Thursday, August 09, 2007

Diann Hunt's Be Sweet ~ Reviewed

Be Sweet
By Diann Hunt
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10: 1-59554-194-2

Viney Haverford always told her daughters to "be sweet." But the only thing sweet about Charlene Haverford these days is her sweet tooth. Little sister Janni is the nice one. The one with the intact marriage, the great kids, the stable life on the family homestead in Tappery, Michigan. Charlene's the sister who left town brokenhearted and humiliated but built a sweet life for herself half a continent away: High-octane job. Red BMW. Seaside cottage. And an uncomplicated relationship with a great-looking man.

Charlene might not be the sweet sister, but she still craves sweets, like the incomparable maple syrup from her family's own maples. Which is why she's finally coming home. And to make sure her tightfisted sister doesn't botch plans for their parents' 50th anniversary party. And to show the local gossips that she's not the loser they think she is.

But Charlene's tie in Tappery proves stickier than anticipated. Sweet Janni has turned moody, Mom's acting paranoid, Dad may be sneaking around with a local widow, the police seem to be stalking them all, and the little twinge in Charlene's mouth has morphed into a full-blown, sugar-0induced toothache. A hunky local dentist offers a delicious diversion. But just when things get cozy, a series of revelations open both sisters' hearts to sweet possibilities they never imagined.

Diann Hunt proves life begins at forty-five, and you don't begin to hit your stride till fifty. Her characters are zany, witty, eclectic, deep, gritty ... in other words: real, warts and all. But the book isn't a piece of fluff. There's a message of healing in its pages, a throwing off of old baggage, and trust. All wrapped up in one delicious, hilarious read.

Heavily character driven, the story unfolds at an unhurried pace, allowing the reader to get inside Charlene's head and know her. By the time you've finished half a chocolate chip cookie and a cup of coffee, you're sitting beside Char at the kitchen table, walking with her through the maples, tapping trees and getting sticky hands.

What I found so interesting is how Hunt wrote Be Sweet in first person from Charlene's point of view, yet you know each character intimately. Though each is seen from Char's perspective, each is fully developed and has their own unique voice.

The antics will keep you chuckling all the way through, from Viney's paranoia to Janni's strange behavior. Toss in a Harley, that hunky dentist, a couple of hormonal college kids, and you've got one of the best reads of the year. Grab something maple, preferably covered in chocolate, and enjoy. This reviewer gives Be Sweet her highest recommendation. It's a 5 star book.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

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