Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Two-time ex-con Camden Sanders has decided that Hog Mountain—an isolated community on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia—is the perfect place to continue running small scams without the threat of more prison time. But there are a few problems with this plan. One is the neighborly citizens of Hog Mountain thwarting his dirty dealings at every turn with their kindness. Another is Jackson Rhodes, a closeted Hog Mountain police officer who can see right through Cam’s good ol’ boy act and plans to catch him red-handed despite the attraction they both can feel. But the biggest problem of all is that Cam’s past is threatening to catch up with him, and it could mean trouble for more than just himself.
Review: Cam Sanders may have moved to start a new life away from the bad influence of his former associates, but old habits die hard. We are first introduced to Cam conning an unsuspecting resident of the community of Hog Mountain, where Cam has settled after his second stint in jail. The auto repair shop, and house behind it, he purchased make the small time cons easy, but police officer Jackson Rhodes has his suspicions about the small community’s latest resident. Jackson has lived in Hog Mountain his whole life. He is loved by his parents, his church and his community. His upbringing and his life is the opposite to Cam’s in pretty much every way. Even with all his advantages, Jackson is still firmly in the closet, believing things would go bad for him if people in the small town knew his secret.
Within the first couple of chapters, this story had me well and truly hooked. I found Cam complex and intriguing. Jackson’s character may have been a bit more straight-forward, but he was equally well-written and believable. He was the good guy, but not cloyingly so. The writing is excellent. The setting of the story was always there in the background and subtly filling in the details, making me feel almost as though I had been transported there. The technique used to convey the accent was perfect. Enough to convey the wonderful, lazy-summer-day drawl of the south without becoming dominant. I totally read dialogue in my best southern belle accent in my head. Which is pretty impressive considering I’m an Aussie girl who struggles to make anything sound other than an Australian accent!
Cam was such a contradiction. One moment willing to take advantage of someone’s trust, but then turning around to take in a stray cat and helping a family of kids with no money and drunk for a father. I liked Cam’s willingness to own his choices and not try and lay blame on others. Underneath everything, he was a good man who had made some bad choices, but he acknowledged that they were his choices. I loved that townspeople showed an unexpected kindness to Cam, instead of just the usual small town closed-mindedness. I adored Dotty, and Ida And Charles. They saw Cam for who he could be instead of who he had been.
The romance between Cam and Jackson was a delightful slow burn. The journey from distrust to friendship to love was well paced and completely believable. They may have been from very different backgrounds and had personalities that were seemingly at odds with each other in a lot of ways, but they actually complimented each other wonderfully and each found the courage to change themselves for the better because of the other. I enjoyed their opposites attract relationship and I loved their banter. The light touches of humour were adeptly used to give some levity against the darker themes.
That whole cat and mouse game with one of Cam’s past group of thieves towards the end had me on the edge of my seat as to what was going to happen. I admit that the scene where all the action culminates tipped towards the edge of unbelievability a little, but that still didn’t detract from the suspense that was created. I was glad that there were repercussions to the events that happened. It was so much more realistic than everything being hunkey dorey because, you know, love. Cam had to deal with the consequences of his past choices effecting him and those around him in his new life.
I really enjoyed Snakes Among Sweet Flowers and I absolutely loved both MCs. Cam’s journey from conman to local mechanic in a small town was well-done and very believable. The character development, overall, was excellent. Dotty, Ida, Charles and the Watson kids may have only been secondary characters, but they still felt fully-fleshed out despite their relatively brief page time. This book is very impressive for a debut novel. I look forward to more books to come from this author.