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Sweet Hush Paperback – March 1, 2003

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Sweet Hush + The Biscuit Witch: The Macbrides (The Macbrides: Crossroads Cafe) (Volume 1) + The Pickle Queen: The Macbrides (The Macbrides a Crossroads Cafe Novella) (Volume 2)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980245303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980245301
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,313,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An apple orchard provides the atmospheric background for Smith's (A Place to Call Home) ninth novel, but a farfetched romance reduces it to hijinks. Hush McGillen introduces her family's apple farming history in the mountains of Georgia, where they raise a renowned hybrid apple, the Sweet Hush. Hush has been involved with the orchard since her father died when she was 12. She assumed responsibilities for the business as well as for her little brother, Logan, after her mother died when Hush was 16, the same year she fell pregnant and married race car driver and womanizer Davy Thackery. Davy isn't responsible, but he is a loving father to his son Davis, and proud of Hush as she builds her orchard into a multimillion dollar industry. After Davy's death in a car accident, the story jumps 23 years forward to when Davis brings home Edwina "Eddie" Jacobs, a fellow Harvard student and the daughter of the president of the United States. History has repeated itself; Eddie is pregnant, and the couple has fled to the orchard to elude Eddie's surveillance team of Secret Service agents. Hush battles with the irate First Lady over how to handle the situation. She also meets the president's nephew, Nick Jabokek, a weapons specialist, who alternates narration with Hush and falls for the apple magnate. In contrast to Hush's salty, humorous language ("I would rather eat dirt and shit roots first"), Nick's voice is that of a cliched tough guy: "I slept with the kind of women who moved fast and left damage behind." Together, they try to prevent the unwelcome barrage of negative publicity from revealing buried family secrets. Although the plot is implausible, Hush McGillen's voice is rich enough to keep the reader hooked.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Hush McGillen Thackery is named after her family's resilient and captivating Sweet Hush apples and in many ways takes after them. Driven since the day she was born, Hush overcomes one obstacle after another to make the family orchards prosper. Through lean times and back-breaking seasons, she marries young, gives birth to her son, and becomes a widow, and Sweet Hush Farms, Georgia, flourishes, but Hush has her regrets and painful secrets. When her son appears with his surprising new wife--Eddie Jacobs, the daughter of the president of the U.S.--so does the media, and Hush is forced to face her past and protect her own. Then Nick, Eddie's mysterious and handsome uncle, arrives. Nick is immediately attracted to Hush's boldness and beauty, while Hush is drawn to his commanding presence and underlying sweetness, but they tread carefully before edging into romance. Will their love be enough to overcome the secrets that threaten to destroy them? Full of enchanting folklore and southern charm, Smith's latest is a beautifully written and touching tale. Megan Kalan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The characters are human and believable.
Her characters just always seem so real, they feel like friends by the time you're finished reading the book--and you hate to see the story end.
avid reader in Colorado
The characters were very believable and their stories well developed.
elizabeth hoffman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By FictionAddiction.NET on April 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Hush McGillen Thackery knew at a very early age that she was going to be someone. Suffering through her family's poverty and losing both her parents by age sixteen, Hush decided she would turn the family apple orchards into a profitable business again.
Though she was made fun of for selling apples from a road side stand, it only inspired her. Hush kept going. Surviving.
She was given control of Sweet Hush Hollow and custody of her five-year-old brother, Logan. Her childhood friends, Davy and Smooch, vowed to help her.
When Hush becomes pregnant with Davy's child, she reluctantly agrees to marry him, knowing he will not be faithful. Hush is still determined to make the orchards a success.
She handles the obstacles one by one, choosing to keep her family life discreet. The years fly by and Hush has turned Sweet Hush Hollow into the profitable family business she knew it could be.
Life is good, comfortable...until one day her now 23-year-old son calls her to let her know he is on his way home from college. He arrives with the President of the United State's daughter in tow. They are married and pregnant.
Hush is thrown into the public eye. Her life of secrets is threatened as she discovers a real bee charmer and ultimately her true self.
Deborah Smith did an excellent job bringing these two families through a crisis and to an understanding of each other. There were little stories within the overall story which kept the pages turning through the night.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By joyuz on February 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When I read the jacket for this book I thought, Oh no, how hokey. Here's another book about the President's family, and the books I've read lately with this type of story line have not rung true.
Admittedly the presidental angle of this story is just a little hokey but Deborah Smith makes it work. The author pulls in the reader with great groundwork, inserts a strong heroine in a believable background, and then weaves a compelling story I couldn't get enough with an overall effect of a finely written concerto.
Is it just another southern tale? Yes and no. Yes it's set in the south with many colorful southern folks but the author weaves these characters into a fine tapestry where they add a richness but never overtake the story.
In addition, she adds a great hero who I came to empathize with until eventually I wanted and needed him to find his heart's desire. And he does, very satisfactorily.
Put all the components together and voila--magic. The story made me laugh and cry and root for the characters; I couldn't put the book down. This is a gem in a long run of literary disappointments. Don't pass it up.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Penn on May 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The fifth of her line, Hush McGillen Thackery believes people are born to be whoever they want to be. It is all in how they tell their story. Hush spins a tale of true love, of the perfect Harvard son and of a successful apple farm. But love was rotten to the core with a man who did not live up to revered image, but whose presence made it acceptable for a business woman to succeed. Now secrets from the past threaten to bring down Hush's idealist image and destroy all she holds dear when her son Davis brings the world's scrutiny because he brings home his secret bride--the president's daughter.
The president and his wife are convinced that Hush has ulterior motives and that the marriage between their daughter Hush's son was somehow coerced. They vastly underestimate this Appalachian queen who rules her home, farm and county. When they send the president's cousin Nicholas Jacobek to bring the situation under control, Hush meets the only man in her life who can match her skill at charming bees. But Jacob's dark past conceals a man of kindness and of mercilessness who will do anything to protect family, even kill.
Author Deborah Smith succinctly captures the flavor of the south and of powerful matriarchs in SWEET HUSH. Readers will find it impossible to forget these rich characterizations and mesmerizing prose. Hush is blunt, fierce and determined, deserving of a hard man like Jacob. The president's wife Edwina would be easy to hate except Smith carefully reveals her vulnerabilities, devotion and motivation in a way that not only makes her understandable, but likeable despite her bitchy ways. Readers will delight in the image of Hush and Edwina throwing rotten apples at each other in the White House.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lisa on August 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have heard only but the good reviews on this book, now I know why. I enjoyed Sweet Hush at first I thought it was all about apple growing but it's so much more than that it's about family values, I loved all the characters in this book, This will be a keeper for me, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. This is my first Deborah Smith, I can't wait to read her other books.
Happy Reading Lisa
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am cursed with an editorial/proofreading eye that catches all the typos, missing words, poor editing, etc. Unfortunately, this is one of those on-sale deal books that falls into that poorly-edited category. So in some ways this book was a difficult read; I'd just get into the flow of the story and then trip over another missing word or typo. I imagine this is not an issue of the author or her publisher, but probably rather one of whatever program is used to translate the printed book to ebook. But I don't know what that process is, so I don't know. I do know it's annoying. And unfortunately too common with Kindle books.

So, that said, I did enjoy this story. The characters are quite well developed; the plot makes sense for the most part, although it did seem a little fantastical how amazingly successful the very strong-willed main character is able to make her business. But never mind, the story flows along well, and I really did rush through it because it was good enough I wanted to find out how it developed and how it ended. There were a couple of good twists, too.

All in all, I recommend this book and will be checking out some of the author's others. I only gave three stars because of the typos and bad editing, not because of the story itself.
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More About the Author

Love is about family, romance, and finding a place to call home . . .

Update: September 1, 2014

The Apple Pie Knights will publish by September 15!This 14,000 word novella leads directly into THE KITCHEN CHARMER, which will be a full-length book. I'm finishing it now for an October pub date.

Update: July 1, 2014

The Kitchen Charmer is set for a fall publishing date. Coming in July is a lead-in story, The Apple Pie Knights. Look for more news soon on that! *And* I've added the first part of a short novel called Forever Yesterday, now available in ebook for 1.99. I'm working to build the world of my Crossroads Cove characters primarily, while adding some of my other projects in the mix as often as possible.

Update: January 26, 2014: Thanks for the questions about the release date on THE KITCHEN CHARMER. I'm predicting April 1. The original dream was for Feb. 1 but my day job decided otherwise.

Bell Bridge Books is an exciting and more-than-fulltime career, and I love working with our growing list of authors plus a staff that now includes former Harlequin editor Brenda Chin. We've got an amazing line-up of books for 2014--romances, women's fiction, mysteries, suspense, fantasy, and more. I'd editing new mystery series by Joann Ferguson and Arlene Kay, dark suspense by John Flynn, and the next book in Virginia Brown's bestselling Dixie Diva mystery series. I'm crazy-proud over the successful launch of Nicki Salcedo's debut romantic suspense novel, ALL BEAUTIFUL THINGS, plus looking forward to the launch of Suzan Colon's BEACH GLASS and Bonnie D. Tharp's PATCHWORK FAMILY, which just got a great endorsement from Dorothea Benton Franks.

I do miss being able to write fulltime, which I gave up several years ago, but the kind of novels I love never found an easy fit in the marketplace, and depending on them as a way to make a living was like riding a roller-coaster that regularly crashes with no warning. Yikes.

Anyhoo, more news soon on a possible short story to pair with THE YARN SPINNER. I may be able to get that ready for March. Tentative title: THE YARN LOVER. If it happens, it will feature Gus MacBride and be set in Afghanistan immediately before THE KITCHEN CHARMER. Readers will learn more about the poignant penpal correspondence between Gus and Lucy and see what Gus is dealing with that puts him in danger.

Update: January 17, 2014: publishing today: THE YARN SPINNER, a Crossroads Cafe short story, part of The MacBrides Trilogy, 99 cents ebook. This prequel to the upcoming THE KITCHEN CHARMER tells readers a bit more about Lucy Parmenter, the fragile young woman who has become Capt. Gus MacBride's long-distance text buddy while hiding her history as a rape victim and her on-going struggles as an agoraphobic recluse.

THE YARN SPINNER takes place two years before THE KITCHEN CHARMER. Cathy Deen, the scarred actress from THE CROSSROADS CAFE, meets Lucy on Lucy's first night at Rainbow Goddess Farm, a live-in counseling center for abused woman, high the North Carolina mountains. Cathy is determined to help her, and enlists Delta Whittlespoon's wisdom and biscuit magic. But the emotionally paralyzed and near-suicidal newcomer needs to find a lifeline in a hurry.

Publishing November 15, 2013: THE PICKLE QUEEN, Book 2 of The MacBrides Trilogy, a Crossroads Cafe Novella.


Pickles are mentioned in the Bible. Cleopatra ate them as a beauty regimen. Shakespeare put them in his plays. Mason designed jars for bottling them. So did Ball. Did Mason and Ball fight over the King of the Pickle Jars title? I don't know. I did know this much: I used pickles to keep fear, pride, and my love of Jay Wakefield behind a door I would not risk opening again. Even now.

Wakefields take what they want. MacBrides never surrender. For nearly a hundred years, a battle of wills between these two deeply-rooted Appalachian families has ended in defeat and heartache--most often, for MacBrides. Now the MacBride name is barely more than a legend, and it's up to Gabby MacBride to deal with the pain of her childhood memories and also the challenge of a MacBride legacy she's only beginning to understand.

That will mean coming to terms with her bittersweet love for Jay Wakefield, the lonely rich boy who became her soul mate when they were kids, before the dark demands of his own legacy forced him to betray her.


The modern outlaws, preppers and recluses of the Little Finn Valley called this cozy cavern beneath the mountain the Wolf's Den--a cross between a sports bar, a frat-house TV room, and a co-op, family-friendly pajama-party. There were dozing dogs, sly cats, a few pet raccoons, small monkeys wearing sweaters, and sleeping children among the audience sprawled in chairs around a stage in one corner. Another gaggle gathered near flat screens showing Christmas concerts, ESPN highlights of fall football games, and A Christmas Story.

Ralphie's dreams of gaming Santa for a BB gun was a hit.

There were couches, small tables, recliners and other assorted seating arrangements cobbled from a catch-all collection of furniture. About a hundred people occupied the Den that cold Christmas Eve night, most of them looking mellow--but when the Moon sisters shoved me out of the hallway into their presence the karaoke machine went silent. Eyes turned toward me. I saw a lot of military patches on rugged jackets, a lot of holstered pistols and sheathed hunting knives, and a lot of damp boots drying next to thickly socked feet.

The men were pretty tough-looking, too.

"Greta Garbo MacBride," one of the Moons announced.

A MacBride.

A MacBride had returned to the Little Finn Valley.

Just as before, when I was met on the road down from the ridge, there were looks of awe.

Behind an ornate, marble-topped bar sat some rough biker types in 'do rags and cracked leather lounged on tall stools and a blond woman in a denim jumper over black leggings mixed drinks and guided tall glasses under beer taps. On the wall behind her was a large framed poster with Little Finn River Whiskey in scrolling letters. On one side of it was a sepia photo of a vintage bottle with the caption 1915's Best beneath it; on the other half of the poster was a modern color photo of an updated whiskey bottle with 2012 beneath it.

I called out, "Who wants potato salad and pre-Christmas turkey sandwiches on whole wheat with fresh dill relish and sliced mushrooms drizzled with balsamic vinagrette? Also, pickle-flavored martinis and a blueberry reduction on baked brie with a side of sugar cookies?"

After a startled moment, smiles broke out and hands went up.
One of the 'do rags rose like a bandana-wearing African lion, carrying the fresh double of Little Finn whiskey he'd just been handed by Blond Tats. He offered it to me, and smiled. "The nectar of the mountain gods," he said in a Boston accent straight out of Harvard. "Welcome, a great honor. A MacBride has come home."


Dawn was just three hours away. Christmas Eve was only a few hours old, and the Cavern couldn't shield us from the pit-of-the night mood, emptiness and regrets. The long day had scraped ruts in my throat. My hands hurt, and my attitude was testy; I felt a vise squeezing my temples.

"She's got them eating out of her hand, Jay," Pug told me. "And yeah, that's not a metaphor. She's feeding all the valley's late-nighters like they're baby birds she rescued out of a nest, and they're chirping and asking for more. You know the kind of after-midnight crowd that hangs out at the Den. The ones who've got no family to go home to and too many nightmares to fall asleep. And when the holidays come around their shit is stirred up, times ten. She's their holiday mama bird. It's the MacBride effect. I've read about that in old Caillin's journal but I never really believed in it, until now."

"Food is comfort," I said. "Gabs and her brother and sister understand that. It's that simple."

"Huh," she said, as we walked out of the cold into the warmly lit alcoves of the Den.

Laughter and applause accompanied a group singalong of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" as Pug and I rounded a bend in the wall lined with deer skins, old photos of the Little Finn Distillery and the Woolen Mill.

"Holy singalong, Batman. She's Lawrence Welk without the bubble machine."

Up on the small stage, barefoot, with a mustard-smeared apron over her bedraggled slacks and blouse, her towering height and extraordinary hair filling all the available show space, Gabs waved a glass of whiskey with one hand and led the chorus with a microphone in the other.

Platters of sandwich crumbs and nearly empty stainless serving bowls smeared with the residue of potato salad littered the bar top. Open jars of pickles sat on every mismatched table.

Singing in loud unison, the crowd chorused,
Underneath the mistletoe last night . . .

"They're going to wake up in the daylight and hold their heads and regret this," Pug shouted in my ear.

No, they won't, I thought. They'll be in awe of the way Gabs soothed their hunger.

As the last beats of the song faded from the big amps beside each end of the stage, Gabs took a long swallow of Little Finn whiskey and, as if drugged by the essence of her ancestors, found me instantly. She stiffened, shoulders back, chin up.

She pointed at me in sly challenge. "That man, right there, can sing like a baritone angel." Everyone turned to stare.

She remembers. I nodded, bowing a little.

Her eyes flared. "He has a great singing voice," she continued.

"Sing, Wakefield," someone yelled. People began to clap in rhythm. "Sing, sing, sing."

"You don't have to give in," Pug said. "I'll break out the tequila and distract them."

"I can handle it." I wound my way through the assorted chairs and mismatched tables, the recliners filled with snuggling couples, the dogs curled up by their humans' feet on sheepskin pads, the aura of communal energy, the spirit of the tribe and the cave. Fire crackled on a hearth, and the scent of the stone and the earth reminded us all of this was real, and eternal, and essential.

The welcome and warning in Gabs' deep green MacBride eyes, tearing me apart with the challenge of our history and the promise of what we still might become.

Bell Bridge Books

See the prequel to THE PICKLE QUEEN -- THE BISCUIT WITCH -- here:


The final novella in the trilogy, THE KITCHEN CHARMER, will be published in winter 2014.

Deborah Smith is the NYT and WSJ bestselling author of A PLACE TO CALL HOME, THE CROSSROADS CAFE, and many other novels. She's also a founding partner and VP of BelleBooks and its main division, Bell Bridge Books. Check here for news and updates on the titles she and her partners are publishing.

Deb writes almost exclusively about romance, family drama and "other," and many of her settings are the Appalachian mountain communities of Georgia and North Carolina. Her family heritage is based in those areas and, like many legacies of Appalachian kinfolk, is a mixture of Scots-Irish, Scots, Irish, English, Welsh and Native American, primarily Cherokee and Creek Indian. Her mother's family, the Powers, came from Donegal, Ireland in the late 1700s and by the early 1800s had settled in the wilderness near what would become known as Atlanta. The Powers were a founding family of Cobb County, Georgia, and ran a ferry on the Chattahoochee River. "Powers Ferry" continues to be a well-known place name in that community. Deb's mother, Dora Lee Powers Brown, grew up playing in cornfields on the banks of the river where apartment complexes, office buildings and restaurants now stand. (Precisely: Rays on the River, a popular restaurant in the Atlanta suburbs, is located where one of those cornfields existed.) She recalled playing in the remnants of Civil War trenches as a child, and, in the years before Buford Dam leashed the river, sitting with her brothers and sisters on the one-lane bridge at Powers Ferry where, during floods, the river rose so high that she and her siblings could dip their feet in it.

Asheville, North Carolina, is a favorite setting for Deborah's books. She fell in love with the city during visits to the local rivers (for rafting) in the early 1980s. Many many visits later, she and Hank consider the city and its amazing mountain region their home away from home. The Biltmore Estate inspired the mansion in BLUE WILLOW, the Cherokee and gem mining history inspired SILK AND STONE, and THE CROSSROADS CAFE resulted from a wandering day trip in the highlands above Asheville, where Deb, her mother and their friend Ceil Garrison discovered the best homecooking ever! at a tiny diner at an isolated crossroads near the Tennessee line.

Many of Deb's current and older titles are now also available in unabridged audiobooks here at Amazon and at iTunes also Audible.com. Check out Deb's fantasy romance, ALICE AT HEART, because Deb narrated that audio herself (hey, at least it's unique...)

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