In high school Sugar Beth Carey was queen of all she surveyed, at the top of the pecking order. Now, after three marriages and a number of hard knocks, Sugar Beth is heading home to Parrish, Mississippi. Sugar Beth's third husband died with his finances in a mess and a developmentally disabled daughter, Delilah, needing care. To keep her in the institution, Sugar Beth desperately needs to find her missing legacy: a Lincoln Ashe painting her Aunt Tallulah swore she hid.

But this is one not-so-sweet homecoming. No one is rolling out the welcome wagon. Sugar Beth's former friends have all joined forces with her dire enemy, Winnie Davis. And there is one other person waiting to take a little revenge on Sugar Beth: Colin Byrne, ex-teacher turned famous author. Sugar Beth had gotten Colin fired from his first teaching job, and he is looking for payback.

Talk about chickens coming home to roost! AIN'T SHE SWEET? makes it clear your past can come back to haunt you. Taking characters with flaws both large and small and making them endearing is something Phillips does exceptionally well. AIN'T SHE SWEET? hits the bull's-eye. (Feb., 400 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith