Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell

Friday, March 29, 2013

About the Book:
Author: Siri Mitchell
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2013
Genre: Fiction; Christian, Historical
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

Back from a whirlwind tour in Europe where she dined with some of England’s most prominent and has trunks full of the latest fashions, Lucy Kendall can think of nothing better than returning home to her home and father. As a candy maker, Lucy grew up under his teaching and is a dreamer as a result. Upon her arrival, she is told by her mother that her father suffered a heart attack and plans are underway to sell their failing confectionary. Horrified, Lucy refuses to see her father’s business sold to his competition in Warren Clarke – the man who stole her father’s prize taffy recipe, no less! More than mere upset is setting Lucy’s heart aflutter with the arrival of the handsome Charlie. His past is shadowed in mystery and regret yet there is something kind-hearted about him. By the time Lucy finds out that he is actually her competition, it's too late - Charlie has fallen for Lucy, and for the first time, he wants to be better. For Lucy.
When the book arrived, I had paged through it and was prepared for it to be a book I’d have to force myself through. The setting appealed as a fascinating one (and it was!), it was the discovery of not only one first person prose but two that set me on edge; this is one style I’d never before experienced. Fortunately, the alternating POV’s (every chapter) wasn’t difficult in any means to follow – the book was such an “easy” read, which nearly made up for any character faults. At times, you have to stop and pause to remember whose perspective you are getting which is no great flaw since the writing is simplistically charming.

They say not to judge a book by its cover and yet with Unrivaled, that was the first thing that brought it to my attention – it was simply gorgeous (is Charlie cute or what!?). The colors are inviting as is the composition subtly flirtatious.

After being invited to this blog tour, it made me realize that I’d never read a novel by Siri, then she came highly recommended, which led to further reading and a plot that sounded good. All of this combined prompted me that it was past time to become acquainted with the writings of Siri Mitchell. Upon reading the book, the one thing that struck me was what a unique story-line. The making and selling of candy is not usually such an interesting backdrop and yet this book was – it held my interest the entire time even with its unfortunate snags.
Heroes, no matter the genre or story should be noble. They should be a person we want to aspire to – or at the very least someone whom we "connect" with. Granted, there is a fine line between creating ones who seem “perfection” and those who are a diamond in the rough but nevertheless, a flawed but “good” hero needs to carry the story. With exception to moments of brilliance, Charlie let me down a few too many times. Then there is Lucy. She was a cute, feisty heroine who knew what she wanted – or thought she did. Too many of her “ideas” turned “mean” doing nothing to endear her as she should have been. Her desire to see her father’s company restored messes with her sense of self-pride – an element that is ramped up about three-fourths of the way through, prior to that, it’d been less evident– and it was, unfortunately, cause for regret.

Despite the flaws, Unrivaled was a sweet read. And I mean that honestly. It has personality and held my interest. Sadly, it would be dishonest of me not to share the themes I, as a reader found fault with - including a sudden, far too “convenient” ending and characters who were hard to root for in the final chapters, I don’t know that I’ll be running out to pick up more of Mitchell’s books.

Synopsis: Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager--a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.

Charlie Clarke's new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he's never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She's making his work life miserable...and making herself impossible for him to forget. – from the publisher

With thanks to Litfuse and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes


  1. Sorry this one didn't reach the expectations of that lovely cover. :( I have Mitchell's The Messenger on my shelf right now, I have yet to get to it though.

    Thanks for your review!

    1. Rosie, please share when you read Siri's novel. I'd like to get your thoughts. This one was actually a better read than I anticipated and for that, I liked it. And, oh, that cover art! :)

      Thank you for reading, Rosie. :)

  2. I’m sorry this one didn’t work for you, but thank you for persevering and for taking the time to write and post a review!

    1. Hello, Siri!

      Contrary to what my review may suggest (my apologies if it does) I did enjoy your novel - it was a pleasant setting and very easy read. It was just near the last third of the book, I took issue with some of Lucy's methods of putting Charlie out of business and vice versa.

      Thank you for stopping by. :)

    2. I did too -- don't feel bad! Lucy just really wouldn't listen to me or anyone else by that point. It's astonishing sometimes what characters will do. (And now I probably sound crazy...occupational hazard!)

    3. LOL! Your comment made me smile, Siri. So, Lucy had a mind of her own, huh!? That doesn't surprise me in the least. ;)

  3. I don't like it when books have easy endings either. Thanks for reviewing this.

    I tried to reply to the comment you left on my blog and it said you were a "no-reply" blogger. Here's a link for how to change that if you'd like to.


    1. Thanks for reading, Susannah. :)

      ...and for the blogger reply tip - since I use the blog to leave replies (which I prefer), I confess I don't think about others replying to my comments unless it's on the blog. Thank you for sharing though! :)

  4. Just popping over to say...well, two things I guess. 1. I like the new headers in your review! And 2. Sorry you didn't love this one. Have you read others by Siri?

    1. You do!? Thank you, Charity - I am trying to find a book review format that works "best" for my readers and yet looks nice also. I appreciate the feedback, my friend. :)

      Believe it or not, I didn't expect to like this novel as well as I did, so it was a "nice" read. Have you read this one yet? I'd be happy to lend it to you if you'd ever wish to read it. No, this was the only one of Siri's to make it to my book shelf. However, rcommendations have been given for her contemporaries so I think I may give one of them a try - which have you read?

  5. Sad that you weren't more thrilled with this one...I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. Some of Lucy's schemes definitely were on the mean side, but I just found it rather humorous how Charlie almost always was able to out-scheme Lucy, sometimes even without trying.

    I really like Siri's books, she's one of my favorite Christian authors, but I confess that I do like her contemporary stories the best. "The Cubicle Next Door" is definitely a fun one, but I also enjoyed "Moon Over Tokyo" and "Kissing Adrien" as well. You might want to try one of her contemporary novels before you give up.... ;)

    1. To be honest, Valerie, when I was paging through the novel, my first thoughts were that this wasn't going to be a good book. Unexpectedly I DID wind up enjoying it so that was a pleasant surprise. In the end, it was good just not the "best" of its genre IMO.

      So glad you liked it!

      Huh, those contemporary recommendations sound promising - you have me intrigued. (The titles alone are cute!) Now, I'll have to keep them in mind for the next Amazon shopping spree. ;) I'll certainly consider another title by her. Thanks!!!

  6. Too bad that it didn't end up being what you hoped. So disappointing when that happens! :( But also glad you did enjoy it too. Isn't it funny how stories can make us fluctuate between liking it or not? I mean how I can love the story overall, but certain parts frustrate me and that makes it harder to love. So then I go back and forth on how to classify my feelings when trying to describe them to someone else. :/

    I've been really looking forward to this one! Now you've got me doubly curious what I'm going to think. But I know I'll still try it. I love Siri's contemporary books.

    Also? That cover is cute! And yes, Charlie is adorable! I do like my couple covers. :D

    1. It is ironic when that happens, Kara. Sometimes it's hard to explain. My mother will ask me if I liked something and maybe my answer is less enthusiastic than she thought so she concludes I didn't like something. Usually I have to reinforce that I DID like [it], just not as the "best" of its genre.

      Because of its easy reading and setting, Unrivaled was an unexpected yet pleasant surprise. It wasn't until over half way through the novel that I really found Lucy at her worst. She just... irked me a bit. Do be sure to let me know what you think! I'd enjoy reading your thoughts. :)

      Charlie is cute. Love design and how the character appears to be so lovingly crushing on Lucy. Couple covers are EPIC. ;)

  7. Hey Rissi - great job with your review :) Here's the thing, I ADORE Siri Mitchell's books. She is an amazing writer and her first book, Chateau of Echoes, was my very first review on my blog back in 2006! I have loved every one of her books, both contemporary and historical, but as you know I struggled a bit with this one, too. So, I'd really encourage you to pick up her other books, and I especially think you would enjoy her contemporaries. Siri's characterisation is always fantastic and like she says above, her characters have minds of their own - LOL! You'd be really missing out if you didn't give her books another shot.

    Have a fabulous day, my friend xo

    1. Rel - hey! So glad you stopped in. And thank you for reading!

      On my next Amazon shopping spree, I may search out a Siri Mitchell contemporary; I'm discovering that I only like certain eras whereas contemporaries are usually my sort of book. You know my book tastes well and I would certainly be willing to give another one a try. :) Good characterization is important in my reading tastes, and I don't mind protagonist's with spunk. To be honest, I liked both Lucy and Charlie up until the final chapters. Only then did they got a little out of hand. ;)

      Aw! That's neat knowing Siri's novel was the first you reviewed - what a fun memory. :)

      Thanks for dropping in - same to you, my friend! Happy Saturday, and Easter. :) *hugs*

  8. I didn't like this one quite as much as some of Siri's other books. . . and yeah, I was judging the book by the cover, too ;) Is it just me, or does the model for Lucy look like Sybil Crawley Branson?
    If you haven't read 'She Walks in Beauty' or 'Love's Pursuit', you're missing out on some of Siri Mitchell's best historical fiction, IMO--I definitely recommend them!

    1. Lucy does remind a bit of Sybil - you are right. I think perhaps her blonde hair kind of throws one off at first.

      Yeah, I do agree with you that something about this novel prevents me from claiming this as a favorite however I have heard great things about some of Siri's earlier novels so maybe I'll try a different book. I want one set around this time though so I'll look into it. :) Thanks for the recommendations, Jess-Rose.

      Appreciate you stopping by! :)

  9. Interesting review, Rissi. I'd read my first Siri Mitchell book a few months ago (Love's pursuit) and found it very nice and interesting (it also has two first-person narrators BTW), so I've been thinking about picking up some more of her. But this one will not be the first though!

    BTW, I love your new layout, especially the font, it's great!

    1. Thanks for reading, Birdienl.

      Many of my bookish friends (as is evidenced in these comments :D) are urging me to give another of Siri's novels a shot, so I may buy one of her contemporaries since generally that is the genre I read most of. We'll see...

      Aw, thank you! Since I began blogging, I've used the same template so I was WAY past restless for a more dramatic change. Switching headers comes easily. The templates... not so much. My main concern with this is how it reacts in different browsers. I exclusively use IE and once with a different layout, a girl shared that it didn't "code" correctly in hers, so that is something I am leery about. I did check this one in Firefox and it was A-Okay.

  10. I've read several of Siri Mitchell's books, and though I enjoyed this one somewhat, it wasn't my favorite. The Messenger was a good one, though- my favorite of hers. (I reviewed both of them on my blog here: http://atreeabookandabreeze.blogspot.com/) I haven't read any of her contemporary stuff, though. I might have to look into them. :)

    Oh, and I just wanted to add that I love your new blog look :) Haven't yet gotten to the 11th doctor, but I'm looking forward to it!

    1. Judging just by the historical genre, it wasn't mine either, Hayden. Something about it just didn't capture my fancy. It was entertaining (more so that I expected) just not great.

      Thanks for the link! I will be checking out your lovely book review blog. :)

      Thanks for the layout feedback, Hayden! Switching headers comes easily, a completely new template, not so much. Plus I am always so nervous about how it will "code" in other browsers. Hope this one is okay. :)

      Enjoy the 11th doctor - that's the only one I "know." He's pretty cute. ;)


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