Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sweet By and By by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck

Rating: 4.5 stars

As a fan of country star, Sara Evan's music and Rachel Hauck's novels, I was excited to discover that both women have joined forces and released an inspirational novel.  The Sweet By and By is a collaborative effort that successfully blends the emotional story lyrics present in Sara Evan's songs with the character development and humor that defines Hauck's novels.

In The Sweet By and By, Jade Fitzgerald is a young woman who is the owner of a vintage, antique shop and just weeks away from marrying Max Benson, a successful lawyer from an upper-class family.  With pasts that they both wish to forget, they agree to live in the present while embracing the future.  After Jade reluctantly sends a wedding invitation to her estranged mother, Beryl, memories from the family's past set ripples of pain and regret into motion.  These ripples soon turn into a wave of emotion that they must confront.  While the women struggle to reconcile their past, Max also faces the return of his former fiance and a secret that he wishes to keep from Jade.  Will Jade's and Max's love for one another surmount the obstacles that they face?

The Sweet By and By skillfully displays the complexities of family relationships and the power of forgiveness as individuals struggle to come to terms with their past actions and decisions.  While reading this novel, I was drawn to the unfolding story of Jade's and Beryl's tumultuous relationship.  Like this story, real-life is complex with no "perfect" endings.  Our lives are always a work in progress. 

I look forward to Sara Evan's and Rachel Hauck's upcoming novels in the Songbird series.  Hopefully,  readers will once again re-visit the lives of some of the characters in The Sweet By and By, especially Jade's younger sister, Willow.

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