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 To one man she gave her virginity; to another, she gave her heart. One, she would mourn. With the other, she would share life's triumph and turmoil. With both, she would endure times of love, and passion and complete happiness as well as times of despair, confusion, and sorrow. One day at a time—each day, building unforgettable memories.


Sweet Pea spans from the late 1960's into 2009. Set in rural Missouri, it is a story for those who remember the profound cultural changes and historical events that took place in the later part of the 20th Century. It is is a nostalgic story of growing up; of forging lifelong friendships and loyalty within family that supports every life event, good or bad. It is a story of love that binds a man and a woman despite all odds. It is also a story of obsessive hatred and how such hatred destroys not only the innocent, but those who hate.

Sweet Pea I: The Demise of Innocence (1968-70)

Demise of Innocence


At seventeen Johnie is no longer a child but still full of virgin innocence—and defiance. Her final year of high school isn’t exactly a picnic as she endures the untimely deaths of two friends, a third disappears on Prom night and a rocky relationship with a jealous boyfriend. The summer after graduation she encounters her first ‘real’ love and the loss of her virginity to a soldier bound for Viet Nam. By fall, she discovers the world of factory employment. As fate intervenes in every avenue of her life, throughout the harsh winter of 1970, she learns growing up involves a lot more than physical loss of her virginity.

Sweet Pea II: Time to Deceive (1973-74)

Time to Deceive


Getting married means you’re going to live happily ever after with your true love. Right? Unfortunately, for Johnie, the first thing she learns after marrying Phil is the necessity of deception as she conceals her longing for Jake. Fate continues its cruel intervention when members of Johnie’s family meet untimely deaths and Jake returns to mourn the loss of his sister. Jake and Johnie reunite briefly, painfully, in determination to adopt their four-year-old nephew, B.J. Together, they tackle the on-going vengeance of Phil’s sister, Brenda. Johnie’s dream of happiness becomes a nightmare where Brenda cackles while Johnie boils naked in a cauldron of pea green soup. Because of Marsha’s return and steadfast loyalty, Johnie is able to endure even the most unthinkable.

Sweet Pea III: The Price of Passion (1984-1990)

The Price of Passion


Time has come and gone, years pass, Johnie’s children are growing and she has learned to accept her parents’ untimely death. Her friendship with Marsha continues to thrive. By the time ‘the 70’s’ become ‘the 80’s’, Johnie has also built an enduring relationship with her mother-in-law, Amie. Her marriage to Phil is a sham. Although they tried, they were never able to rekindle the trust they once shared. All those years, a secret part of Johnie’s soul survives nurturing the memory of Jake. Fate strikes several more dramatic blows and once again, everything changes.


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Reviews for Sweet Pea


Tank 5.0 out of 5 stars Heartache, Tears, and Joy  December 5, 2017

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I'm not a fan of romances, but Mary Fricke's yarns are worth my time.Demise of Innocence is no exception. Fricke writes about what she knows -- rural Missouri and the people. Then she dreams up a good story within that world and the combination is enchanting.

Her heroin is good-looking, doesn't know it, and manages to mess up her life and that of those around her. But then, she's young and doesn't know any better (and it doesn't help that she's surrounded by people who have agendas of their own which aren't always benign). The combination makes for a riveting tale of love, betrayal, and yes -- sex.

This all seems to come back to a fixture in the story -- a glider (the thing on the cover), where the heroin often goes to sort out her feelings. It starts there (with the older version of the heroin reflecting on her past) and touches "base" a number of times. Gonna read the next one as well.


Vicky Tillman 5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put It Down
December 20, 2017Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well, the transition to Time To Decisive ( Sweet Pea II ) was not disappointing. Mary Fricke smoothly took me right into the next chapter of Johnie's, Phil's, Jake, Gary, Marsha, BJ, and yes crazy Brenda's life. There was some unforeseen twist in this one that made me go oh no. Lies that continued, and lives that drastically changed. Mary Fricke certainly keeps you wanting to read quickly to get to the next page. Read this book in less then 24 hrs and can't wait to see what direction lives take in the next book The Price Of Passion (Sweet Pea III ) If you love books about love, friendships, deceit, hatred, and mystery then you will not be disappointed in any of Mary Elizabeth Fricke's books. I have bought everyone she has written and published and have not been disappointed in any of them. Very talented author.



Five Star Review!

John B. Bowers
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Novels!  December 8, 2017 Verified Purchase
I recently finished reading the third book in the Sweet Pea trilogy. When I started the first one, Demise of Innocence, I was captivated by not only the characters, but also the period. Mary Fricke must be about my age because she remembers the same things I do: the Vietnam war, the cars we drove and admired, the music we loved--all of it. As I was reading the story, I could almost hear Tommy Roe singing "Oh, Sweet Pea, won't you dance with me?"  Right out of my senior year in high school.
         But that wasn't the best part. The story is captivating, a tale of a confused, somewhat immature young woman who is beset with all the trauma of her teenage years, confused about love, making stupid decisions, and paying the price. Over the course of three breathless novels, the reader agonizes with her over loves lost and found, the trials and tragedies of the maturing process, and in the end we get to see the final result. This series contains a lot of drama and plumbs the depths of human nature, both good and bad. In many respects it's a timeless story that could have been set in any period, any part of America.
       Although these books are categorized as Romance, they are much more than that. They are a slice of real life, which no other romance I've ever read can claim.
 I read the Birds in Peril series and now the Sweet Pea series. I look forward to Mary Fricke's next offering, whatever it may be. She is definitely one of my favorite authors!