Saturday, July 13, 2013

Review: Sweet Contradiction by Peggy Martinez

Sweet ContradictionTitle: Sweet Contradiction
Author: Peggy Martinez
Release Date: July 13, 2013
Pages: 140, eBook
Goodreads Rating: 4.68 stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Content Rating: R (NA - One somewhat explicit sex scene and a few other sexual scenes)

Summary from Goodreads: When Beth Michaels high tailed it out of the hole-in-the-road town she grew up in, she only had two goals. One—get as far away as quickly as possible, and two—never set foot in her parent’s home again. But when she receives a heart breaking call from her childhood best friend, Jen, she has no choice but to turn her ’56 Ford pickup back in the direction of Salem, Missouri to attend a funeral.

There’s a new local in town when Beth arrives, and suddenly, it ain't all that easy for her to remember her rules for dating. #1. Cookie-cutter-perfect guys ain't her type. #2. Tie wearin’ and church frequentin’ is an automatic dismissal. #3. Most importantly, never date anyone from small minded, conservative, Bible-thumping towns like Salem. Unfortunately, Matthew Wright breaks all her rules and then some.

Matt might be from a small town and have small town values, but that doesn't mean he fits into a little slot of Beth’s preconceived notions. After all, ever so often good guys are good. Now if he could just convince Beth to let go of her past and give him a chance, he’s pretty sure there’s a whole lotta sweet under that prickly exterior. His own … Sweet Contradiction.


My thoughts on this book are really complicated, so forgive me if this review ends up being really long.  I want to start out by pointing out that there is a disclaimer on Goodreads that I didn't include in my summary because I wanted to address it here.  The disclaimer says "FAIR WARNING: If you are easily offended by books that happen to mention things concerning God, Religion, Etc., in a favorable or unfavorable light, then this book might not be for you."  Hmmm... this already got me wondering.  I need to point out that I am a Christian (and not just a "go to church on Sunday, but forget about God the rest of the week" kind of Christian).  When I read the blurb for this book, I thought, "It might be good to read a fun summer romance with a good Christian theme to it."  (I mean, I love my vampires, zombies and teenagers with magical abilities, but I can't say they're always the most wholesome characters!)

But, I have to say that the book was not exactly what I was expecting - in some good ways and some not so good ways.  And, honestly, I think the disclaimer might be scaring off some of the wrong people, so I thought I would take it out of my description and address it here.  This is NOT a traditional Christian romance book.  As you can probably tell by my R rating, it's a bit more explicit than you would expect a Christian book to be and some of the ideals in the book will probably not appeal to a lot of Christians (but will probably be pretty appealing to non-Christians so long as you're not so anti-religion that any mention of it makes you run for the hills - actually, the main character starts out that way, so maybe even you might appreciate the book!).

So, now I need to try to coherently explain how I felt about all of this.  In general, I REALLY liked this book.  There were a few things that kept me from loving it, though.  Instead of just a list of bullet points about what I did and didn't love, I'm going to address how the book handles Christianity as it's own Love/Didn't Love topic and go from there...

Religion in Sweet Contradiction:

What I loved.  I absolutely LOVED that this book explored all sides of Christianity and showed that there is more than one type of Christian - from the Bible thumping, hell-fearing extreme to the extremely liberal, we love everyone extreme.  There were Christians in this book who we really kind of hated and Christians who we really loved (and a few in between).  I thought that this was great!  I also LOVED that the book had Christian themes (and a redeeming message), but wasn't preachy.  I can't stand cheesy, preachy books!

but...  I thought that the book really only presented the two absolute extremes and not a lot of the in-between was shown.  
  • Beth's parents are the ultimate purist Christians who believe that any sign of living in the real world is sinful.  They emotionally abused her throughout her childhood and turned her completely against religion.  They are pretty much portrayed as conservative monsters.  
  • On the other side of things, Matt is a pastor's son who is supposedly very committed to God, but he has no problem sleeping with a girl on their first date, has a gay brother and doesn't care at all if the person he loves and is a relationship with even believes in God or not.   Okay, so the gay brother part was actually totally fine with me (although I know it won't be for some Christians) - his brother is gay, but his family doesn't worry about that.  They love him - the end.  Makes sense.  But the rest of it gave me pause if I'm being truthful.  Okay, I know many (if not most) Christians have pre-marital sex.  But, you'd think he'd have some qualms about telling a girl he just met that he wants to  sleep with her and then following through on their very first date.  I mean, really, most non-Christians have a few qualms about that.  It just seemed a bit odd.  And then there was the fact that he did not care in the least if Beth even so much as believed in God.  She thought it might be an issue, but he acted as though there was absolutely no reason to even think about that.  It just seemed that he was too accepting - so much so that it didn't feel realistic.  I'm not saying he should have broken up with her, but you would think that a pastor's son (who was a strong Christian and supposedly possibly on track to become a pastor himself) would at least consider that being with a non-Christian might be difficult at times.  I consider myself to be a pretty liberal Christian, so I was excited to see that explored in a book. But, in the end, I started to feel that Matt and his family were just a little too accepting of just about anything to ring true for me.
  • The only people in the book who didn't seem to be completely extreme were Jen (Beth's best friend) and her mom.  But their influence, as far as Christianity went, seemed to be largely ignored. Even though Beth considered Jen's mom like a second mother to her, she apparently didn't influence her at all as far as religion was concerned, which seemed odd to me.
Oh, one more thing that I loved: I loved that Beth grew throughout the book and came to realize that she didn't have to completely shy away from everything having to do with God or religion in order to escape her past.  She came to a place of acceptance and possibly understanding with God (but also didn't necessarily jump on the Christian bandwagon, which would have been a little sudden).  I thought that this growth was presented in a touching, non-preachy way and I loved it!

Okay, so I'm sorry if that was a really LONG explanation of my feelings on the religious aspect of the book, but I warned you that my feelings were complicated!  As far as the 

Romance (and Other Stuff) in Sweet Contradiction:

What I loved.  The romance in the book was sweet and romantic - it felt like a perfect, light summer read in that respect.  Matt was a really interesting character - sometimes a bit arrogant, but also fun and lovable and very romantic.  He was definitely swoon-worthy.  I also loved the more serious storylines in the book - death, illness, escape from a haunting past.  All of these things were explored, but they didn't bring the tone of the book down (you didn't feel like you were reading a heavy novel about the effects of a horrible childhood).

but... This book featured the dreaded insta-love and it was hard for me to get past that sometimes.  I guess I just didn't see that instant connection between them or understand why Matt was so sure they were soul mates.  At one point in the book he talks about how he was engaged to someone for a whole year before he figured out that she wasn't meant for him and yet he was sure after one date with Beth that they were meant to be together forever?  He said it didn't matter if the person he was with was a believer or not or whether or not they had anything in common so long as they could sit in silence together and their souls could commune or something (okay, that's not exactly how he put it).  But, I couldn't help but think, "Really?  You could tell all that in one date?"  Ah, insta-love, why do you taunt me so? 

So, I apologize that this was a long, rambling review.  I think that this is a GREAT book to read if you're like me and you like to obsess over the moral and religious themes presented (I REALLY like a book that makes me think!), but you will need to realize that if you have very strong opinions about religion, you might find things in this book you don't like.  If you are neutral on religion, then you can probably happily ignore all of that and just read a sweet summer romance and be happy.  Either way, it's worth a read.  3.5/5 Stars.

**Disclosure: This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***




  1. Hmm... I've never been a fan of religion books. It's like you said. They're either crazy extreme or just a Sunday church goer. They never seem to get it just right.

    1. Yes - to give the author credit, religion is a difficult thing to handle in a book because it's such a personal issue.

  2. Thanks for the informative review (and yes, I read every word). I understand your qualms about the book, with its one extreme or the other presentation of Christians. I make a distinction between whether that message is coming from a fiction or non-fiction book. This being a romance, I guess the message was to show that her parents were too strict.

    The issue that would probably keep me away from this book is the insta-love formulaic plot. I don't read a ton of romances other than romantic suspense, but I do hope to have some relationship building in the plot.
    And sorry if my comment is as long as your post :) I enjoy your blog as always...

    1. Thanks so much for your comment (and for reading the whole thing! :-)

      I actually agree that the insta-love was really the issue that held me back more than the religion. Even though I talked about the religion a lot, that's because the book made me think about it so much (which I love). I think that if the relationship had had more time to build, I would have understood Will's responses more and it would have made him feel more real to me.