Friday, March 22, 2013
Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell
Bethany House, 2013
Adult Inspirational Historical Romance
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I read this author's She Walks in Beauty and I really enjoyed it so I was pleased to check out another title from her. My interest was further piqued about discovering that it was about candy makers in early twentieth century St. Louis. I don't think I've read many (any?) books set there so it would mean a new setting for me.
Lucy is the daughter of a brilliant confectioner but poor businessman who lost his candy company and has spent the intervening years trying to top his greatest success. Charlie is the son of the man who took over the candy company; long estranged from his father, he has the opportunity to rebuild those family ties. As Lucy frantically tries to save the family's fortune, she pushes against her mother's desire for a good marriage and wrestles with her own feelings for Charlie who she has dubbed the enemy. Meanwhile he wrestles with feelings of inadequacy as the dual narration takes us deep into both of their heads.
Favorite moment was definitely when sweet, nice Winnie Compton had a conversation about God with Charlie that poked at my thoughts about the God who Is versus the God I want. Charlie thinks that there should be more to the process of God forgiving him but Winnie teaches him that that's not how God works. Winnie later has a similar conversation with Lucy. I heard a sermon about that and then this book just magnified those thoughts. Regardless this book didn't feel very heavily Christian to me. Neither main character particularly likes attending church and although there is a pivotal scene of understanding in a church, I think non-Christian readers who like historical fiction would be fine with this book.
Second favorite moment would have to be reading about the actual history of candymakers, which was an intensely competitive field (see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for a taste). The author's note at the end gives a little bit of insight in to this exciting time period.
Do you see what I don't mention? I didn't say anything about liking the main characters or their romance. That's because I didn't really like them. Lucy is incredibly obsessed with candy making and very naive about a couple of plot twists even as I yelled at her about what was occurring. Charlie wavers a lot on principles and what really matters (especially the lip service he pays to his mother and all her hard work while eagerly absorbing himself in his father's shady business practices). I found the writing and plot compelling enough but I really didn't like the characters and that dragged down the whole book.