“Carole arrives in a community that hasn’t moved past the loss of one of its most beloved members. When she falls in love with Charlie, the man who was left behind, will her new friends be able to accept their relationship?”
Carole Allen is a widow who has moved to Davidson, Texas, to start a new life. Charlie North is a widower and long-time resident of Davidson who hasn’t moved past the death of his beloved wife, Honey, five years before. Honey was the children’s pastor at their church, and the church community hasn’t moved past her death either.
Jere Steele’s debut novel explores the implications of a contemporary May-December romance between two characters who both need healing, while also taking a nuanced approach to grief, community, and heritage from a Christian perspective.
Review: This is the story of Charlie and Carole who fall for each other even though some in their lives think they shouldn’t. It’s hard, considering how loved Charlie’s late wife Honey was. Then there is the age gap between Carole and Charlie. Is this relationship going to work? Both of them are bringing baggage to what starts as a friendship. Charlie is still carrying grief, five years after the loss of Honey. Carole is carrying grief and guilt after her own loss that led to an abrupt end to her abusive marriage. She’s now a single mom to a bright 6-year old son who has moved to another state to start life over. Charlie, though, hadn’t thought about starting over. Not until he met Carole and Cal at church.
To complicate things even more, Carole has befriended Amy, Honey’s best friend. In fact, Amy is the only friend Carole has in this new town — well, other than Charlie, of course. What will Amy think when she finds out that Carole has fallen for Amy’s good friend Charlie? Amy promised Honey she’d watch over Charlie and their two, now-grown daughters. She takes the job seriously and oversees it with her husband Ford.
Amy, Ford, Charlie, and Honey were a tight foursome from their college days. Is there room for someone else in the group, even though Honey has been gone. No one can replace Honey so the idea that someone might will one day has always rubbed Amy the wrong way. Carole knows this so if she tells her how she feels about Charlie, she worries Amy will be upset.
If you like easy-going stories with a bit of sweet romance and low-key tension thrown in then you will enjoy Sweeter. It is a nice, relaxing read, but it is also a wonderful reminder that beauty can come from ashes, that forgiveness is possible, and that friendship is a bond stronger than death.