Summer in the South: A Novel

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Cathy Holton, author of the popular Beach Trip, returns with an intriguing and mysterious tale of dark deeds and family secrets in a small Southern town.

After a personal tragedy, Chicago writer Ava Dabrowski quits her job to spend the summer in Woodburn, Tennessee, at the invitation of her old college friend Will Fraser and his two great-aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn. Her charming hosts offer Ava a chance to relax at their idyllic ancestral estate, Woodburn Hall, while working on her first novel. 

But Woodburn is anything but quiet: Ancient feuds lurk just beneath its placid surface, and modern-day rivalries emerge as Ava finds herself caught between the competing attentions of Will and his black-sheep cousin Jake. Fascinated by the family’s impressive history—their imposing house filled with treasures, and their mingling with literary lions Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner—Ava stumbles onto rumors about the darker side of the Woodburns’ legacy. Putting aside her planned novel, she turns her creative attentions to the eccentric and tragic clan, a family with more skeletons (and ghosts) in their closets than anyone could possibly imagine. As Ava struggles to write the true story of the Woodburns, she finds herself tangled in the tragic history of a mysterious Southern family whose secrets mirror her own. 
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About the author

Cathy Holton is the author of Beach Trip, Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes and The Secret Lives of the Kudzu Debutantes. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Ballantine Books
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Published on
May 24, 2011
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780345526342
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Romance / Contemporary
Fiction / Sagas
Fiction / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Mary and Ross were in Rome on a junior-year-abroad program when they had their baby, Natassia, who was conceived on a dare: “Do it with no birth control,” another couple had challenged. “We’ll do it if you do it . . .”

Mary and Ross are unmarried, ambitious, and way too young, and though smitten with their daughter, they eventually—and with regret—abdicate responsibility to Ross’s parents, who raise Natassia in the intellectually stimulating (and seemingly loving) atmosphere of their Manhattan apartment. Fifteen years later, 1989, Natassia is an Honors student and a violin player. Despite the absence of her mother, a world-class modern dancer who survives by living in the moment, and her father, a physician in the Pacific Northwest, Natassia is thriving—until her mysterious romance with a man she will not identify derails her so profoundly that her parents, grandparents, and even her godparents, Nora and Christopher, must come together to save her. A dancer, a doctor, two book editors, a painter and a psychotherapist—all are forced to turn away from and also draw upon the creative and intellectual endeavors that consume and define them. Struggling to buoy Natassia, her guardians sink along with her into the deepest darkness.

Mary, a Korean war orphan, must learn from step one how to provide the mother love she herself never received; indeed, the daughter's breakdown sparks the mother's coming-of-age. Ross, still in love with Mary after ten years’ separation, must face the consequences of his obsessions. And Nora and Christopher, burdened by a decades-old secret, use desperate measures to save Natassia—and their marriage.

Within the intimate universe of one unorthodox family, Falling in Love with Natassia explores the blurred lines between love that heals and sex that harms. These characters will shock you with how forcefully their hurt hearts demand restitution; they will mystify you with the paths they choose as they move toward recovery and redemption.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In J. R. Ward’s thrilling finale to her Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch—and a shocking arrest.
 
At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.
 
Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.
 
As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing is for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

Praise for J. R. Ward’s Bourbon Kings series
 
“A most sinful indulgence . . . The gorgeous Kentucky backdrop will sweep you away.”—Susan Wiggs
 
“Breathless fun!”—Lisa Gardner
“Nancy Thayer is the queen of beach books.”—The Star-Ledger
 
In this captivating novel, New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer tells the wonderfully moving story of three women who forge a unique bond one sun-drenched summer on New England’s Dragonfly Lake. Thirty-year-old Morgan O’Keefe put her science career on hold to raise her young son. Though Morgan loves many things about staying home with her child, she feels restless and ready for a change. Struggling artist Natalie Reynolds, fed up with New York City’s hectic pace, moves to the Berkshires for a year to house-sit her aunt’s fabulous home on Dragonfly Lake, where a handsome neighbor becomes her unexpected rescuer. After her mother breaks her leg, Bella Barnaby quits her job in Austin and returns home to help out her large, boisterous family. While an attractive architect has designs on her, Bella harbors long held secret dreams of her own.
 
Summer on Dragonfly Lake is ripe for romance, temptation, and self-discovery as the paths of these three women unexpectedly intertwine. Summer Breeze illustrates how friends, old and new, can offer comfort, infuriate, or even open one’s eyes to the astonishing possibilities of life.
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
“Nancy Thayer has a deep and masterly understanding of love and friendship, of where the two complement and where they collide.”—Elin Hilderbrand
 
“An entertaining and lively read that is perfect for summer reading indulgence.”—Wichita Falls Times Record News
kud • zu \kud-zü\ n: a ubiquitous vine/weed found in Southern climes that, left uncontrolled, will grow over any fixed object in its path, including trees, power lines, and the entire state of Georgia.

deb•u•tante \de-byu-tänt\ n: a young woman making a debut into society, easily spotted in white dress and pearl necklace. Common names include Muffy, Bootsy, and Bunny.

Eadie Boone is no shrinking violet. An artist and former beauty queen who married into one of the first families of Ithaca, Georgia, she tackles everything with gusto and flair. But tailing her wayward husband proves to be, well, an exasperating chore. If only Trevor would just see the light, dump his twenty-two-year-old hussy, and return home, Eadie’s creative energy could be put to better use. Now all she has to do is convince him.

Nita Broadwell, a good Southern girl from a good Southern family, is jolted out of complacency when she discovers condoms in her husband’s shirt pocket (“Maybe he’d found them on the ground and picked them up”). Between clinging to denial and dodging her overbearing mother-in-law, Nita is also trying to break her addiction to steamy bodice-ripper novels. Only now it appears she’s authoring her own real-life romance tale with a hunky handyman thirteen years her junior.

Lavonne Zibolsky–a transplanted Yankee, bless her heart–is saddled with planning the annual Broadwell & Boone law firm party. That and her lackluster marriage have her seeking solace in the contents of her refrigerator. If she could just put down the Rocky Road ice cream and peach pie, she might get around to finding a caterer, dropping sixty pounds, and figuring out how to fall in love with her husband again. Not necessarily in that order.

Bonded by years of friendship, these three women discover what else they have in common: lying, cheating spouses. So they heed their collective betrayals as a wake-up call and band together to exact sweet revenge. The take-charge trio will see to it that the punishment is just, exquisitely humiliating, and downright hilarious.

Cathy Holton’s debut novel is a delicious yarn of friendship and marriage, secrets and retribution, and how nothing stays hidden for long. Against a Southern backdrop of gentility and decorum, Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes dares to abandon Junior League social graces in ways that would make even Scarlett O’Hara blush.



"It’s great fun reading about these women as they trade their tea for tequila and get smart, get out, and get even, with amusing, and surprising results." --Nancy Thayer, author of The Hot Flash Club

"Sly, smart, and full of great characters -- and then there’s that sweet, sweet revenge. Getting even has never been so creative. Or delicious." --Louise Shaffer, author of The Ladies of Garrison Gardens
Cotillion: A formal gathering of bright young women on the verge of entering adulthood, the society pages, and prospective high-tax-bracket marriages. Think a Civil War reenactment with crisp, clean white dresses.

Catfight: An impromptu gathering of not-so-young women on the verge of losing their cool. Think a cotillion with hair-pulling.

It’s been more than a year since the Kudzu Debutantes exacted sweet, merciless revenge on their cheating husbands, but the repercussions are still palpable throughout Ithaca, Georgia: Nita is anxiously preparing herself for marriage to Jimmy Lee, a man thirteen years her junior; Lavonne, despite having dropped her husband–and eighty pounds–and launched her own business, longs for love; and while Eadie remains married to Trevor, she feels more neglected than ever.

So the occasion of Nita’s second wedding seems like just the ticket to cheer up the disconsolate Debs. But they’ve made a formidable enemy in Virginia Broadwell, first lady of Ithaca and the bride’s ex-mother-in-law. Hell-bent on vengeance and determined to restore old-school social mores, Virginia hatches a plan so devious it makes her pedicured toes curl in anticipation.

Soon enough, the women are knocked for a loop–but you can keep a Kudzu Debutante down for only so long. The one thing stronger than Virginia’s wrath is the bond between the three friends, who soon learn that one of Virginia’s Jimmy Choos contains an irresistible Achilles’ heel. With spirit, wit, and down-home gumption, the take-no-prisoners trio decides it’s time to ditch their cotillion manners as they rally to save Nita’s marriage, Lavone’s business, Eadie’s sanity . . . and the honor of Kudzu Debs the world over.

Packed with authentic Southern flavor and characters as colorful as an azalea in full bloom, The Secret Lives of the Kudzu Debutantes serves up stinging one-liners and earthy wisdom in equal measure.
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