No one told him he had a son.
Actor Dylan Conner is furious. Not only has he been left out of his child’s life, the baby boy has been given another man’s last name. Determined to be a better father than the sorry guy who’d left him and his mother, Dylan fights to ensure a significant place in his son’s life. Unfortunately, his bad-boy reputation overshadows his good intentions. Only one woman in this small town sees beyond his Hollywood image. And he’s falling for her. Too bad she’s the custody mediator.
After her scandalous divorce in the small town of Oxford, Mississippi, attorney Cassie Brooks has no intentions of practicing law again. The humiliating experience left a bitter taste for love, marriage, and her profession.
Now friends need Cassie’s help in a custody negotiation, and her role demands she remain objective. She never expected to be drawn to Dylan Conner–the actor who everyone warns is bad news. Not only is the mediation at stake, but so is her heart.
SERIES: Southern Hearts #2
GENRE: Contemporary Inspirational Fiction
PUBLISHER: Southern Sun Press
RELEASE DATE: June 15, 2016
“A place in his soul he’d long forgotten broke open, and words seeped between the cracks.”
I loved Leaving Oxford, the first book in Janet Ferguson’s Southern Hearts series, but Going Up South may be my favorite of the two. If I had to pick one. Which I don’t, thankfully 🙂
Dylan Conner is a character who intrigued me in Leaving Oxford, and getting to spend more time with him in Going Up South is all kinds of delightful. He’s flirty and incorrigible but when you get past that shallow celebrity exterior you see a heart that yearns for friends and a soul searching for purpose. Watching him figure out how to be a dad – SWOON. Watching him with Cassie – SWOON. Watching him with Benjamin – SWOON. Just watching him – SWOON.
But, I digress.
Going Up South has lots of cute moments – thanks to a precious baby, a flirty celebrity, and a precocious five-year-old. There’s also plenty of humor, thanks to the same sources … and Big Roy. Cassie’s dad, Big Roy, is a hoot. I can’t wait for you to meet him! As I read his scenes, I kept hearing the actor Barry Corbin (though they don’t have many physical similarities) and I’m thrilled to learn from Janet that Big Roy factors prominently in the upcoming fourth book in this series.
Like Leaving Oxford, this second book in the Southern Hearts series is more than a romance. It’s also a story of a prodigal coming home and a reminder that God loves us, flaws and all. The characters we loved in book one are back, but they aren’t on their best behavior – their emotional reactions to Dylan resembling more of what you would expect from a pack of middle schoolers than from a group of grown men and women (especially the men). But don’t we do the same – hold grudges and build up assumptions? And then we have a difficult time adjusting when God shows grace but we don’t.
Cassie becomes the mediator for more than just the legal process between Dylan and the rest of the group. She stands in the gap for him – advocating for him when the others want to write him off, praying for him when everyone else is praying he would just go away. Dylan and Cassie together – even just as friends – made me smile through nearly the whole book, and Dylan’s friendship with her teenage son Benjamin was especially heartwarming.
Bottom Line: Fan-necessitating romance, a swoonworthy leading man (he doesn’t just play one in the movies), a couple of hilarious supporting characters, and a poignant message of reconciliation and forgiveness are all wrapped up with a bit of southern sass and a lot of Mississippi charm. Going Up South is a lot of fun as well as being sweetly poignant, and Janet Ferguson achieves the perfect blend of each. The characters leap off the page, and you’ll feel as though you’ve known them for years. I am eager to read book 3, Tackling the Fields, and the aforementioned book 4 so I can “stay in touch” with the people of Oxford that I’ve grown to love.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Loved it!
KissingBook Level: 3.5 / May forget to breathe – and you’ll probably need a fan on occasion
Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served her church as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.
Other Books by Janet Ferguson
What about you? Do you see & hear the characters in your head while you read or do you just think I’m crazy? LOL