Review: The Sweetest Thing by Cathy Woodman + Giveaway

The Sweetest Thing by Cathy WoodmanFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: paperback, ebook, large print, audiobook
Genre: contemporary romance, women’s fiction
Series: Talyton St. George #3
Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Cornerstone (Random House UK)
Date Released: April 28, 2011
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, iBookstore

If only everything in life was as simple as baking a cake…Jennie Copeland thought she knew the recipe for a happy life: marriage to her university sweetheart, a nice house in the suburbs and three beautiful children. But when her husband leaves her, she is forced to find a different recipe. And she thinks she’s found just what she needs: a ramshackle house on the outskirts of the beautiful Talyton St George, a new cake-baking business, a dog, a horse, chickens…But life in the country is not quite as idyllic as she’d hoped, and Jennie can’t help wondering whether neighbouring farmer Guy Barnes was right when he told her she wouldn’t last the year. Or perhaps the problem is that she’s missing one vital ingredient to make her new life a success. Could Guy be the person to provide it?

My Review:

There’s just something about this book that draws you right in. Or at least it did me. I was hooked on Jennie’s story from the very first page.

This isn’t a story of high drama or rich billionaires, it’s a quiet story about people taking the courage to pick up their dreams and start over. Everyone in this tale is starting over and finding a new path in life; all the kids and all the adults.

That turns out to include Jennie Copeland’s ex-husband David, who spends most of this story in the throes of what looks a selfish midlife crisis.

You could say it’s Jennie’s and David’s divorce that starts this story. But really, it’s Jennie’s dream of being independent, combined with rose-tinted memories of childhood holidays in Devon that lead to her purchase of Uphill House.

“Uphill” is the right name for the place, because the road to Jennie’s happiness is definitely going to be an uphill climb.

The house is definitely a “fixer-upper”. Jennie needs to economize, because her settlement will only go but so far. Living in the country will be much cheaper than living in London, or so she hopes.

But it will also be away from the support network that she has come to rely on, and far from the routine that her three children are used to. Adam, Sophie and Georgia feel uprooted and lost. It may be Jennie’s dream to start a cake baking business in the country, but it isn’t theirs.

So Jennie comes to Talyton St. George to start over. It takes a lot of guts and a huge amount of determination. Jennie seems to have a pair of rose-colored glasses firmly fixed in place; no one seems to think she has a real chance, not her new neighbors in the country, not her old friends in the city, not her kids, and certainly not her ex. But then, that was part of the point of the thing at the beginning.

But never the entire point. This is really about Jennie’s ability to persevere no matter how many roadblocks she faces, or how many times she discovers that her rosy vision doesn’t match the reality.

Rooting for Jennie to not just succeed, but to also get her happy ending, makes Jennie’s story a very sweet read.

Escape Rating B+: The Talyton St. George series is mostly about the veterinarians in the small Devon community, but in The Sweetest Thing, the vets only showed up to treat the various animals that Jennie and her children acquired along the way to adapting to their new life.

Which made this book a perfect way to get into the series without having read any of the other books, no prior knowledge was required.

In The Sweetest Thing, we have the story of a 40-ish newly divorced woman starting over with three kids; a resentful teenaged boy, and two girls, one a pre-teen and the other in elementary school. Adam, Georgia and Sophie.

The breakup is still painful for everyone, and they are all still acting out to some extent, including Jennie. Moving from London to the Devon countryside if you are London born-and-bred definitely counts as acting-out.

The divorce was over the husband’s repeated infidelity, except this time he wants to marry his inamorata. Jennie was a stay-at-home mother, so starting a new life in London would have been expensive. She has the vision and the talent to start a baking business on a shoestring, but practicality, not so much.

We see her grow from all of her trial and error, in every possible direction. But we also see that as she becomes more absorbed in making a go of her new business, there is less time for her to listen to her kids’ need to make the adjustment. The girls have an easier time of it, not just because they are younger, but because they find activities in the country that work for them.

Adam is cut off from his old friends and resentful. At sixteen, he’s also just being a teenager, but he is definitely lost in this new place.

Adam withers while Jennie blossoms with all her new challenges. Even while she finds herself frustrated and scared and exhausted.

Watching the family navigate their surprising journey is fun and absorbing. There is also a love story, but Jennie finding love is the icing on the cake for her, rather than the whole cake. Love is wonderful, but not the solution to her problems or a rescue from her difficulties.

It’s also sweet that the new love of Jennie’s life needs her to sweep the cobwebs out of his life every bit as much as she needs his help with some of the unexpected challenges in hers.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.


Country Loving by Cathy WoodmanCathy is giving away the winner’s choice of a copy of either The Sweetest Thing or Country Loving by Cathy (check out other stops on the tour for reviews of Country Loving). To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:
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