Rating: 4.5 Stars
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Review: I always look forward to new releases from Siri Mitchell, and enjoy revisiting her past novels. "Unrivaled" captured my attention on a few levels: the author; the cover, which reminds me of "Downton Abbey"; and the unique focus of the plot. Mitchell brings intriguing facets of history to life in her historical fiction novels. In "Unrivaled," she focuses on St. Louis, Missouri and the candy industry. The historical detail is rich and layered, offering insights into St. Louis society in the early 1900s and the candy-making process. I learned interesting facts about each, while being entertained by the two main characters, Lucy and Charlie.
"Unrivaled" is a more light-hearted read than Mitchell's latest novels, with humor and fun creating a delightful recipe. Lucy and Charlie are both strong-willed but likeable characters, who fight each other in the candy business while fighting a mutual personal attraction. Their schemes to outdo the other's candy company often create humorous situations. At the same time, Lucy's actions in particular can be exasperating. She becomes so focused on achieving her goals, that she is blinded to the impacts her actions have on others and the fact that her behavior is something that she would usually condemn as unjust. Lucy's suffers from the classic flaws of pride and prejudice. She ultimately exhibits growth, but her transition is gradual and most evident at the very end of the novel. As I entered the second half of the novel, I found myself hoping that Lucy's inner growth would become more prevalent.
Lucy led a sheltered childhood, while Charlie lived in near poverty with a single mother. By telling the story through the perspectives of both Lucy and Charlie, Mitchell allows readers insight into both characters emotions and motives. Charlie is more open-minded and empathetic than Lucy, but he has his own inner struggles with forgiveness and pride. Despite a slightly tainted past, it is clear Charlie desires love, genuineness and fairness. Behind the veil of society functions, candy making, and business battles, the messages of love, truth, and forgiveness make themselves evident to Lucy, Charlie, and readers.
"Unrivaled" is another enjoyable treat from Siri Mitchell. The plot is inventive and flavorful with Mitchell's signature elements of history, detail, and well-developed characters. "Unrivaled" offers a harmony of lightness and depth, making it a wholly enjoyable read.
I received a complimentary e-copy of this novel from NetGalley, courtesy of Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Summary from Bethany House: Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager--a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.