A Taste of Honey
Grade : C-

To have a romance set in an early American German settlement – in Texas no less – appealed to me as being unique. A Taste of Honey is part of Jove’s Historical Friends series and is a romance that is sometimes tender, sometimes funny, and demonstrates close family ties and the importance of community. It also has some pretty big story flaws, unfortunately, not the least of which are plotting inconsistencies.

Toya and Betina, best of friends, were separated when Toya’s family left for the New World. They both eventually ended up in New Genesis, Texas, which is a healthy German farm community. Toya is engaged to Peter – a well-to-do councilman who was previously engaged to her sister, Tilly. Tilly was thought to have wandered off and then died of exposure. Although her body was never found, the last time she was seen she was still semi-delirious from snakebite and easily disoriented. Before Tilly wandered off, she made Toya and Peter promise to marry, and since both Toya and Peter are people of their word, they plan to fulfill that promise. There are obstacles, of course. Toya loves another – a young peach farmer by the name of Conrad, who happens to return Toya’s affection. Peter is in love with Betina, who in turn loves him.

Just toss in an evil twin and you have the making of a good daytime show!

When Toya and Betina part ways as young girls, the scene is demonstrative of their devotion to each other. As adult women, however, they do not show anything more than a friendship of necessity, so the best friend suggestion doesn’t pan out. I don’t understand, for example, how Betina could keep quiet when she knew something that could stop Toya’s soon to be unhappy marriage from occurring. There were too many secrets between these women – secrets that just wouldn’t happen between best friends, especially seeing as these German settlers were not a reticent people.

There was also a sub-plot involving another German community that needed aid due to some sort of illness, which was described as a type of scurvy, caused by lack of fruit in their diet. If that was the case, why would it be spreading to the settlers in Toya’s community? Scurvy is not contagious, after all.

There were other problems as well, such as a tendency for these people, especially Conrad’s grandfather, to speak in flowing metaphor:

Be patient with this wayward bee. Let him sow his oats. He will find the best pollen because he is not afraid to look where others won’t. Let him fly untethered now. He will achieve his destiny in his own good time.

What comes to my mind is the show Kung Fu.

What I found enjoyable about A Taste of Honey was its delightful depiction of German culture. I also found the tenderness of Conrad toward Toya to be wonderful to read. There are charming secondary characters, such as Toya’s aged aunts, and Conrad’s grandfather (when he is not spouting metaphor). However delightful the setting and certain of its characters, A Taste of Honey suffers from serious plotting errors, which makes it difficult to recommend this romance. As a final comment, I’d like to add that I had no idea Germans were such an earthy bunch – there is lots of overtly sexual conversation between these pages.

Reviewed by Rebecca Ekmark

Grade: C-

Book Type: 

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : May 26, 1999

Publication Date: 1999

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