Whenever I see the cover of Sweet Caroline, my good friend Rachel Hauck’s newest book, I start humming the Neil Diamond classic and I just can’t stop. (I was a huge Diamond fan in high school – had no idea what a cracklin’ Rosie was but I loved that album where Caroline and Rosie debuted).
Well, today, Rachel stops by the Edge so we can chat about this new release, which earned a whopping 4½ stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews right from the starting gate.
What’s Sweet Caroline about in a nutsell?
For most of her life, Caroline Sweeney put the needs of others before herself. When her friends went off to college and exotic European cities, she stayed home in Beaufort to look after her Dad and brother, and whoever else needed her help. At twenty-eight, she’s invited to embark on her own adventure when a friend offers Caroline an amazing job opportunity in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, her home town is calling her to stay. Unexpectedly, Caroline inherits the run-down, money-pit Frogmore Café. Caroline must choose between a Beaufort treasure, the Frogmore Café, and the unusual Barcelona adventure. If that’s not enough, Caroline finds herself torn between two loves – a very hunky deputy Sheriff and a returning hometown boy, a country music star. In the midst of her trials, Caroline shares a lot of laughter with her friends and discovers the sweet fragrance of Jesus as He pursues her heart.
Here’s what Romantic Times Book Club wrote about Sweet Caroline: 4.5 Stars – “Hauck’s adorable novel contains the multi-layered character readers have come to expect from her books. The enjoyable story and unpredictable ending entertains and offers much to think about.”
Hey, Rachel, Where did this story idea come from?
The final product is a long way from the original story idea. Several years ago I had a thought, “What if a girl ended up hosting a TV cooking show, but she couldn’t cook?” I had the title Sweet Caroline and knew I wanted to write a book set in the beautiful South Carolina lowcountry, so I tried to put my cooking show story in Beaufort. But it didn’t work on a few levels, and I added the element of Caroline working at the Frogmore Café. In the end, I had to cut the cooking show story line to focus on Caroline’s life in Beaufort.
I also wanted to write about a woman who willingly set aside her life for others. Yes, she struggles with esteem and fears, but she is also confident enough to venture out if the right opportunity came along. But she’s content to stay home, meet the needs of others.
At the story opening, Caroline doesn’t know God or that He has a plan for her. Yet she’s spent a lot of time talking to “whoever’s up there, if anyone.” One evening Jesus introduces Himself to her. While most of us meet Jesus through hearing and watching others, Jesus is able to touch our hearts in many non-traditional ways. I opted to show that with Caroline. It was fun.
Lovely Rachel is a multi-published author living in sunny central Florida with her husband, Tony, a pastor. They have two ornery pets. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeyes football fan. Rachel is past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and now serves the organization as an Advisor and she’s a LOT of fun to be around.Visit her blog and web site at http://www.rachelhauck.com/.
And hey, if you like stories with lots of romance threads, check out the The Christian Authors Network (CAN) online book club, You’ve Got Books. We’ve got an excerpt of Susan May Warren’s Taming Rafe this week, which also earned 4½ stars from RT. Check it out.
One more hey: Anyone else watching the Jane Austen movies on Sundays on PBS? Mansfield Park was last night. Loved it, loved it . . .