This is the second novel in the Chicory Inn series. In the first novel, we followed Audrey and Grant Whitman as they came to the place of opening the inn. (You can read my review of that novel here.) This novel concentrates on their daughter Corinne and her family.
It must be every man's nightmare, being accused of sexual harassment at work. And what if you are “innocent” in that whatever signals you gave were out of ignorance, not intent? Would you be afraid to show any affection to a female besides your wife, even to your own sisters-in-law?
That's what happened to Jesse, Corinne's husband. When Jesse spurns a female co-worker's advances, she becomes bitter and threatens a lawsuit. Jesse's friendly and outgoing manner may have sent the wrong messages. Corinne and Jesse struggle to keep their family on an even path during the ensuing turmoil. When the female co-worker pulls a stunt that endangers their daughters, Jesse and Corinne know they can't ignore the nightmare any longer. Will their marriage crumble or can they trust God for a secure future?
While this is a wonderfully written novel, it's subject matter is hard to read about. A woman scorned can be bitter and vengeful. Jesse and Corinne feel the full weight of the situation and it threatens the stability of their marriage. It reminds me again how important communication and trust are for a successful marriage. It also makes me think about the sacrifices a wife is willing to make to see her husband succeed. It also makes me think about the reality of how important it is for husbands to flee from temptation.
I found it interesting to read of Audrey's feelings about having the inn. Running and inn and trying to be the quintessential grandma wasn't quite what she had envisioned. Retired couples might think running an inn, or having a bed and breakfast, sounds so romantic. Then reality sets in.
The characters in the book are wonderfully developed. We get a real picture of a marriage under stress. Raney has done an excellent job of bringing us into the Whitman family as changes are endured. And there is that little bit of sibling rivalry, about whether a couple has children or not and, in this case, the size of the house they own. I love the way the daughters of Corinne and Jesse were crafted. That little Sadie, what a talkative pistol she is.
Events in this novel bring up an issue about God's leading. Sometimes He might cause the situation we are in to become very uncomfortable so we will move in another direction. It might even been a direction, perhaps a career change, we've been thinking about for years but just never had the nerve to do it. God provides the tipping point to get us on the path He's planned for the best use of our talents.
Can it really be true that a rough time for a marriage might just be one of the best things that ever happened to the couple? That's exactly what Corinne's sibling assures her and Jesse after one of their Whitman family dinners. Reading this novel might convince you that it is the hard times that do make you stronger – relying on the Lord for strength is essential. It was an enjoyable read and I recommend it.
I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.
Deborah Raney is an award-winning author. Her novels have won the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award. She has also been a Christy finalist. She and her husband live in Wichita. You can find our more at http://deborahraney.com/.
Abingdon Press, 304 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse for the purpose of an independent and honest review.