2 out of 4 stars
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Sugar and Spite by Penny Glover is a fictional novel about love, betrayal, deception, and revenge. Ashley Reynolds, mother of two adolescent daughters, found herself married at age 19 due to an unplanned pregnancy. While her playboy husband, Hunter, began their marriage as a doting father, his insatiable desire for a son eventually led him to stray. When Ashley overhears a gossipy conversation while standing in line at the grocery store, she soon realizes Hunter has not only been stepping out on her but has also fathered a son with his latest mistress. For the sake of her girls, Ashley initially keeps this shocking revelation to herself, but as her husband becomes more brazen, crass, reckless, and abusive, they eventually separate. Will Hunter ironically become ‘the hunted’ and someday get the same sort of disloyal treatment in return?
Even with repeated episodes of cheating, Ashley feels ashamed to mention her turbulent reality to others, but she eventually confides in her mother and sister. When teenage angst and misplaced anger have her daughters, Payton and Quinn, throwing accusations and turning against her, things get physical. The girls blame their mother for the marriage dissolving. One of them even proceeds to run away, but her naïve soul soon comes face-to-face with the harsh realities of what her scheming father is truly capable of. Through the help of loyal allies with open eyes and listening ears, Ashley finally gets her shot at marital payback and vows to take “the money, the house, his dignity… all of that, plus alimony.”
I enjoyed the portions of the story that promoted female empowerment and a palpable sense of sisterly support. The scenes of dialogue flowed with a conversational tone that allowed the distinct personalities of each character to shine through. The author also constructed a realistic portrayal of group dynamics that allowed certain temperaments to authentically clash. It is also worth notably mentioning that as an African American author, Glover utilizes some culturally-distinct rhetoric, phrasing, and terminology throughout the various character interactions that further gives them an air of realistic authenticity.
This 115-page tale actually explored several overlapping storylines of domestic upheaval and deception. Unfortunately, there were also an excessive number of grammatical and typographical errors present throughout, so this title would greatly benefit from a thorough round of professional editing. Due to the present quantity of minor mistakes, the current flow feels somewhat choppy. I would also make the suggestion that chapter one be retitled as a prologue, since the rest of the book shifts to a different narrative point of view and time frame at the start of chapter two.
Readers will come across themes of infidelity, physical abuse, bisexuality, homosexuality, abandonment, promiscuity, cross-dressing, and verbal abuse. With a multitude of violent threats, derogatory insults, some sexually-explicit scenes, and scattered profanity, this book is appropriate for mature audiences only. With a plot that plays out like a reality TV show or a soap opera, it would likely appeal to readers who enjoy a guilty pleasure full of salacious tidbits with significant character drama and false paternity claims. Whether it’s a sister, husband, friend, or family member, trust them until they give you a reason not to; then consider never trusting them again. Women who have had their self-esteem shattered by unfaithful men or unfortunate life experiences will be able to resonate with these characters.
While portions of the storyline did find their karmic conclusions in the final pages, the overall ending seemed a little abrupt. The story left me feeling like there were some loose ends that could be further explored in a series sequel. Due to the aforementioned errors and concerns, I award the current version of this book a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. Mistresses, misters, and runaway brides… “all that sweet sugar has turned into spite!” This is the author’s 5th novel.
Sugar and Spite
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