January 13, 2014

The Cutthroat World of Candy

Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell

Release Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 400 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley; e-ARC
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Lucy Kendall always assumed she'd help her father in his candy-making business, creating recipes and aiding him in their shared passion. But after a year traveling in Europe, Lucy returns to 1910 St. Louis to find her father unwell and her mother planning to sell the struggling candy company. Determined to help, Lucy vows to create a candy that will reverse their fortunes.

St. Louis newcomer Charlie Clarke is determined to help his father dominate the nation's candy industry. Compromise is not an option when the prize is a father's approval, and falling in love with a business rival is a recipe for disaster when only one company can win. Will these two star-crossed lovers let a competition that turns less than friendly sour their dreams?

Thoughts on Unrivaled
I really like reading Christian historical fiction, and I've enjoyed the five other books that I've read by Siri Mitchell so far. She typically writes really well-researched, engaging stories. Unfortunately, something was just off in this book and didn't seem to match what I've come to expect from her.

This book alternates between Lucy Kendall and Charlie Clarke's point of view. I had no trouble distinguishing between the two voices, so that was a positive. They work for rival candy companies (owned by each of their fathers), and they'd like nothing more than to put each other out of business.

Charlie's father originally worked for Lucy's dad, but Mr. Clarke eventually bought Mr. Kendall out of the business. The circumstances of the sale were a bit questionable, and Lucy's resented the elder Mr. Clarke ever since. Mr. Kendall went on to create a new candy company, but it's close to going out of business after he suffers from a heart attack while Lucy is out touring Europe. Lucy will do whatever it takes to save her dad's company, and Charlie's determined to prove his worth to his long-lost father by doing the same for him.

Here are three short reasons this book just didn't work for me:

1. The Characters.
I don't mind unlikeable characters when they've got depth and seem realistic. Unfortunately, that wasn't how I felt about Lucy. She was selfish, thoughtless, immature and mean. I liked that she wanted to go into business, not just get married, but I didn't care at all about her future. I became less invested in her character as the book went on. Charlie wasn't bad, but he still seemed flat and one-dimensional. I had a hard time rooting for people who just go around hurting the people in their lives - and each other - for the sake of competition and candy.

2. The Romance.
This ties into my problems with the characters, but I really didn't care for the romance in this book. Unfortunately, it suffers from a major case of instalove. The characters have barely spoken before they're only able to think of each other... when they're not trying to ruin each other's business, that is. There is almost no relationship development between the two, so it made the predictable ending less than satisfying. I don't mind a predictable ending (since this type of book is typically a guaranteed happily ever after), but it does bother me when there's nothing about the romance that makes me root for the couple to finally overcome their issues.

3. The Action.
I felt like this book took me forever to read, and I hate when that happens. There isn't really a lot happening with the plot, and what does happen feels very repetitive. Lucy and/or Charlie tries some scheme to get their company ahead, something happens as a result, and then they do it all over again. The repetitiveness of the plot created a larger pacing issue, which I think is part of the reason why it seems like this book moves so slowly. To be honest, I likely wouldn't have finished this book if I'd gotten it from the library because I wasn't invested in the plot at all.

While I didn't enjoy Unrivaled, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the other Siri Mitchell books I've read. This one was a miss for me, but I have enjoyed Mitchell's other books.

So Quotable
"Your past is not as important as your future. Did you know that? Can't change anything about what you've been, but you can change who you'll become."
*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my review.

4 comments:

  1. I've got to agree with you on this one. It was an okay one-time read, but it just doesn't compare to her other novels. Mitchell is one of my favorite authors in CBA, so I'll always read what she writes though!

    Beth

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  2. Bummer that you didn't dig it. I love the quote btw.

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  3. It feels like this had the potential to be wonderful, honestly. (Especially because it involved rival candy companies! A book with sweets? YES PLEASE!) I'm sad to hear that you wound up not enjoying it, and just plain feeling disinterested.

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  4. This is a bummer. It has a nice cover. I haven't read Siri Mitchell yet but I do have her on my Kindle and since I've started reading Christian fiction/Christian historical fiction more now than I used to, I assume I'll get to her work eventually. I hate that this one didn't work for you.

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