herself….only to discover something worse-she’s pregnant, with his child and he’s gone. It’s right before graduation and she is dating Hugh, another childhood friend who has liked her since they were kids. Both of their families want them to get married and since she is pregnant and he agrees to father Nick’s child…that’s what they do. Get married. They go through life unhappy; they don’t really love each other. Alix still wants Nick in her life and Hugh starts looking elsewhere. It’s a disaster. They divorce and her mother becomes angry with her and doesn’t talk to her for a while. It’s one thing after another. Alix’s life if so screwed up with another tragedy that hits her square in the gut…….. But the day Nick comes back, her life is turned upside down. Questions, many unanswered questions remains in the forefront of her mind. Can they mend what was broken? Can they surpass 15 years of agony and pain they both suffered being apart? Can Alix forgive Nick for leaving her, especially when she needed him most?? Can love really conquer all? “Do you want to know the real reason I came back, Alix?” It was because of you. You’re my roots. Wherever you are would be home to me.” Nick, oh Nick…oh GOD NICK my heart breaks for you all over again, just remembering everything!!! I don’t want to give much else away since I basically told the story(there are some secrets I left out and they are HUGE). I couldn’t help myself….I want to read this book again…NOW! It’s so emotional. They go through the most raw, painful, agonizing, torture, tragic events that I could bear to watch. Just when you think things are going so well for them…..BAM! Another bomb drops and the floor from under you is pulled so forcefully and it’s so unfortunate for them. I love these characters more than most. I loved Nick with all my heart but also I loved Alix a great deal. She faced more tragedy in her life than most in real life and she really became the strongest young lady because of it. I admire her and put her at the top of my FAVORITE HEROINE OF ALL TIME. As much as I love the whole book, the last half was the best. It does have an HEA but don’t be fooled…you need like 10 boxes of tissues and beware; you probably won’t be able to breathe through most of it. But, you HAVE to read this. I encourage ALL ROMANCE LOVERS to read this! You won’t regret it! It will stay with you the rest of your life! “He always was someone. Because the core of the sweet gum tree never changes. Like Nick, the deep red wood stays true to its nature. Strong, and steady, and pure.” ~Alix~ “I promise you this. I’ll love you until the day I die even if I have to live without you. And if it’s fifty years from now, you come home, Nick Anderson. Do you hear me? I’ll be waiting on you.” ~Alix~ Those that have read this......we need to form a petition for Katherine to write a novella in Nick's POV. I want to read it sooooooo bad!!!! I want to be in his sexy amazing head and see what he was feeling during this story. We'll all be an emotional wreck for days but I'm already a wreck as it is, so it won't be any different! Ahhh, Nick Anderson...where have you been all my life?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Val ⚓️ Shameless Non-Snowflake ⚓️

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Re-read 11/23/14...Still powerful...still pissed off... 5 Pissed Me the F&$k Off Stars This book actually made me create a whole new shelf: my pissed me the fuck off shelf. And yet, I'm giving it 5 stars. Believe me, I am as confused as you. I knew immediately after reading this that I was either gonna rate this 1 star or 5 stars, because I had a love/hate relationship going on with this thing. The whole time I'm reading this. And yet, I couldn't put the damn thing down. I stayed up late and Re-read 11/23/14...Still powerful...still pissed off... 5 Pissed Me the F&$k Off Stars This book actually made me create a whole new shelf: my pissed me the fuck off shelf. And yet, I'm giving it 5 stars. Believe me, I am as confused as you. I knew immediately after reading this that I was either gonna rate this 1 star or 5 stars, because I had a love/hate relationship going on with this thing. The whole time I'm reading this. And yet, I couldn't put the damn thing down. I stayed up late and am now sleep deprived. Always the sign of a winner. Now excuse me while I rant. This was one of those story lines that I love: the whole "we fall in love as children" that sucks me in my every time. I already knew I love that shtick; however, what I did NOT realize until I read this book is that I loathe the "I am going to be a martyr and make myself and everyone around me miserable as a result" shtick. LOATHE it. I get it. You wanna be all sacrificial for the ones you love. I can respect that. But we gotta draw the line somewhere, damn it. Nick? Not my favorite. I get that he wanted to help Lindsey (fuck that bitch by the way). But when you sacrifice your entire life because someone else refuses to take responsibility for their's? Hell to the no. He didn't need to take the fall for Lindsey. If they had just been honest and told the truth about the rape, it wouldn't have been any worse for Lindsey. She still would have been pregnant and ended up 5150 (that's cop code for "hold pending crazy", a la Britney Spears). In fact, maybe being HONEST about what happened might have been healing for her. But no, Nick had to ruin his life, Alix's life, Hugh's life, Jenna's life...you get the idea. In my opinion, Nick continuously chose to be a martyr for Lindsey instead of being a man for Alix. He kept choosing Lindsey. I know, I know...I should have sympathy for Lindsey. But I don't. Call me cold and callous (because I am), but I just don't have patience for people who refuse to help themselves out. I get that she had a shitty, neglected childhood. But cry me a river, lots of fucking people have. Using your childhood to make excuses for shitty behavior for the rest of your life makes about as much sense to me as this does: Because she refused to give herself an assist and leave town or - I don't know - CALL THE POLICE, she was basically the catalyst for the ruination of many lives, not just her own. It annoyed the shit out of me and I have no patience for it. Overall though, this book sucked me in, it was well written, it had solid, defined characters and I loved the reminiscent Southern vibe weaved throughout. And it takes talent to make a reader love and hate an entire book at the same time. Well done, Ms. Allred!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Smitten's Book Blog

    Dumbfounded. Gobsmacked. Speechless. Blown away. Overwhelmed... <<< That was me after finishing The Sweet Gum Tree at 3am this morning. What an absolutely stunning book! I picked it up yesterday afternoon and didn't put it down until the very last page. Absolutely amazing. There aren't enough adjectives for me to express how much I loved this book. I cried. Quite a lot. You know when you're reading a book and you know you're going to get your heart broken, but you just can't help turn Dumbfounded. Gobsmacked. Speechless. Blown away. Overwhelmed... <<< That was me after finishing The Sweet Gum Tree at 3am this morning. What an absolutely stunning book! I picked it up yesterday afternoon and didn't put it down until the very last page. Absolutely amazing. There aren't enough adjectives for me to express how much I loved this book. I cried. Quite a lot. You know when you're reading a book and you know you're going to get your heart broken, but you just can't help turn the pages... and you can feel your soul investing it's every ounce into the characters and their stories. Your emotions slipping through your fingers and out of your control, sucked in by the words on the page... that was this book. "I'm Frank Anderson's son and I live in a junkyard. Who'd want to marry me?" "I'll marry you," I told him decisively. "That way, we can both have kids someday." He grinned, those dimples emerging in a blaze of glory. "Yeah, you probably would." This was one of those books that makes my other half grumble "You and that bloody Kindle," because I don't react to any conversation, chaos or prodding. Nick and Alix's story is so emotional. By 50% I felt like I'd already read an entire book. It was torturous. The love in the book is both palpable and painful. It's an example of innocent people being pulled in so many directions, torn apart and broken down due to circumstances beyond their control... due to their own honor, integrity and goodness, but the poison of others around them. "I promise you this. I'll love you until the day I die even if I have to live without you. And if it's fifty years from now, you come home, Nick Anderson. Do you hear me? I'll be waiting on you." Alix falls in love with Nick from an early age, when she decides to 'save' him from his abusive, low-life excuse for a father. The story follows them through childhood and teenage years, until they reach early adulthood... which tears them straight down the middle. "Nick? Have you ever..." "No. I've thought about it, but it never seemed right." "You better wait on me, damn it." "I don't think I have much choice. You're the only one I've ever wanted, Alix, the only one I'll ever want. That's a promise." Despite his intense love for Alix, Nick is a protector and he can't help but gravitate towards this role. He has dark secrets that he can't share with Alix and tragedy strikes, forcing Nick to leave town and leave Alix. And then all hell breaks loose in part two of this desperate story. "I'm sorry, Nick," I whispered, slipping his pendant from my neck. "I didn't know what else to do." I thought I was distraught when Nick had to leave... I had no idea what was coming. Oh my goodness, my poor battered, bruised heart. It took a beating. Without giving anything away, all I will say is... Katie. Oh my God, I ugly cried like a goodun! But I always say, I don't having my heart torn out, ripped to pieces and stomped all over, as long as it's put back together and restored by the end of the book. And I can promise that this does have the most satisfying happy-ever-after, ever! "God, I can't lose you again." His whisper was harsh, filled with pain. "Not now, when I've waited so long to hold you. I think it would kill me. But I'm so damn scared you'll hate me when you find out the truth." Alix is brilliant. She's great as a child, ballsy and comical, always getting up to mischief and into trouble due to her curious nature. And as she grows up, she becomes an amazing young woman. She faces so much trauma in her life and watching her slip away is awful, but she's strong and resilient and makes you root for her to pull through. I'd read enough to know that one of the symptoms of grief was a deep anger at the loved one who'd died, anger that impaired your judgement, made you want to scream and curse because they'd left you. But Nick hadn't died, and I didn't realize that I was suffering the symptoms of grief. I think it's safe to say, I am completely in love with Nick. Bless him! What a wonderful man. He made mistakes, yes, but oh wow, if every man was as good as Nick Anderson, what an amazing place the world would be. "The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. And you couldn't be indifferent to him if your life depended on it." The book ends with the perfect perfect epilogue. I don't need to say any more than that, it's just perfect. This was a 5+ star read for me. I'm going to go now and look into buying it in paperback because I'm going to force it upon anyone who will give me the time of day. I know a lot of my GR friends have already read it but a lot still have it on their TBR list... if that's you, bump it up and make a priority. If you haven't marked this as 'to read', I strongly recommend that you do. It's honestly amazing and so beautiful and it's certainly one that will sit with me for a long long time to come. A sweet gum tree is the chameleon of wood, it's corky exterior hiding it's inner ability to imitate anything from cherry to mahogany. But it's real value, one unrealized by most people, is it's deep red heart, steady and strong. To read more reviews go to my Book Blog: http://smittensbookblog.wordpress.com/ Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SmittenSC Find me on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/smittensc/ Join in the chat on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/427743...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    You have to read this UTTERLY MAGNINIFICENT book!! Nick and Alix's love story will compell you like no other. This is the book I have wanted to read since I can't even remenber. What I loved most about it was all the emotions it induced in me...but most of all, I could not get enough of Nick, Alix and their love... This is one of the, hands down, most beautiful books I have ever read. It is actually one of the best books I ever had the pleasure of reading ever,period. This book made me feel You have to read this UTTERLY MAGNINIFICENT book!! Nick and Alix's love story will compell you like no other. This is the book I have wanted to read since I can't even remenber. What I loved most about it was all the emotions it induced in me...but most of all, I could not get enough of Nick, Alix and their love... This is one of the, hands down, most beautiful books I have ever read. It is actually one of the best books I ever had the pleasure of reading ever,period. This book made me feel things hardly any books do. The writing was fantastic, the caracters were amazing and the story, description and development was wonderful. I completely and utterly fell in love with Nick and Alix´s love story. From the moment they met as children until the book stops, 28 years later.It grabs an hold on you and don´t let go. I was literally on the edge of my seat while I read this, with a racing heart. Even now, a few days later, I can´t stop thinking about it. I so wish the author could have given us a little more details but I devoured and savoured every word while reading, and I am satisfied how it all turned out in the end. I would really like to continue to read about these amazing caracters in a sequel. Why oh why, couldn´t it have been longer? I wish there were more books like this, it really touched my heart. It is books like THE SWEET GUM TREE that is my reason for reading, because every once in a while you stumbles across pearls like this. PERFECTION DEFINED. Simply BREATHTAKING and TERRIFIC. It is a must read. Go and pick it up today! Please! Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster..... I have a new favorite author and her name is Katherine Allred. “He always was someone. Because the core of the sweet gum tree never changes. Like Nick, the deep red wood stays true to its nature. Strong, and steady, and pure.”

  11. 4 out of 5

    NMmomof4

    5 Stars (Originally Read 3/25/2015) 4.5 Stars (Re-Read 8/1/2017) Overall Opinion: This will definitely be staying on my favorites shelf after this re-read! I ate this book right up the second time just like I remember doing the first! I was actually worried that I would not feel the emotions that I did the first time I read it, because I knew what was going to happen. While I didn't blubber cry (like I remember doing the first time), I did shed quite a bit of tears still! That tells me that 5 Stars (Originally Read 3/25/2015) 4.5 Stars (Re-Read 8/1/2017) Overall Opinion: This will definitely be staying on my favorites shelf after this re-read! I ate this book right up the second time just like I remember doing the first! I was actually worried that I would not feel the emotions that I did the first time I read it, because I knew what was going to happen. While I didn't blubber cry (like I remember doing the first time), I did shed quite a bit of tears still! That tells me that it's just that good! I hate doing it (because I really did love the rest of the book), but I'm going to lower my rating to 4.5 stars. I can't justify a 5 star rating with an ending that felt rushed like it did (see below). Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Alix and Nick's story. They meet officially when Alix is 8 and Nick is 10 when she goes to his father's junkyard to get a car part. They form a unlikely friendship that holds through the years but devolops into something more when they grow older. There is a tragic event that separates them, and when Nick returns ~15 years later he doesn't get the welcome home he was expecting. There are some cute moments, some sad moments, and some sweet moments...and they get a HEA ending. POV: This was told in Alix's POV. Overall Pace of Story: Good until the end (see closure section). I never skimmed, and I thought it flowed well otherwise. Instalove: No, they've known each other for years. H rating: 4 stars. Nick. I liked him. He was loyal to a fault, but I appreciated that about him (even when I wanted to shake him a few times). h rating: 4 stars. Alix. I liked her. I especially liked young Alix! She was strong and feisty. Sadness level: Moderate/high. I cried but I didn't need any tissues this go-round, but I definitely remember crying a lot more the first time! Push/Pull: Yes (view spoiler)[The H pushes away in the past, and the h pushes away in the present. Both pursue the relationship at times. (hide spoiler)] Heat level: Low. The scenes were non-descriptive and more about the emotional connection between the couple. Descriptive sex: No. This is a perfect example of how fade-to-black or non-descriptive sex scenes can work with a book! The connection was so strong otherwise that I didn't even miss it! Safe sex: No mentions of any safe sex specifics. OW/OM drama: Yes (view spoiler)[There is a OW that grew up always around the H. She causes some drama for the couple. (hide spoiler)] Sex scene with OW or OM: No Cheating: Not between mcs (view spoiler)[ Side characters, and the h is dating OM awhile she is secretly with (and intimate with) the H. (hide spoiler)] Separation: Yes (view spoiler)[They are separated for about 15 years. The h was married to OM, and there is mention of her being intimate with him. The H says he went on dates but i felt like it was implied that it never went further than dates with those OW. (hide spoiler)] Possible Triggers: Yes (view spoiler)[Alcoholic and abusive parent (H - aftermath), prostitution (side character off page), rape/murder (side character off page), attempted rape (on page), unexpected pregnancy (on page), and loss of child to SIDS (off page - through many mentions). (hide spoiler)] Closure: This had pretty good closure, but I wanted more! I would call it a HEA...but it was super quick, and I wanted to experience more of that happiness after all the bad things I went through with them! How I got it: I paid $0.99 for it back in 2015 on Amazon. Safety: This one should be Safe for most safety gang readers (view spoiler)[ - Does Not have cheating by mcs - Does Not have a descriptive sex scene with OW/OM - Does have both the h and H pushing away - Does have a separation between the h and H - Does Not have abuse by mcs - Does have a HEA ending (hide spoiler)]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    5 Broken Hearts Stars! Reread 11/19 Still a 5 star read for me! I loved this one just as much the second time around! Alix French was 8 years old when she went to the scrap yard with her grandfather (Judge) and met 10 year old Nick Anderson. While Nick is getting a part off an old truck Alix sees that Nick has been beaten by his father and runs to get some bee balm and tends to his wounds. Their friendship grows from this act of kindness and so the journey begins. Alix is from a very respected 5 Broken Hearts Stars! Reread 11/19 Still a 5 star read for me! I loved this one just as much the second time around! Alix French was 8 years old when she went to the scrap yard with her grandfather (Judge) and met 10 year old Nick Anderson. While Nick is getting a part off an old truck Alix sees that Nick has been beaten by his father and runs to get some bee balm and tends to his wounds. Their friendship grows from this act of kindness and so the journey begins. Alix is from a very respected country living family. Nick is not that fortunate. His father is the mean town drunk that everyone hates. I loved how easily Alix's family became Nicks family. His escape from his abusive father. Judge sets Nick up an old room in the barn for him to use whenever his dad was drunk and on the war path. Of course this room would be where Nick and Alix's friendship grows and eventually turns into more. Where they spend many nights talking and reading and eventually exploring each other. When the night comes to finally tell her family that her and Nick are going to be together Nicks father gets shot. Nick gets sent away to the Army. Nick tells Alix to live her life and forget about him. A few weeks later Alix finds out she's pregnant. She marries a man she doesn't love. One that doesn't care that the baby isn't his. Many years later and when Alix's divorce is almost final Nick shows up in town. Alix is not the same person she was before Nick left. She was a naïve child who thought love could solve anything, who believed in happily-ever-after endings, and that justice and honor always win out. She believed in the integrity of others and never questioned their motives. She didn’t stand a chance and she’s better off dead.” ~Alix Nick is still very much in love with Alix. He is determined to win back the woman he let go 15 years ago. Alix will be a tough one to win back. A lot happened while Nick was away and Alix is emotionally detached from everyone. But Nick is determined to tear down those bricks even if he has to do it one at a time. “Oh, I always knew what I wanted. I just didn’t think I’d ever get it, didn’t think I deserved to get it. I was the son of the town drunk, the guy who was raised in a junkyard. I was terrified the filth would rub off on the best thing that ever happened to me. And because of my own insecurity, I ended up hurting both of us. If I had it to do over again, I’d change a lot of things. But I don’t, and you have every reason to hate me for leaving you. The only thing I can do is ask you to forgive me.” ~Nick I loved this story. I was up all night reading it. I hate to say I figured out what really happened and why Nick was sent away. I was sad that these two wasted so much of their life apart because they didn't communicate with each other. Don't get me started on the one Nick was protecting!!! Instead of feeling sorry for her I wanted to reach into my kindle and grab her and shake the shit out of her! So much time wasted that could of been spent living with the one you've loved your whole life:( I was so happy with the epilogue! Thank you sweet jesus we got one!! If you are like me and love friends to lovers this will be a winner for you! It brought out all my feels. Thank you so much for the recommend A! It's going on my favorite shelf!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robin Hill

    5 stars The Sweet Gum Tree has been in my TBR forever, and good thing I already owned it because you can't even buy it right now. I almost feel guilty for reviewing it. "Read this book; it's awesome! Oh, wait, you don't already have it? Sucks for you..." Rumor has it, the author is coming out with a new and improved version, fresh with a not-so-eyeroll-ey cover. Thank God. That cover did this book a serious injustice. It was the sole reason it took me so damn long to pick it up. Don't be like me. 5 stars The Sweet Gum Tree has been in my TBR forever, and good thing I already owned it because you can't even buy it right now. I almost feel guilty for reviewing it. "Read this book; it's awesome! Oh, wait, you don't already have it? Sucks for you..." Rumor has it, the author is coming out with a new and improved version, fresh with a not-so-eyeroll-ey cover. Thank God. That cover did this book a serious injustice. It was the sole reason it took me so damn long to pick it up. Don't be like me. If you have the opportunity, read this. Right fucking now. AND DON'T READ THE BLURB. It gives way too much away! Just go in blind and don't forget your tissues. The Sweet Gum Tree is epic. It spans decades. It will make you LOL, swoon, grin, and sob...but rest assured it ends in the sweetest of HEAs.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sharon ∞❥ is an emotional book junkie ❥∞

    I. Could. Not. Put. This. Book. Down!!! If you're in the mood for a gripping, emotional roller coaster love story, then this is the book for you. But I'm exhausted!! Not just from staying up late because I couldn't put the book down but also from the emotional drain this book puts you through! But it's so worth it! The story is about the growing friendship of Alix and Nick. They first meet when Alix is eight years old and Nick is ten. Alix is from a decently wealthy, high moral family and Nick is I. Could. Not. Put. This. Book. Down!!! If you're in the mood for a gripping, emotional roller coaster love story, then this is the book for you. But I'm exhausted!! Not just from staying up late because I couldn't put the book down but also from the emotional drain this book puts you through! But it's so worth it! The story is about the growing friendship of Alix and Nick. They first meet when Alix is eight years old and Nick is ten. Alix is from a decently wealthy, high moral family and Nick is from the wrong side of town. But Alix sees something in him from the first moment she lays eyes on him and Nick is drawn to her as well. I loved reading about their growing friendship and all the ups and downs. The author does such a good job detailing everything that it was so easy to picture Alix and Nick and fall in love with them. Even though I thought it was amazing, that doesn't mean there aren't some problems. As much as I enjoy trying to figure out what's going to happen in the book, Katherine Allred loves to drop bombs before they happen! Just as I thinking something was going to go a certain way... BAM...there's something else. It was hard to get used to and in a weird way, I came to like it. There were some other problems, namely communication! You basically grow up with these characters, hearing them tell each other everything and then they withhold the most important things. I guess it wouldn't be a story without it. I can't say more without giving things away but I definitely recommend this book! Loved this: "He always was someone. Because the core of the sweet gum tree never changes. Like Nick, the deep red wood stays true to its nature. Strong, and steady, and pure."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick Pageant

    This thing was like a fricking telenovela... and I LOVE telenovelas! Thanks to Alona for reading this with me. This book tells the story of a girl who grows up in a small Arkansas town. She falls in love with the wrong boy, but, of course, he's really the right boy. There are lots of cruel twists of fate: ABUSE! SURPRISE PREGNANCIES! SHAM MARRIAGES! MURDER! I really enjoyed this book. The writing was great. I loved each and every ridiculous plot twist. I didn't mind that I stayed up until 3am to This thing was like a fricking telenovela... and I LOVE telenovelas! Thanks to Alona for reading this with me. This book tells the story of a girl who grows up in a small Arkansas town. She falls in love with the wrong boy, but, of course, he's really the right boy. There are lots of cruel twists of fate: ABUSE! SURPRISE PREGNANCIES! SHAM MARRIAGES! MURDER! I really enjoyed this book. The writing was great. I loved each and every ridiculous plot twist. I didn't mind that I stayed up until 3am to finish it. I loved the predictable ending. This thing was a great, soapy, schmaltz-fest that is highly recommended. I barely even noticed the distinct lack of the extra penises I usually expect in a story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mikee (ReadWithMikee)

    ❝"No one should have to go through life with only half a heart," he whispered.❞ To be completely honest with you all, I never would've picked this book up for its cover. I don't particularly judge too much on a book's cover but it reminded me of those indie romance novels with half naked men and women clinging to each other plastered right on the front cover. XD BUT I decided to put my hesitations aside and dove right into this book. After bringing The Sweet Gum Tree to a close, I had no ❝"No one should have to go through life with only half a heart," he whispered.❞ To be completely honest with you all, I never would've picked this book up for its cover. I don't particularly judge too much on a book's cover but it reminded me of those indie romance novels with half naked men and women clinging to each other plastered right on the front cover. XD BUT I decided to put my hesitations aside and dove right into this book. After bringing The Sweet Gum Tree to a close, I had no regrets except putting this book off for as long as I did. It truly was a hidden treasure. I haven't been able to read and finish a book in two weeks but The Sweet Gum Tree brought me out of my reading funk. It wasn't the greatest love story I've ever read about but it's definitely up there. I absolutely loved the Southern setting and the family bond that the French family had. We get to see Alix and Nick grow from eight and ten years old to their thirties fifteen years down the line. Although this book was mainly about Alix and Nick, we do get to witness their friends and family overcome their own struggles in life. I have no complaints with the exception of two key factors that made me sick off a star: the pacing and the miscommunication. I genuinely wish that this book was longer. For a shorter book, it did handle pacing really well. I see myself complaining about instalove if it was any other book but surprisingly, it worked in The Sweet Gum Tree. However, there were times where I did feel that things were a bit rushed especially towards the end. The book ended the way I hoped it would but we just kinda glossed over it rather than taking the time to cherish what us readers have been waiting for for the past few hundred pages. Secondly, a lot of everyone's conflict was because of the lack of communication. They all could've avoided wasting so much time hating one another if they were honest about how they felt instead of just keeping it all bottled up. It was frustrating seeing everyone inflict their own problems onto themselves. The Sweet Gum Tree really did come as a surprise to me. I never expected to finish this book within a few hours nor did I even expect to like this book at all! I was able to predict everything that happened and that was a bit of a bummer but I still enjoyed this book nonetheless. I think this book is definitely worth a read. It's one of the better love stories I've read about in awhile and that means a lot coming from me, a major pessimist when it comes to reading romance novels. XD

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anne OK

    This is one of the best romance books I've ever read. Set in the south and begins when the lead characters are children drawn together by tragedy. Great storyline with wonderful characters. This is a book I read over and over - it is that good! And my treasured copy will always have a special place on my keeper shelf. Update on 1/8/17 NOTE: I first read Alix and Nick's story back in 2005 -- long before I joined Goodreads. I've read it many times over since then. However, I've never posted a This is one of the best romance books I've ever read. Set in the south and begins when the lead characters are children drawn together by tragedy. Great storyline with wonderful characters. This is a book I read over and over - it is that good! And my treasured copy will always have a special place on my keeper shelf. Update on 1/8/17 NOTE: I first read Alix and Nick's story back in 2005 -- long before I joined Goodreads. I've read it many times over since then. However, I've never posted a decent review or added it to my list of books read here. Today I am going back to the south to see old and dear friends. Alix and Nick have been calling my name once again. And when I'm finished, I'm making it one of my first goals in 2017 to give The Sweet Gum Tree a proper place on my Goodreads list of books read with an updated review as well. How could I not? It's one of my very favorite books to ever have had the pleasure of reading.

  18. 5 out of 5

    D.G.

    This book was very frustrating. It read almost like fiction it was so emotionally wrenching, but it also had one of the stupidest Big Misunderstanding plots Ive ever read, and a really weak characterization particularly on the heros part. Maybe it was because the book was written in first person, but while the heroine was really well drawn, the hero acted like a dim-wit and not at all like the man he was supposed to be. The hero is described as smart, admirable and crazy in love with the heroine This book was very frustrating. It read almost like fiction it was so emotionally wrenching, but it also had one of the stupidest Big Misunderstanding plots I’ve ever read, and a really weak characterization particularly on the hero’s part. Maybe it was because the book was written in first person, but while the heroine was really well drawn, the hero acted like a dim-wit and not at all like the man he was supposed to be. The hero is described as smart, admirable and crazy in love with the heroine but his actions brand him as somewhat dumb, proud and slightly dishonorable. His situation could be illustrated as follows: imagine that you find a stick of dynamite at the end of a long, lit fuse. You find that you cannot extinguish the flame so what would you do? You might be panicked for the first few moments but after a while, you’ll figure out that there’s time to find a solution and you should look for somebody else that could take care of the dynamite and you would get the hell away from there. In this case, our ‘smart’ hero just covered the stick of dynamite and stood there watching until it exploded! Then when the going got tough, he disregarded the heroine’s feelings because he was being ‘noble’ when in reality he was insecure because of his background. Of course, his nobility never extended to the heroine and he never gave a second thought to his dishonorable behavior towards her. Because what would you call a guy that is given a place in a family for 10 years, is fed, housed and protected and then f*cks the daughter of the house on the sly WITHOUT USING PROTECTION? If that’s not dishonorable, I don’t know what it is. The heroine on the other hand, wasn’t perfect but she made more sense. Her anger at the hero wasn’t rational but it was totally justifiable. If it would have been me, I’d have stab in him in the balls as soon as he got into town. Another clue that this guy was, well, clueless, was that he didn’t wonder why the heroine hated him so much. He was totally surprised by every revelation like those things never even occurred to him. Because you know, having sex never results in children, so of course it never dawned on him that he could have left her in the lurch with a bun in the oven. I could go on and on about the issues I had with this book. How all the characters except the heroine seemed to be frozen in time without growing up, how the law enforcement aspect wasn't even addressed or the way the issue with Jenna was so easily resolved but I think I’ll end up my tirade mentioning how tiresome was the author’s penchant for foreshadowing. Several times per chapter we see pronouncements like “if I knew what would happen, I’d never have eaten that banana and thrown away the peel.” Note to the author: this kind of literary device is effective when used a few times per book but it becomes very irritating when used so often. We readers know that there will be conflict in the book; you don’t have to warn us every single time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natasha is a Book Junkie

    Hands down, the most ENJOYABLE book I have read this year. I know that I say that a lot and I do read a lot of incredible books but I guess the reason why I am making such a statement about this particular book is because it had me from the first page. I was smiling from the moment I started reading it because I immediately had a gut feeling that I was going to love it. It was just my kind of book from the get-go. The more I kept reading, the more I was certain that it was going to be a Hands down, the most ENJOYABLE book I have read this year. I know that I say that a lot and I do read a lot of incredible books but I guess the reason why I am making such a statement about this particular book is because it had me from the first page. I was smiling from the moment I started reading it because I immediately had a gut feeling that I was going to love it. It was just my kind of book from the get-go. The more I kept reading, the more I was certain that it was going to be a heart-wrenching journey, but nothing prepared me for everything that happened in this book. Katherine Allred has such a unique writing style – the only way I can describe it is by comparing it to someone giving you a shoulder massage, getting you to slowly relax and find your happy place, and then suddenly slapping you on the back of the head. I felt like that throughout the book. Just when you think that you can relax again – slap! And the worse slaps were the ‘pre-emptive’ ones where Ms Allred throws a hint here and there, usually at the end of a chapter, of what is to come and it never sounds good. This story had so many ‘gasp’ moments that I had to remind myself to breathe. The book is written from Alix’s POV and that never changes. However, what changes is her voice – we meet her when she is 8 years old and her POV then matches her age. As she grows older, so does her POV. I just loved that. We get to fall in love with this vivacious and kind little girl who sees the world through such a pure and untainted filter. She meets young Nick, two years her senior, and she immediately wants to save him from his horrific life. She offers him kindness and friendship rather than pity and he slowly becomes Alix’s whole world. While they are young, their bond is purely a friendship but as they grow older their relationship blossoms into a lovely romance. Are you relaxed yet because here come the ‘slaps’? Nick’s father is shot, Nick has to leave town, Nick leaves town, Alix is heart-broken, Alix is pregnant, Alix marries someone else. What follows made me shake my head and cry “No, no, no, no …” so many times that I got dizzy in the end. I won’t spoil the story for anyone by telling you what happens next because I think the book’s synopsis already reveals too much for my taste, but I will tell you that you will laugh, you will curse and you will cry like a baby. For me, this book is about whether love truly conquers all. It is about our ability to forgive unimaginable hurts and put love first. Alix and Nick’s story spans over a long period of time and the only thing that we are truly certain about throughout the book is Alix’s love for Nick. I really liked Alix as a character and as a woman – she followed her heart and truly did what she thought was best. Not just for her but for everyone she loved. She goes through hell and I just expected her to explode one day, it was inevitable. You can only accumulate so much pain and sorrow inside you before it starts spilling out. I was angry when she was angry, I was heart-broken when she was heart-broken, and I wanted to scream when she just held it all inside. Nick is truly as perfect as you’re ever going to get in a leading man, in my humble opinion. At no point did I doubt his love for Alix but I did question some of his actions. He made mistakes but he had his reasons and they were always born out of concern for others. He did not consider himself good enough for Alix, he loved her so damn much but he wanted to become the man she would be proud of. I hate that he left but I understand why he left and let’s not forget that he came back. I suspect that a man like Nick would carry the burden of his mistakes for the rest of his life and I was happy that they allowed forgiveness to heal their broken hearts rather than allowing hurt and regret to torture them forever. The ending was just perfect, I think it couldn’t have ended better. It takes time to erase years of pain and it takes time for broken hearts to heal completely and start embracing happiness. It wasn’t rushed, it was realistic and it satisfied the HEA junkie in me. A beautifully written book, an elegant and experienced writing style, a delightful story that you will carry in your heart for quite some time, I promise you. I would give this book 10 stars if I could! ~ N ♥ See this review on my blog! | Follow me on Facebook!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Liz)

    Okay then. Do NOT try reading this story without at least two boxes of Kleenex by your side. And, prepare for emotional exhaustion when you're finished (though, in the very best way). It's sweet, funny, endearing, heartbreaking, and ultimately full of love. It's truly an emotion-driven masterpiece, in my humble opinion. This story draws you in so deeply that it's a shock to the system when you emerge back into real life. As a story, it attracts and satisfies because we are all emotional Okay then. Do NOT try reading this story without at least two boxes of Kleenex by your side. And, prepare for emotional exhaustion when you're finished (though, in the very best way). It's sweet, funny, endearing, heartbreaking, and ultimately full of love. It's truly an emotion-driven masterpiece, in my humble opinion. This story draws you in so deeply that it's a shock to the system when you emerge back into real life. As a story, it attracts and satisfies because we are all emotional creatures, and able to identify, to varying degrees, with the strength of feeling evoked. It's so well written (and that's the true gift) that, while you're consciously following the characters' lives, you're subconsciously absorbing the story through the filter of your own life experience and emotions. When a story can do that....well, in my life, it's been pretty rare. Incredibly moving story and, absolutely, a 5-star read!

  21. 4 out of 5

    peachygirl

    A bittersweet story of love and loss with unbelievably selfless and stupid characters! As much as I loved Katherine's mind-blowing writing, I couldn't stand the tangles of responsibilities and relationships every character wove around themselves. Or the half truths and whole lies. It was like they all wanted to be miserable. And it was ridiculous how Jenna got away with sleeping with Alix's husband with a pat on her back after a mere sob story. Not counting his hundred other affairs. Saintly A bittersweet story of love and loss with unbelievably selfless and stupid characters! As much as I loved Katherine's mind-blowing writing, I couldn't stand the tangles of responsibilities and relationships every character wove around themselves. Or the half truths and whole lies. It was like they all wanted to be miserable. And it was ridiculous how Jenna got away with sleeping with Alix's husband with a pat on her back after a mere sob story. Not counting his hundred other affairs. Saintly Alix, meh. Overall a decent read, but not something I'd recommend to someone looking for a good time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    WOW! The Sweet Gum Tree is an emotional, gripping tale of a love so raw and bittersweet that will leave you breathless. This will grab your heart and take it on one fantastic ride. Nick This is beautifully written, with characters that are realistic and wonderfully flawed. For all you romance fans, you can't go wrong with this. I highly recommend it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    When I started the Sweet Gum Tree I knew from the moment I read the first paragraph that I was in for an exceptional book, and I was right. The 1st person narrative of "Alix French," the heroine, was soothing with her descriptive, velvet tone of life in a small Arkansas town. Her story begins when she is 8 years old and meets the 10 year old hero, "Nick Anderson." Nick is from the wrong side of the tracks, with a disasterous family life of only a father, who is the "town drunk," and who When I started the Sweet Gum Tree I knew from the moment I read the first paragraph that I was in for an exceptional book, and I was right. The 1st person narrative of "Alix French," the heroine, was soothing with her descriptive, velvet tone of life in a small Arkansas town. Her story begins when she is 8 years old and meets the 10 year old hero, "Nick Anderson." Nick is from the wrong side of the tracks, with a disasterous family life of only a father, who is the "town drunk," and who arbitrarily beats him. Alix's family, on the other hand, is the kind of family Nick only wishes he could have; and when Alix decides to invite Nick to their church social, her "school-girl crush," is mightily established. As I continued reading, not only was I loving an incredibly written story, but I also started realizing that I was falling in love with the characters as well. The author pulls you in, almost without your knowledge, and you find yourself not wanting to stop. The development of each character was brilliant. Their association to the main characters only added a special warmth and understanding of, "we care what people think," small town, U.S.A. Towards the end of Alix's story, there were several times I wanted to shake her ever-loving head off! (It seriously would have done her more good rolling on the floor!) Her actions, unfortunately, threw the flow of the story off a bit for me, but not enough to heavily influence my 5 star rating. This is definitely a book in my top 5 favorites and even though it was a loan, I plan on buying it to have on my own shelves. It was simply an incredible read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    • Lisa •

    This story was beautiful, a true honest to the heart love story. The author could not have allowed the reader to feel, hurt or love more than if it was actually happening to yourself. The character development was so thorough and captivating. The story had a depth and flow. It broke my heart and then picked it right up again. This is a story that has sat collecting dust on my TBR shelf since joining Good reads. On My usual quest to find a 5 star book, my friend Anna recommended that I read this This story was beautiful, a true honest to the heart love story. The author could not have allowed the reader to feel, hurt or love more than if it was actually happening to yourself. The character development was so thorough and captivating. The story had a depth and flow. It broke my heart and then picked it right up again. This is a story that has sat collecting dust on my TBR shelf since joining Good reads. On My usual quest to find a 5 star book, my friend Anna recommended that I read this with out delay, and I was not disappointed. There is so much to this story, that I couldn't give it justice in trying to sum it up, but if like me you cant resist a romance story, that consumes your time and thoughts and you haven't yet read this then I would whole heartedly recommend that you get one - clicking. I cried, laughed and was utterly swept up in the story of life and love. Moving, captivating, soul searching ~ a gripping love story about second chances,and opening up your heart ... 5 stars are not enough.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ♡Karlyn P♡

    I think they call this kind of a book a 'sleeper', where it slowly creeps into popularity one review at a time until it becomes a bona fide and popular hit. Written in 2002, published in 2005, and it just now seems to be finding its reading public. In the last year this book was recommended repeatedly both here and at Amazon, and I am so glad to have read it. Simply wonderful, and what a surprising and strong epilogue! Sniff, sniff... I thought it lived up to the hype. If you like historicals I think they call this kind of a book a 'sleeper', where it slowly creeps into popularity one review at a time until it becomes a bona fide and popular hit. Written in 2002, published in 2005, and it just now seems to be finding its reading public. In the last year this book was recommended repeatedly both here and at Amazon, and I am so glad to have read it. Simply wonderful, and what a surprising and strong epilogue! Sniff, sniff... I thought it lived up to the hype. If you like historicals with a southern charm, a small town simple kind of setting, and an emotional storyline that will pull out some tears, this one is for you. I was impressed.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alexis *Reality Bites*

    Spoiler Free Review 5 STARS Genre: Adult Romance -->Read This Book!!! It's A MUST READ!! THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ!!!! I wept like a baby when i finished this book. I consider this a must read, it kind of reminds me of Beautiful Disaster b/cause the book summary barely scratches the surface of what this book is about. The author manages to take you on this journey that will completely suck you in. I fell in love with all the characters both main and secondary and i needed to Spoiler Free Review 5 STARS Genre: Adult Romance -->Read This Book!!! It's A MUST READ!! THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ!!!! I wept like a baby when i finished this book. I consider this a must read, it kind of reminds me of Beautiful Disaster b/cause the book summary barely scratches the surface of what this book is about. The author manages to take you on this journey that will completely suck you in. I fell in love with all the characters both main and secondary and i needed to know how all their stories ended and the author does it with a beautiful Epilogue. This story is told in two parts the first half starting when Alix(Heroine)at just 8 yrs old when she meets Nick Anderson(hero)the son of the town drunk and the owner of a junkyard. Nick is 10. Alix of course comes from a nice respectable family in the town, one day while out with her granpa the Judge at a junkyard she see's welts from a beating Nick got from his dad and everything changes. As the story continues you watch the two grow and come to fall in love with one another but one fateful night in the junkyard changes everything again and these two will never be the same. The second part of the journey shows how Alix has to go through heartbreak after heartache and lost to get back to love. This book is not just a romance like i said before it is a journey it deals with some deep issues such as abuse. Just when you figure one peice of the puzzle the author throws a curve ball that leaves you breathless. Family secrets are revealed and relationships are tested in every aspect. Mother/daughter Father/daughter,sister to sister, Father/son, Friendships, Aunt/neice, cousin/cousin, Boyfriend/girlfriend. READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!:D And then let's discuss it. My Ratings Characters- Lovable Writing Style- Solid Plot/Storyline- Good, at times Intense and Emotional Overall- I Loved it!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rosalinda *KRASNORADA*

    I just want to cry until I fall asleep! What a beautiful journey, I don't know how to review this book. Nick, you'll ALWAYS have a place in my heart (yeah, you'll have to share it with more guys but I promise you'll have a special place). Alix, I am kinda mad at you now but I love you anyway. Jenna, I want to read your story with (view spoiler)[ Hugh (hide spoiler)] THE CORE OF THE SWEET GUM TREE NEVER CHANGES... REVIEW TO COME if I can stop crying...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dija

    *Buddy read with Rachel. You can read her review here.* "No one should have to go through life with only half a heart." I usually judge my novels on the basis of: 1) how well I liked the characters, 2) how much I enjoyed reading about them, and 3) how emotional I felt on their behalf, or CEE (Characters, Enjoyment, and Emotions) for short. Characters - 3.5 stars: The characters are well-rounded and real, but the only problem is that I didn't like any of them. I didn't like Alix because I couldn't *Buddy read with Rachel. You can read her review here.* "No one should have to go through life with only half a heart." I usually judge my novels on the basis of: 1) how well I liked the characters, 2) how much I enjoyed reading about them, and 3) how emotional I felt on their behalf, or CEE (Characters, Enjoyment, and Emotions) for short. Characters - 3.5 stars: The characters are well-rounded and real, but the only problem is that I didn't like any of them. I didn't like Alix because I couldn't identify with her no matter how hard I tried and we simply had nothing in common. I didn't like Nick because of his "I don't deserve anything good, I'm afraid I'll taint it, better that I run away now than to hurt later" attitude. I didn't like Jenna because she was (view spoiler)[sleeping with her best friend's boyfriend, and later, husband (hide spoiler)] and I didn't like Hugh because he was a coward. Enjoyment - 2.5 stars: For the most part, I didn't enjoy reading The Sweet Gum Tree because nearly every single event was overshadowed by uneasiness. I would have enjoyed the story a million times more if I'd been given the chance to make up my thoughts myself, rather than Alix coming along after every scene and telling me not to appreciate anything because something truly bad and tragic would be happening soon, and if she'd known that beforehand, she wouldn't have done this or would have done that, etc. Throughout the novel, I was simply anxious. Not in an "OMG, I can't wait to see what happens next!" way but in an "Oh no, oh no, OH NO!!!" way. Emotions - 5 stars: Like I said earlier, I was pretty nervous while reading this. Along with that distress, however, was genuine care for the characters and sympathy for everything they went through. The beginning was simply beautiful with Alix and Nick's childhood romance and despite the rocky interval between their young love and HEA, their ending was perfect. This is an unforgettable and heartwrenching account of love, family, grief, forgiveness, and life. It's also one of the most compelling stories I've ever read. I only put this book down once, and that was because my eyes simply refused to stay open. Since I started reading it, I didn't get any peace of mind until I'd read the last page and confirmed that Alix and Nick got their HEA. I felt happy, depressed, exhilarated, restless, scared, and pure joy while reading Alix's story. Highly recommended for fans of emotional and memorable novels! Overall - 3.7/5 stars ______________________________________ "A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading." - William Styron I'm definitely a bit wiser after reading this and emotionally exhausted as well, so I suppose that makes The Sweet Gum Tree a great book. For more reviews, visit my blog.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kelli C ~ Jack Sawyer's Heart

    "4 Bless Her Heart Stars!" I don't know how I missed this little beauty, but I am thankful for the fabulous reading community here on GR's...it brought this to me as a gift! Keeping this short, this book was beautifully tragic. This is the first time I have read a Katherine Allred book and I am completely impressed with her writing style. She has light and beautiful flow that makes even the harshest of situations seem less. She created a love story for the ages that started with Alix and Nick, "4 Bless Her Heart Stars!" I don't know how I missed this little beauty, but I am thankful for the fabulous reading community here on GR's...it brought this to me as a gift! Keeping this short, this book was beautifully tragic. This is the first time I have read a Katherine Allred book and I am completely impressed with her writing style. She has light and beautiful flow that makes even the harshest of situations seem less. She created a love story for the ages that started with Alix and Nick, ages 8 and 10, and progressed through ups and downs of growing up, the ins and outs of socioeconomic differences, the beauty and pain of love. This book has all kids of amazing feels to it, and while I didn't cry...again its a me thing, I did feel deeply for most of the characters in this book. I can say that I was not 100% on board with Nick leaving. While I see the necessity of it, as the story depended on this, I did not quite get it. Then the return after 15 years...way to easy. Also, I completely felt all the horror and pain for Alix but I could not quite get her either. She was such a kind, curious, brave girl...the woman she became was so sad. I appreciated the ending wasn't an immediate and full HEA. I appreciated the struggle and the healing that needed to happen for all. Overall this will tug the heartstring of all and for me, I am glad I had the opportunity to meet Nick...he was worth all the emotional heartbreak!!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    I am totally and utterly exhausted this book is one HELL of an emotional roller coaster!! Review to come when I've had some sleep and I've finished bawling my eyes out! I'm a complete and utter mess and need to be alone for a while but damn this book is freaking AMAZING! **************************** Okay I had some sleep and in all seriously I really don't know where to begin with this review. I don't think I need to summarise the book, it is too deep and complicated and I would not be able to I am totally and utterly exhausted this book is one HELL of an emotional roller coaster!! Review to come when I've had some sleep and I've finished bawling my eyes out! I'm a complete and utter mess and need to be alone for a while but damn this book is freaking AMAZING! **************************** Okay I had some sleep and in all seriously I really don't know where to begin with this review. I don't think I need to summarise the book, it is too deep and complicated and I would not be able to stop myself from revealing spoilers if I did. Instead, I think I will write about how this book made me feel and what you will feel too...I HOPE! I really love how EPIC this book is, spanning 26 years and captivating you endlessly with all the goings on in a small southern town. But what is most remarkable about this story is how simple it is, yet so complex. It's a story of love and heartache, and redemption and forgiveness. It's about making the moment count and taking chances whether you want to or not. It's tender and sensual, torturous and agonising, heart stopping and breathtaking, and mind blowing and emotional. OMG talk about feeling every freaking emotion possible. This book really had me spent, and weakened, and vulnerable, and hurt, and excited, and elated, and laughing, and crying...no scratch that, bawling, and happy and devastated. It really was tormenting me, and fudging me up not in a bad way. I mean it's really hard to explain unless you throw yourself into this book and read it. And that's what you will do. You will become emotionally invested in these characters, especially Alix and Nick, and want, and need desperately that everything will turn out for the best. They deserve the best out of the life they were given, or better still, to right the wrongs that had affected them so. That the decisions they made will not change them or their lives, yet bring them closer to the salvation they need. Oh good Lord, but seriously, I wanted to throttle and maim, and hurt and injure someone or something while reading it LOL. Those who have read it would understand what I mean. I was heartbroken and my stomach hurt. I was fuming and livid, I was hungry for more love and tenderness, I was desperate and feverish. I'm telling you Katherine Allred is a brilliant and amazing writer. Just when I think things are going one way...BOOM she would leave you hanging at the end of the chapter thinking WTF and have you wanting to read the next chapter to find out. And before I knew it I was having the "just one more chapter" symptom and I couldn't stop. No, I didn't want to stop, I was sucked in and invested too much to just stop reading. I needed answers, I needed solutions and I needed closure. Oh, how I needed closure *falls back against the chair in exhaustion* Okay, I think this is enough for me, I have carried on like it's no body's business and it's time I sign off. I will leave you with this. This book is the very reason why I read and love books. Books like this are an addiction that I will not ever give up, EVER! I love this book with a passion. It is everything you want from a book and more, and if you have never heard of it, well, you have now. So don't put it off any longer...go out and get it, you will wonder why it took you so long. LOVE LOVE LOVE and LOVE!

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