“Tomorrow will take care of itself, Baby Girl.”Lee James
Was I surprised? Yes, I was.
Her mother was murdered. Her father vowed revenge. She grew up in the shadow of his anger, afraid. Always afraid. Then her rescuer came along and pulled her out of the mud of the train yard and set her under the hot, dazzling lights of a stage. But would her savior be the reason for her ultimate downfall?
Cherry Winslow escapes an abusive father by marrying an indifferent husband, Gideon. Still, Cherry is determined to be the best wife she can in the leaky one-room shack they called home. Her claim to that shack is terminated when Gideon initiates a chain of events that culminates in Cherry being tossed out into the wet.
Cherry’s life whirls out of focus as she is forced to do what she’s never had to do before-make real decisions all by herself. Her days are filled with excitement when she starts working in an underground speakeasy and she stumbles into clumsy love with the owner, Regan Derry.
Regan soon proves he is no savior and, for the first time, Cherry has the chance to save herself. But can she build her future before she is destroyed by her past?
This book honestly… was a big surprise–a pleasantly big surprise. Going in, I wasn’t expecting very much, and perhaps this was partially due to the fact that I may have committed the “don’t judge a book by its cover” crime. (Come on y’all, you know you do it too.) However, once I began reading the novel, my heart fluttered with excitement. So as to better explain why, let me break down my reasoning into my usual three categories– characters, plot, and engagement.
It is once in a blue moon that I ever come across a book where I actually like the protagonist, and it looks like tonight is forecast to be a blue moon. Not only did I like Cherry, the main protagonist in Sweet Honesty, but she was one of my most favorite characters in the novel. Her emotions felt real and were relatable on every level. One thing I especially loved about this character, however, was her arc and development. Many times, while characters in a novel may live through life-altering events and change on a surface level, their being, I guess you could call it, remains stagnant. This was not the case with Cherry. From the very first page to the last, Cherry learned something new either about herself or the world, and she took that information and used it to grow as a person. It’s an amazing feeling being able to follow along on her journey and feel as if you are growing alongside her. Another very important point on characters that I want to note is that even the most irrelevant characters or the ones with the least appearances feel real. I especially appreciate the fact that even the side characters feel as three-dimensional as the main protagonist. It’s a minute detail but it makes all the difference.
The overall plot of Sweet Honesty wasn’t anything too complicated, but it was executed quite wonderfully. Just from reading the summary and taking note of the genres, you honestly can’t be prepared for all that happens in the novel. There’s a little dash of every kind of spice for everyone–from thriller to drama to romance and much more. When I noticed this in the novel, I became a little worried. Usually, trying to include everything in just three hundred pages doesn’t end well for anyone. And while I felt as if the novel could’ve done without some aspects of the plot, Lee James’ words were able to hold it all together. It felt like a rubber band that I was expecting to snap but only ended up stretched to its absolute furthest extents–still intact and wonderful as ever, but definitely provoking a dicey situation for a few seconds.
The engagement in this novel was stellar. Almost every word seemed to fit right with the next, and this definitely kept the momentum going. I did take note of the fact that there were some very large time jumps throughout the novel, and executing large time jumps successfully is a difficult task. Regardless, Lee James did a wonderful job with this as well.
I will admit that 363 pages is quite long, and while I have recommended books in the past to read in one sitting, this is not one. In my opinion, one can get more out of Sweet Honesty by reading chapters from it every day and letting the words soak for some time before reading the next bit. I was pleasantly surprised with this novel and strongly believe that it is deserving of the title ‘Best Seller’ in the very near future; I look forward to the day when that happens. Until then, I very much recommend the book Sweet Honesty by Lee James to anyone that may have an interest in romance and historical fiction, with a dash of drama and thrill. I definitely got ‘Raisin in the Sun’ vibes from this book, so if you liked that story, you’ll love this one.
Thank you to Lee James for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.