‘UNRIVALED,’ by Siri Mitchell


‘UNRIVALED,’ by Siri Mitchell. Review of the 2008 historical fiction novel. All review text © Rissi JC

STORY: 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; a candy maker, Lucy grew up under his teaching. 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 go to his competition, Warren Clarke also the man who stole her father’s prize taffy recipe! More than mere upset sets Lucy’s heart aflutter with the unexpected arrival of the handsome Charlie. His past is mysterious, yet there is something kind about him. By the time Lucy finds out that he’s actually her competition, it’s too late.

Charlie has already fallen for Lucy, and for the first time, he wants to be better. For Lucy.


When the book arrived, I paged through, and was prepared for it to be something I’d have to force myself through. It’s not that the setting didn’t appeal, it’s the discovery of not only one first person prose but two that gave me this feeling. Fortunately, the alternating POV’s (every chapter) isn’t difficult in any means to follow; the book is such an “easy” read, which nearly makes up for any character faults. At times, you have to pause to remember whose perspective we’re in which is no great flaw since the writing is simplistically charming.

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They say not to judge a book by its cover and yet with Unrivaled, this is the first thing I notice. It’s simply gorgeous (also, isn’t Charlie cute!?). The colors are inviting as is the composition subtly flirtatious.

After being invited to this blog tour, it made me realize I’ve not read a novel by Siri, but many of my favorite people highly recommend her novels. All of this prompts me to become acquainted with the writings of Siri Mitchell. Upon reading the book, the one thing that strikes me is its unique story-line. The making and selling of candy is not usually such an interesting backdrop and yet this book makes it so. It holds my interest in spite of its (reader opinion) flaws.


Heroes, no matter the genre or story should be noble. They should be a person we root for and “connect” with. There are those characters 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’s a cute, feisty heroine who knows what she wants (or thinks she does!). Too many of her “ideas” turn “mean” which does nothing to endear her. 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 is, unfortunately, cause for regret.

Despite the flaws, Unrivaled is a sweet read. And I mean that honestly. It has personality and holds my interest. Sadly, it would be dishonest of me not to share the themes I, as a reader find fault with . Including a sudden, far too “convenient” ending and characters who are 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.

About the Book:

Author: Siri Mitchell
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2013
Genre: Fiction; Christian, Historical
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

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

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  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. :)

    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!)

    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! :)

  2. 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?

  3. 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!!!

  4. 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. ;)

  5. 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*

  6. 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! :)

  7. 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.

  8. 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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