Lizzie Carpenter had dreams of leaving home and getting out of Galton. She never planned on being a pregnant teen or being abandoned by her boyfriend, who took off for Europe without a word. Fourteen years later, she’s a single mom raising her daughter and working at the local diner. Life isn’t perfect- her house needs lots of repairs -but she loves her daughter and is trying to raise her to be independent like the women in her “enemy club”. The princess, the oddball, and the brain make up the “enemy club” with Lizzie, the good girl gone bad - four girls who were rivals in school but are now the best of friends, they tell each other the truth and nothing but the truth. Jill Kennedy, the ex-cheerleader and princess, owns the local real estate company and still dresses perfectly. Nina Stokes, the oddball, now gives yoga lessons and believes in free-love, and Georgia Phillips, the brain, became the town’s psychologist.
When Lizzie and her daughter, Paige, get a letter from Ethan Pond, the father Paige has never met, they both fly into a panic. Paige is worried her father will think she’s a loser because their house is in bad shape and Lizzie’s afraid he’ll lure Paige away with a promise of life elsewhere. At the next meeting of the “enemy club,” Lizzie shares the news of Ethan’s letter with the “enemy club” which leads to Lizzie making a wish for a man to fix her house without wanting anything in return. Fate intervenes by having Dante “Tay” Giovanni overhear their conversation and decide to become Lizzie’s unsolicited handyman.
Both Lizzie and Tay are fantastic leads for this story, Lizzie is a strong, independent woman who’s been making decisions based on her past without realizing it--she hasn’t given any man a chance since she was betrayed as a teen. Tay is a strong, handsome man who’s come to Galton to try to make amends to the victim of an accident he caused; he can’t forgive himself and doesn’t know how to ask for forgiveness from others correctly. They both have issues that the other can see and that they eventually help each other overcome.
The secondary characters are very important to the story. We meet Annie, Lizzie’s older sister, who’s married to one of Lizzie’s ex-boyfriends and is suffering from post-partum depression and she's also harboring some serious jealousy and resentment towards Lizzie that been disguised for years. We meet Tommy, Annie’s husband, one of the town cops, who’s been stuck for years between both sisters trying to do the right thing for everyone. And of course, we meet “the enemy club” – three women whose past and present continue to cross in interesting and sometimes funny ways. We also meet Ethan, the young man who abandoned Lizzie and comes back to meet his daughter, not knowing that he’s going to end up having to make amends.
How Sweet It Is blends romance with a story about forgiveness. Sophie Gunn did an excellent job blending a large cast of characters with good dialogue and the message that life is messy and that to forgive others, we must first learn to forgive ourselves and accept that sometimes forgiveness is not immediate and sometimes it requires that we make amends. This is the first story in a series planned by Ms. Gunn, which will focus on each member of the “enemy club” individually. The next story will feature Nina’s story and I’m looking forward to its release.
Single mom Lizzie Bea Carpenter learned long ago that no white knight was coming to save her. A hardworking waitress at the local diner, she's raising her daughter to be like the independent women in her "Enemy Club"--high school rivals turned best friends, promising to always tell each other the whole truth and nothing but!
Yet part of Lizzie wishes she did have a man's help, just for small stuff, like fixing up the house. Her fairy godmother must have been listening, because Dante "Tay" Giovanni soon appears. He's sexy, kind, and offering assistance--no strings attached.
Slowly, steadily, Lizzie's heart opens. But the grip of the past is fierce, and nothing in life is ever really free. Tay has his own tragedies to overcome, but if he can, he'll fix more than Lizzie's home. He'll show her just how sweet it is to be loved by him.