by Kristi Cook

Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Romance
Published: August 5th, 2014
by Simon and Schuster




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 overwhelming 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, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! 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.



Sometimes you just need to escape reality and engross yourself in something completely light and fluffy, and Magnolia fits that bill perfectly. It is satisfying and adorable, and everything – from the romance to the characters to the setting – is virtually perfect.

Ever since the Civil War, the Cafferty and Marsden families have been as tight as tight can be. So when a baby girl and a baby boy are born at almost the exact same time, the families see their chance to finally unite themselves.

The only problem? Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden, 17, hate each other to the core. But when a storm threatens to ravage their small Southern town, Jemma and Ryder realize that they may need each other more than they hoped.

The story is told through the perspective of Jemma, and she is an amazing protagonist. She is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination – she’s extremely stubborn – but it is those flaws that make her come off the page with such a realism to her. You understand her; her thoughts, her desires, her dreams; and that is a huge aspect of what makes the story so successful.

Jemma’s relationship with Ryder is what steals the book. It is one of the most authentic and well-written romances I can remember reading in a long time – maybe even since Flipped or These Broken Stars (and, if you know me, you know what huge praise that is). The slow burn development of their romance is written absolutely perfectly. You can feel the hatred they have for each other in the beginning slowly morph into respect and soon into something more than that.

All in all, I couldn’t recommend this enough. It has a wonderful Southern atmosphere and an unforgettable romance. Anyone who is a fan of YA contemporary or romance won’t regret giving this a try.

“We’ve hated each other since forever.”
“Love, hate,” she says with a smile. “Such a fine line between the two, isn’t there?”

Such a fine line, such a fine line indeed.


64 thoughts on “Magnolia

  1. I really want to read Flipped! Your love for it has me really excited! 🙂 Ikr? I don’t usually like fluffy books, but there are times when you certainly need them. Great review, Zoe!

  2. Authentic southern atmosphere? YES. And definitely, you just need a book like this once in a while,or in my case, I usually end up binge reading them all in one go, I regret nothing. I’ve seen a few mixed reviews for this one, which is why I haven’t read it yet, but honestly, I love slow burn romance, and the whole hate to love aaaaaaaaaaaand, i love characters who aren’t perfect, I mean, who is? It’s realistic. You’ve made up my mind, next time I need a light fun break, this will be it.

    1. *whispers* I’m not a Southern gal so I’m not sure it was completely authentic, but it certainly felt so. I hope if you decide to pick this up that you end up liking it as much as I did! 🙂

  3. I’m such an idiot. I clicked on thinking, I wonder if Zoe enjoyed the bird people with plumage for hair. Err, Magonia. This is why I shouldn’t be leaving blog comments at 5:00am.

    I’m a massive fan of fluffy contemporaries, especially those slow burning enemies to friends type of intensity. Usually the banter is always guaranteed to win me over, and these two seem so incredibly genuine too. Definitely grabbing a copy of this one Zoe, hopefully it’ll pick me up out of my book funk. Incredible review! <3 <3

    1. LOL, you crack me up Kelly!
      And I’m not usually a huge fan of fluffy contemporary, but this one managed to win me over somehow; and I hope it does the same to you if you decide to try it. 🙂

  4. I am picky with my fluff. VERY picky. But with such high praise from you, I think I will probably add this to my very small fluffy-TBR. It sounds SO sweet- and I love the hate-turned-love thing! And the Southern setting sounds so charming! Fabulous review, off to make sure this is on my Goodreads list 🙂

    1. I’m not usually a huge fan of fluffy contemporary either Shannon, but this one managed to win me over somehow; and I hope it does the same to you if you decide to try it. 🙂 Thanks Shannon!

  5. For some reason I thought this was a review for that Magonia book with the bird people at first–clearly schoolwork wore me out. I probably won’t be reading this anytime soon, seeing as contemporary romance is pretty much the bane of my existence, right up there with trying to center images on Blogger, but hate-to-love relationships are the best. (Because Percabeth. And just about everyone in Harry Potter.) Great review!

      1. *calms down* I’m okay now. Anyway… even if fluffy contemp isn’t your cup of tea, definitely still keep an eye out for this one Ellie.

  6. This sounds so sweet! I remember seeing another positive review for this and thinking I might enjoy it – I’m glad your review reminded me of it again! I love that the romance starts with them hating each other – that’s always fun. 😀

    1. So glad to hear that you’re intrigued Charlene! 🙂 I hope if you decide to pick this up that you end up liking it as much as I did! 🙂

  7. As good as Flipped?!! *cue gasp* :O DO I REALLY NEED TO BE CONVINCED ANY FURTHER!?? Basically not. 😉 It sounds like a bit of a reverse Romeo/Juliette, there? With the families actually liking each other and the kids not?! Either way I definitely want to try it, although I originally thought this book was the same as Magonia because I’m a pineapple brain and illiterate apparently. XD

  8. OH MY GOSH I MUST READ IT NOW <3 I have read other reviews about this book, but yours was so convincing and now I feel the sudden urge to read the book as well 😛 Jemma sounds like a really good protagonist, and I'm really glad you liked her. I'm going to buy this book if I see it in the store soon.

    Lovely review, Zoe! As always ^_^

  9. Wow! It tells a bloody lot when you talk about how effective the romance in this book was. You’re one of those people whose insights I absolutely and completely trust and if you say that this would be a great read, then I know it will be a great read. I think Aimee herself read this sometime ago and loved it to pieces!

    Faye at The Social Potato

    1. You have no idea how much that means to me Faye! Thank you so much for your kind words. ♥ Definitely give this one a try – it’s incredible!

  10. Everyone seems to like this one, I think I DNF this book a long time ago. I borrowed it from the library again to see if I like it again, but here’s to hoping. It sounds really cute though, awesome review Zoe!

    1. Aww…sorry you didn’t especially like it the first time around Benish. 🙁 Glad you’re willing to give it a second try though!

  11. THIS SOUNDS SO CUTE OMG. Honestly it reminds me of Cora Cormack and Jesse’s Girl. Slow burn romances stemming from love/hate relationships? SO CUTE. I can’t emphasize how absolutely CUTE this is. OKAY I SHALL SHUSH NOW and go away after MIGHTY MIGHTY praise. Your review <3 Missed your blog, Zo 🙂

  12. This book sounds so fun! I really like the family tension vibe I’m getting, and I’d love to read more YA with Southern charm. (Jen Calonita’s Belles left me wanting more.) I imagine the characters’ situation must be ridiculously unpleasant, which of course would make it enjoyable to read about. 🙂

    1. So glad it sounds like something you’d like Emily! I haven’t read Belles yet, but I’ll have to pick that up since you liked it so much! 🙂

  13. What a good review, Zoe! I love both a Southern setting and a contemporary romance, so this sounds right up my alley. Off to find it in my local library system! 🙂

  14. THIS REVIEW IS WONDERFUL. why? because it just is. 😛 and also because it has made me want to read this book so badly even though barely ever read contemporary romance so i think you should pat yourself on the back for that Zoe 😉
    P.S *saves gif to my gif folder*

  15. Oh! I’ve read this one! This year actually. I wouldn’t exactly give it a 5 stars but it was enjoyable and it served it’s purpose. I guess I didn’t like it as much because the romance wasn’t enough.I wasn’t fangirling or praying for them to end up together and we’re taking about contemporary romance so…

    1. I completely agree with you 100% Cátia. Sure, it wasn’t quite at the 5 star mark, but it was still absolutely wonderful. I feel if there was just a bit more romance I would have loved it even more too. 🙂

  16. Hmm, I don’t usually go for southern romances, contemporary or historical, but you’ve actually made this book sound pretty interesting. So props to you. Not many romance reviewers can do that. I may have to check it out at some point. 😛

    1. I’m not usually one for Southern romances either Liz, which made me really surprised by how much I loved this. Thank you for your kind words – I hope if you do end up giving it a try you like it as much as I did!

  17. THIS SOUNDS SO CUTE AND ADORABLE THO. I must devour this, because my last read was Since You’ve Been Gone and it wa as good and sad and fluffy as it was made out to be and now I want to read this. BECAUSE. Contemporaries 4 lyfe. Always.

    Beautiful review, Zoe. And the quotes were so. frickin. cute. <3

    1. If you’re a fan of cute & fluffy reads, this is right up your alley Nirvana. And I agree – contemporary for life, right? ♥ Thank you!

  18. This sounds GORGEOUS. I have to say that I have a weakness for the “hate to love” trope, because I think it can be really realistic, and full of ~feels~. And it sounds like this book captures that feeling really well, and really authentically *cheers*

    To be honest, if I had seen this book around I might have given it a pass, but now I really want to read it XD It sounds so lovely. Historical AND fluffy romance? I am so there.

    Thank you for this lovely review, dear! <3

  19. I just ordered this book all thanks to you! I’ve seen it drifting around but I’ve never bothered to pick it up until now. The romance sounds pretty cool – fluffy and maybe a bit angsty? Maybe? Because of the love-hate relationship? In any case, I’m definitely looking forward to it!

    Awesome review Zoe!

    1. It’s more fluff then angst, but there definitely is some there. 😉 Definitely give this one a try Claudia – so glad to hear you ordered it! Thank you. 🙂

  20. I absolutely ADORED Magnolia! The romance was one of the cutest, yet most emotional things ever and I also adored the friendships and family relationships. The characters were really realistic as well. I think the only problem I had was that I felt like the Patrick storyline was unnecessary.
    Great review! 🙂
    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    1. It was adorable, right?!? And I agree, it was a bit unnecessary but I guess I didn’t mind it too much. 😉 Glad you liked this too! 🙂

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