I was so excited when I received an e-mail from Thomas Nelson Publishers inviting me to review "The Sweet By and By", the first novel for country artist, Sara Evans and co-authored by established authoress Rachel Hauck. I put this book on the top of my list for Christmas vacation reading, and here are my thoughts.
"The Sweet By and By" is an interesting, easy-to-read story. Set in present-day Tennessee, the characters are interesting and well-described. Unfortunately, that's about where my positive thoughts end. The story-line is not terribly well written. There are too many questions left unanswered, and although great amounts of time are investing into Sara's writing about the history that has led to Jade's (our main character) current relationship problems, the resolution of these problems in the end is poorly developed, at best.
The book is touted as a Christian novel, but it seems to be only superficially so. The main character does have a "conversion experience", but it is written so as to seem based mostly on emotion and there is no clear Gospel explanation.
I enjoyed the characters, and I hope that this isn't Sara Evans' last novel, but before publishing another, perhaps there needs to be more time put into plot development and a decision as to whether or not she is going to write secular novels or to take the plunge and write a truly Christian novel.