Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Publication date: Feb. 17, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Gifted from Alexa (Thanks!)
Summary: In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived. Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist. But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over. (

The good
Magnolia is the inverse of Romeo + Juliet, with a ton of Southern charm thrown in. It's one of those books I started late at night thinking I'd only read a few chapters. So you can imagine my surprise when I read it in one sitting, in only a couple of hours. It's a straightforward story but I found it completely engaging and it probably helped that I wanted the leading gal and guy to admit their feelings from page one. Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden's families go back to the Civil War. They've been neighbors in Magnolia Branch, Mississippi and close friends for as long as anyone can remember. The Cafferty's and Marsden's always hoped that one day they would "officially" be family which is where Jemma and Ryder come in. Since birth (they were born only months apart), their mothers have been planning their wedding more or less. They've not-so-subtly pushed them towards each other all their lives so of course, the natural thing to do is fight back against their parents' wishes. Even against the attraction they claim is animosity. But you know that line between love and hate is so very thin between these two.

What made me like Jemma and Ryder so much was that they broke the mold. I mean, on the surface they seemed like stereotypes. We're introduced to them at a party, Jemma looks like a Southern belle and Ryder is the star quarterback of their high school. It's easy to think you have them all figured out. Then we learn about Jemma's dreams of becoming a filmmaker, her close relationship with her family and that she's a pro shooter (seriously!). And Ryder is smart, hardworking and you'll be shocked to find out what he wants to go to college for. Aside from the obvious history, they also hint at a reason for the current animosity. When Jemma goes through some personal stuff and a violent storm hits their town while both of their parents are away, Ryder comes through for her in a way she doesn't expect. As they battle out the storm, just the two of them, truths and an obvious attraction gets slowly revealed. It was just really charming and totally swoonworthy (this author knows how to write a kissing scene!).

(Minor) Reservations
There are a couple cheesy moments and a sub-plot that felt unnecessary. Luckily it didn't take up too much of the book but it was still pertinent to how some of the story played out. Still, neither of these things deeply impacted how much I enjoyed reading this overall.

Do I recommend?
I do! If you're in the mood for a quick read with a straightforward story and super enjoyable romance, I'd pick this one up.

1 comment

  1. I love that you read Magnolia already (and I haven't)! It really does sound like the kind of contemporary I would enjoy, particularly because it's an inverse Romeo & Juliet. (I mean, that alone rocks my socks off already!) I love that you devoured it in one sitting, and I certainly hope that it's the same for me.


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