My rating: 4 of 5 stars
How far would you go to rescue a friend from heartache? It’s an interesting question, and for me it revealed the true heart of Madeline Brown. Oh, you don’t know her? Well, you simply have to read Sweet On You, the new release by Chautona Havig.
I’ll begin talking about the book by saying I like Madeline Brown. That’s the name of the caring, vivacious, outspoken 19-year-old female living in the traditions and mores of the turn of the 20th century.
It is the year 1901, a time when horse and carriages are still the primary mode of transportation. Electricity in the home is still a newfangled notion, while a new Brownie camera can be purchased for a dollar. The daughter of the newly elected mayor, Madeline is dutiful and compliant, while resistant to her well-meaning, ambitious aunt Louisa’s attempts to find her an eligible man to marry.
Who knew a typical social event held in a stifling, overheated parlor among the usual and new members of Rockland’s young socialites could change a life? It is the inconsistent behavior of one new face in the social circle that “proved a catalyst that spun Madeline’s life into an entirely new direction.” Most women are protective of friends when an unknown man comes along. Madeline is no exception as she watched Mr. Vernon Smythe take liberty to caress the face of her friend and hostess, Edith Merton, publicly.
First a lie, then additional anomalies in his behavior prove to be too much for her peace of mind. Madeline is observant, intrepid and resourceful; enamored with the skillful deductions of Sherlock Holmes. Smythe is showing marked attention to one of her dear friends, but something is not adding up. Her quest is not to find him guilty, but to satisfy her own mind that there are innocent explanations for his behavior.
Why Meddlin’ Madeline? At 19, Madeline does not suffer the foolishness of potential suitors. Think of her as the forerunner to Nancy Drew, Lois Lane and even Alexa Hartfield, one of Ms. Havig’s more contemporary Rockland citizens. Madeline has an insatiable desire to know and be understood.
My favorite kind of read is one that pricks my heart or raises a question even while I’m being entertained. Yay, Ms. Havig succeeded in that without even knowing me. I like this book and the imperfect people. I believe that the focus of this story is friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Madeline does not want Edith to be hurt or disappointed in love. She is willing to put her own reputation on the line in order to find out the truth. Is she meddling in the affairs of others? Yes.
As her adventures in sleuthing move her outside of her comfort zone, she becomes aware of the inequity of life on the seedy side of town. She speaks out against mistreatment of children, the proper Christian attitude and unseemly topics women should avoid; but refuses to be categorized as a suffragette or mere eligible maiden waiting for a husband. Her reputation suffers a bit. Her father is her champion, as she is his. Although a shady man is following her, there is no murder, mayhem, or violence. This is just a solid story about a young woman attempting to find answers for the love of her friends.
Madeline’s loyal devotion to her friends is returned. These characters embody love at all times, even in adversity as King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 17:17. While not present in the daily events, her dearest friend Amy is represented by her brother Russell Barnes, overseeing Madeline’s comfort at the behest of his traveling sibling. Is he the future romantic interest for Madeline? I certainly hope so.
But more so, I look forward to this young woman’s growth in character and in Christ. I believe that as she continues on, she will discover her own strengths, and maybe even love. I’m blessed to say that I received a complimentary advance reader team copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
I hope you read the book. It’s well worth the time. Remember the question at the top of this review…how far would you go to rescue a friend from heartache? You know me, I’m not telling you that you have to intervene in the life of a friend. I’m just asking if you would.
Stay tuned, I would like to explore that friend thing a little closer.