Lizzie Carpenter and a band of three sworn enemies come together to form a bit of a nontraditional yet deeply caring group of friends. Their motto: “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Who better than your enemy to be brutally honest? While at the local diner during the weekly meeting of the Enemies Club, Lizzie Carpenter vents that the long lost biological father of her 14 year old daughter is stopping in for his first visit since he left Lizzie four-months pregnant. As a single mom, she’s provided for and loved her daughter dearly, but has completely neglected her home which is in shambles. Eager to make a good impression on Ethan Pond (aka Ratbastard), she tells her girlfriends that she longs for someone to fix her house before Ethan arrives.
Tay Giovanni, a handyman and a stranger in town from New York City, overhears her wish and visits her home in the middle of the night. Tay has not been able to sleep through the night in the past year. In fact, he hasn’t been able to feel much of anything. A year ago, he was involved in a tragic car accident that killed a young mom and left a teenage girl orphaned. Ever since, he has tried to do numerous good deeds to atone for his actions. Helping Lizzie seems like the perfect thing to do. One day, Lizzie catches Tay fixing her fence and vehemently refuses any further help or, what she calls, charity. She and her daughter have managed just fine on their own, proving they don’t need a man’s help. Despite a few initial missteps, the two work out an arrangement where he repairs her home and she tries to help him overcome his guilt. In the process, they both mend each other’s hearts.
This is a well written novel from first time author Sophie Gunn. What I enjoyed most about the story was Ms. Gunn’s use of realistic dialogue. The interaction and conversations between characters really brought the story to life. Ms. Gunn also used a duffle bag filled with $200,000 cash to link some of the subplots. While I thought the bag of money was a little cliché, it still played well into the overall storyline. Also, the primary and secondary plots were ones that you might imagine yourself or a friend having experienced. In this regard, the characters were all realistic, but not so unique that they were particularly memorable. Never the less, I truly liked Tay who was such a good man desperately seeking redemption and freedom. Though I was touched by his journey, it wasn’t so emotionally raw that the story didn’t remain optimistic and heart warming. And with side storylines about the Enemies Club, Lizzie’s sister (who suffers postpartum depression) and the missing money, I can see how the story would do well as a Lifetime Network or Hallmark channel movie.
How Sweet It Is, is a mild, heartwarming romance that’s sure to please any chick-lit reader and I would certainly choose more of Ms. Gunn’s work in the future.