Lucy Kendall returns to St. Louis from a European tour in September, 1910. It was her hope that she could use what she had learned about candy in Europe to create a new recipe in order to save her father’s failing candy making company. Unrivaled, written by Siri Mitchell, is the story of the circumstances Lucy comes home to and how they affect her life. She finds her father had suffered a heart attack and is now frail. Her mother threatens to sell the company and Lucy begs for time to develop a new recipe. Around the same time, Charlie Clarke arrives in St. Louis to reunite with his father. Lucy is a member of society. Charlie has recently been released from a jail in the South Side of Chicago. On the surface the two protagonists seemingly have little or nothing in common. But, in fact, they do. The commonality is candy. Charlie’s wealthy father now owns and produces the recipe for a wildly popular taffy that Mr. Kendall had once owned.
In the “A Note from the Author” section of the book the author writes “Candy is a surprisingly serious business” and this was true for Lucy and her father. Mr. Kendall had always maintained that Mr. Clarke had stolen the recipe from him, while Mr. Clarke maintained he obtained it legally. Suddenly, Mr. Clarke wants to put Mr. Kendall out of business and he expects Charlie to help him. Lucy will not give up her father’s business without a fight and she proves to be as creative as her competition when it comes to the battle. Mr. Kendall uses child labor in his factory while Mr. Kendall’s employees are treated like family. It becomes apparent someone from Mr. Kendall’s factory is giving their secrets to Mr. Clarke. Complicating life even further, Lucy and Charlie enter into a love-hate relationship actually comprised of more love than hate.
The story is alternately told in the voices of Lucy and Charlie. The dialogue is clear, precise and often witty. Tension runs high throughout this well crafted novel. Both protagonists deal with a variety of personal issues and the end result of the paths they take is a surprise to both of them. This is a book that is worth reading.
I received this book free of charge from Bethany House and I give this review of my own free will.