“’You can only live with your heart shut down for so long. Eventually you will fight for your healing, or you will die. Those are your only choices,’” Jackson compassionately reiterated to his church congregation in Denise Hildreth Jones’s novel, Secrets Over Sweet Tea.
At three hundred and ninety-six pages, this paperback book has a Mason jar glass filled with sweet tea with two women’s profiles on the front cover. With no profanity but plenty of silliness, young male humor and comedy among tragedy and heartbreak regarding adultery, divorce, alcoholism and troubled marriages, this book is targeted toward Christian woman looking for redemption, forgiveness, overcoming shame and rebuilding one’s life in a set of three complicated, intersecting love stories. This reader wishes all pronouns related to God were capitalized for reverence.
In this tome, Scarlett Jo, a boisterous, often obnoxious, colorfully dressed, well-endowed physically and nosey pastor’s wife marches to her own tune having five young sons, a loving husband and a well-hidden past that she considers she has overcome by deeply burying and supposedly accepting unconditionally.
When the outgoing, over-the-top, opinionated woman befriends Grace, a beautiful news anchor who moves in to the neighborhood, their friendship blossoms as the attractive yet insecure woman decides to divorce her alcoholic, aging professional athletic husband and start life anew.
Zach, Grace’s divorce attorney, has his own personal issues and is forced not only to deal with his controlling, self-determined wife but his rocky relationship with God. With Scarlett Jo’s husband Jackson’s guidance, Zach has to look at the why and how he faltered from his core religious beliefs.
Besides the author dealing with her own devastating divorce and writing a nonfictional coinciding book about reclaiming one’s heart, she charmingly writes this story about the intimacy and inadequacies of people in the small town of Franklin, Tennessee with the everyday Southern flair of food, fashion and even insects. Each individual’s life is portrayed realistically and sometimes humorously through his and her tears, pain, progress and ultimate life-changing decision.
From the hurt and agony of Grace’s acceptance of her divorce to Zach’s understanding of what true commitment is and Scarlett Jo’s recollection that God has a purpose in all things, the three have to search to find the real condition of their hearts in relationship to God to become free and true to themselves.
This book was received by Tyndale for review purposes.
TOP PICK! 4 ½
Jones can distill the heart of a woman better than most authors. This novel is a wonderful treat that women of every stage and circumstance of life can treasure. There’s no judgment here—just the love of God and the love of true friends.
SUMMARY: Scarlett Jo Newberry is a pastor’s wife in the South, and she isn’t afraid to pray for others or attempt to get in their business if she thinks they need her. Grace Shepherd just moved into the neighborhood, and although she has some secrets, Scarlett Jo is there to help when things fall apart. And when Zach and Caroline Craig’s marriage implodes, the connection continues in unlikely ways.