when a book inspires action

books and caramels

I’ve always said that the best books inspire action of some kind.

Well, I just read a book and while I don’t think it is necessarily one of the “best books” it did in fact inspire action on my part.

Siri Mitchell writes historical fiction and her newest novel ( Unrivaled) happens to be about the candy business.

Lucy is the daughter of a candy maker who created a bestselling taffy but then lost the recipe and his company in a business deal gone bad.

Charlie is a rough ‘n tough survivor from the wrong side of town who ends up in trouble with the law for a crime he didn’t commit. In desperation his mother writes a letter, requesting that her long-gone (and ridiculously rich) husband do something to help the son he abandoned years before.

The two young people are quite enthralled with each other until they discover that the successful empire Charlie will someday inherit was built on a certain recipe for the best taffy ever made.

It is a typical historical romance but Mitchell has incredible talent when it comes to writing about sweet confections. It felt a bit like stepping into the set for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (I almost burst into a verse of Truly Scrumptious with a rousing rendition of Toot Sweets….)

All the talk of whipping egg whites and boiling sugar and pulling taffy, of nougat and chocolate and crunch….

It was cute. Fun. And inspired me to stand up and make a batch of caramel taffy. Seriously.

caramel taffy

The boys followed me around the kitchen as I threw water and sugar and salt, vinegar and butter into a pan. It boiled and they sighed at the smell. Eyes widened as I pulled the long strips of shiny sweetness.

I let them taste a bite and they seemed a bit shocked. “You’re good!” the seven-year-old said in surprise.

I didn’t burst my his bubble by telling him that it is virtually impossible to mess up sugar and butter.

caramel taffy

The book was a decent read and the caramels it inspired? Delish.

The only thing that would have been better would be a few recipes in the book itself. Instead I had to make up my own (because after reading about Lucy tossing together ingredients in her 1910 kitchen, I just couldn’t bring myself to google it!) which was an adventure in itself!

If you want to make some, just mix together 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, a splash of vinegar, a dash of salt, a tablespoon of butter– then mix on high heat, boiling for 8-10 minutes (until hardball stage). Add another tablespoon of butter, mix it well, and then let cool until you can touch it without it burning you. Butter your hands well and pull, pull, pull. Keep pulling until it is completely cool.  Whalla! yumminess. 

You can find more about Siri Mitchell here (or follow her on twitter here).

Bethany House Publishers sent me this book in exchange for an honest review. They probably had no idea that it would cost me a few ingredients and some hyped-up-on-sugar kiddos. 


9 thoughts on “when a book inspires action

    • Not once? Not even a little meringue? 😉 I seriously was drooling over the thought… but maybe it’s because my yearly sugar-high during the holiday season was seriously impaired by this horrible sugar-free-8-week-diet thing that I (crazily) decided to go on right before Thanksgiving.

      Regardless, it was a blast (the book and the candy). Thanks for writing such a fun novel, and for stopping by to comment. 🙂


    • For years I made candy every Christmas. And I’ve been to a few old fashioned taffy pulls in my time. 🙂

      I’ve always loved making candy but I’ve never (as in, ever-ever) managed to own a candy thermometer at the same time that I’ve made candy. And I have bought many, many thermometers. Turns out I break them or my husband “borrows” them long before I have a chance to use them.

      That said, sometimes my caramels become peanut brittle and sometimes ice cream syrup. 😉


  1. What a fun review, Natasha! I still make chocolates every Christmas–chocolate-covered caramels, peanut butter cups, and truffles–but haven’t thought about making taffy in a long while. You’ve inspired me to do so this weekend. Thanks for the recipe.


  2. Now I totally have to beg my husband to let me get this book 🙂 It sounds really lovely!
    By the way, It is very possible to mess up sugar and butter.
    I wonder how long I will be able to keep myself from making this 🙂 I always resolve to be healthy and throw all the sugar out of the house and then something like this pops up ;p


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