Category Archives: Rated A

Review: The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

Title: The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

All their lives, Alice Stanhope and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two, living quietly in northern California. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works—until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and needs to fight for her life.

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets—secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family. Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, and the new ways in which families are forged.

Review:

The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth is a bittersweet novel about a single mother who discovers she has cancer.  Alice Stanhope is a devoted mom whose worry over her teenage daughter Zoe initially eclipses her concern about her health but she is soon forced to face the implications of her diagnosis.

At the age of forty, Alice has had a few health scares, so she is at first unconcerned about her doctor’s recommendation for surgery.  Reality quickly sets in and despite her claim she does not need any help, nurse Kate Littleton and hospital social worker Sonja step in to lend assistance.  Zoe’s severe social anxiety is difficult to manage when things are normal, so Alice is less than forthcoming with her daughter (and herself) about her diagnosis.  Although things are tense with her husband, David, Kate is more than happy to help out with Zoe but Alice is having a difficult time accepting Kate’s support for her daughter. Sonja is also trying her best to be there for both Alice and Zoe but she is struggling to cope with her psychologist husband’s increasingly rough treatment of her.  Alice’s alcoholic brother Paul is surprisingly helpful but maintaining his sobriety is an impossible endeavor.  In the aftermath of her surgery, Alice remains positive about her prognosis but is she deluding herself?  And if she is, what will happen to Zoe?

Alice and Zoe have lived a very insular life from the time Zoe was about two years old.  Alice founded a business that enabled her to keep her daughter out of daycare and until kindergarten, Zoe was a happy, well-adjusted little girl.  Zoe’s debilitating social anxiety and panic attacks began when she entered school and despite treatment, she has found little success in finding ways to cope with her disorder. Since Zoe only has one close friend, Alice and Zoe spend the most of their time together and Alice is fiercely protective of her daughter.

Kate is happily married with two teenage stepchildren whom she adores.  She loves her job and her affection for the patients in her care is genuine. When Zoe needs a place to stay while Alice is undergoing surgery and chemo, Kate is quick to welcome her into their home.   Although she has a full and happy life, Kate and David are at an impasse in their marriage and with each of them on opposite sides of an issue, the bond between them is becoming quite fragile.

Sonja is shocked by the changes in her husband George and she is not ready to admit his rough treatment of her might be crossing the line into abuse.  After all, a social worker would be the first person to recognize the signs of domestic violence, wouldn’t she?  For the first time in her career, Sonja is beginning to understand why the women she has tried to help continue to stay with their boyfriends and husbands.  Although Sonja remains uncertain about the future of their relationship, she is taking steps to protect herself when circumstances force her to take a stand.

The Mother’s Promise is a captivating novel that is heartwarming and deeply affecting.  Sally Hepworth broaches difficult topics such as social anxiety, cancer, alcoholism, abuse, Crohns Disease  and more with a great deal sensitivity. This deft handling  provides readers with  insightful and educational  information about topics that are rarely discussed. The various situations each of the women are facing intertwine into a meaningful storyline that is heartfelt and emotional. An incredibly moving novel that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.

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Filed under Contemporary, Rated A, Review, Sally Hepworth, St Martin's Press, The Mother's Promise, Women's Fiction

Review: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Title: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Following in the footsteps of her critically acclaimed novel If You Only Knew, multi-bestselling author Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together

Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who’s already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband.

Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan’s death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and she learns that sometimes the people who step up aren’t the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one.

Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

Review:

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins is a sad but witty, heartbreaking yet uplifting novel about two sisters whose bond is strengthened after they experience life altering events.

At thirty-nine, Kate O’Leary has finally come to terms with her single status so she is somewhat bemused and wary when Nathan Coburn asks for her phone number. Convinced she’ll never hear from the handsome architect, she is pleasantly surprised to find herself in a whirlwind relationship. Married just a few months after they begin dating, Kate is barely used to being a wife when she is widowed after a tragic accident.

Unlike Kate, her thirty-three year old half-sister, Ainsley has been with her boyfriend, Eric Fisher, since college.  Ainsley has been anxiously awaiting for Eric to pop the question and after discovering an engagement ring, she is chomping at the bit for his proposal now that he is fully recovered from testicular cancer. So imagine her surprise, when Eric asks unceremoniously dumps her then publicly humiliates her  on his blog.  With no place to go, Ainsley temporarily moves in with Kate which turns out to be a huge blessing in disguise for both women.

Kate’s struggle to grieve Nathan’s loss is surprisingly complicated since they were only together such a short time.  She treasures her precious few memories of them as a couple but she cannot help but wonder if she would have been better off never marrying him since he died so soon after their life together begins.  After hearing other people’s memories of the man she is just realizing she barely knows, Kate begins questioning their entire relationship.  It certainly does not help that Kate’s friends from her single days are not exactly supportive although she is pleasantly surprised by the one person who does make an effort to be there for her.

Ainsley first comes across as an empty-headed ninny but behind her unfailingly cheerful and positive facade, she is unexpectedly intuitive and insightful.  She certainly has blinders on about her self-absorbed, selfish boyfriend and even after Eric uses their break up to find his fifteen minutes of fame, she still wants to reconcile with him. Which is why  Ainsley is a little confused when she begins to notice her uptight, seemingly emotionless boss is an attractive man with a surprising amount of depth.

Between their age difference and their complicated family dynamics, Kate and Ainsley were never overly close even though they genuinely care about one another.  Kate is quite shocked at how much she appreciates Ainsley once she moves in with her.  Although some of their interactions are somewhat awkward due to Ainsely’s uncanny ability to put her foot in her month, Kate appreciates her sister’s emotional support.  Equally surprising is Ainsley’s no nonsense advice as she gently coerces Kate to return to “normal” life.  Both sisters discover new and surprising things about one another and to the delight of both women, they finally close the gap in their once distant relationship.

On Second Thought is an emotional novel of love, loss and new beginnings.  The characters are beautifully developed with relatable flaws and true to life issues to overcome. The touching storyline will resonate with anyone who has experienced a break up or loss of someone they love. Kristan Higgins deftly balances the more sorrowful elements of the plot with wry humor, witty banter and laugh out loud scenes. Fans of contemporary women’s fiction are going to laugh, cry and ultimately rejoice as Ainsley and Kate forge a close bond while helping one another recover from their personal tragedies. A poignant, yet heartwarming novel that will touch reader’s hearts and linger in their minds long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, HQN Books, Kristan Higgins, On Second Thought, Rated A, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: Karolina’s Twins by Ronald H. Balson

Title: Karolina’s Twins by Ronald H. Balson
Liam and Catherine Series Book Three
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (WWII), Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

She made a promise in desperation
Now it’s time to keep it

Lena Woodward, elegant and poised, has lived a comfortable life among Chicago Society since she immigrated to the US and began a new life at the end of World War II. But now something has resurfaced that Lena cannot ignore: an unfulfilled promise she made long ago that can no longer stay buried.

Driven to renew the quest that still keeps her awake at night, Lena enlists the help of lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart. Behind Lena’s stoic facade are memories that will no longer be contained. She begins to recount a tale, harkening back to her harrowing past in Nazi-occupied Poland, of the bond she shared with her childhood friend Karolina. Karolina was vivacious and beautiful, athletic and charismatic, and Lena has cherished the memory of their friendship her whole life. But there is something about the story that is unfinished, questions that must be answered about what is true and what is not, and what Lena is willing to risk to uncover the past. Has the real story been hidden these many years? And if so, why?

Two girls, coming of age in a dangerous time, bearers of secrets that only they could share.

Just when you think there could not be anything new to ferret out from World War II comes Karolina’s Twins, a spellbinding new novel by the bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers and Saving Sophie. In this richly woven tale of love, survival and resilience during some of the darkest hours, the unbreakable bond between girlhood friends will have consequences into the future and beyond.

Review:

Based on real life events, Karolina’s Twins by Ronald H. Balson is a riveting novel about a Holocaust survivor’s search for her best friend’s twin daughters more than 70 years later.  Although this is the third book featuring lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart, it can be read as a standalone.

At 89 years of age, Lena Woodward might be feeling the physical effects of her advanced years but her mind is still sharp as a tack.  Realizing she is running out of time to fulfill a long ago promise, she contacts Liam and Catherine to help her locate her childhood friend Karolina Neuman’s twin daughters whom she has not seen since they were just a few months old.  Lena and Karolina are childhood friends whose lives were torn apart when the Nazis invaded their hometown in Poland.

Forced to work as seamstresses in a coat factory, the young women manage, with the help of Karolina’s German lover, to survive extreme conditions.  Not long after Karolina gives birth to twin daughters, the coat factory shuts down and the women are sent to Gross-Rosen concentration camp where they are forced to work as slave labor. Knowing the babies’ fate if they arrive at the camp, Lena and Karolina take drastic measures that will hopefully save the girls from a horrific fate.  After surviving Auschwitz, Lena marries and moves to the United State but the fate of Karolina’s twins weighs heavily on her mind.

Needing to know whether or not the girls survived, Lena hopes Liam and Catherine can trace the girls’ whereabouts. However, her son Arthur is convinced she is suffering from dementia and his efforts to have her declared incompetent could interfere with their efforts.  After so many years have passed and hampered by the impending court case, will Liam and Catherine uncover the truth about what happened to Karolina’s twins?

Lena’s life in Poland was rather idyllic in the years before the Nazi occupation.  Her parents are well-respected shop owners in the Jewish community where they live a rather comfortable life.  Her friendship with Karolina begins while they are attending public school together and although Lena eventually transfers to a private school, they remain close friends.

As the Nazis begin rising to power, Lena’s father starts making arrangements for the family to immigrate from Poland, but the Germans invade Poland before they are able to leave.  Stripped of their business and forced to adhere to the strict rules all Jews must follow, Lena’s father is a member of the Polish resistance.  After he and the rest of the family are selected for “relocation”, Lena, now a teenager, remains in hiding until their home is taken over by Germans and she begins searching for her missing family.

Finding shelter in the ghetto, she works in the coat factory where she is reunited with Karolina.  Conditions are almost unbearable as the young women live without running water, electricity and heat as they work long hours in the factory.  Food is strictly rationed and as winter descends, the harsh weather and  poor nutrition take a horrific toll on the people living in the ghetto.

In the midst of this unimaginable horror, the birth of Karolina’s twins is an unexpected bright spot but as the war continues, the Nazis put their plans in motion to exterminate the Jews.  More and more Jews are sent to concentration camps where children, the elderly and the infirm are separated and sent to their deaths.  Those who are healthy are selected to work as slave labor but their lives are often cut short as malnutrition, harsh living conditions and illness take their toll.  Knowing full well what will happen to the babies, the women make a split second decision to try to save them from certain death but this choice haunts Lena for the most of her life.

Interspersed with Lena’s account of her wartime experiences is Arthur’s effort to have her declared incompetent.  He is quite odious and it is difficult to ascertain his motives for  the case.  Is Arthur genuinely concerned for his mother’s health?  Or are his reasons financially motivated due to his mother’s wealth?  His heavy-handed tactics and sneering conversations certainly cloud the issue and leave everyone wondering what he hopes to accomplish with his actions.

Although some of the dialogue is a little awkward and the court case is a little overly dramatic (and unnecessary), Karolina’s Twins is an absolutely compelling novel about Lena’s experiences as a Jewish woman living in Nazi occupied Poland.  Ronald H. Balson deftly blends fact with fiction and brings this fictionalized account of actual events vibrantly to life.  This  poignant story is a gripping and educational read that I highly recommend.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Historical, Karolina's Twins, Rated A, Review, Ronald H Balson, St Martin's Griffin

Review: Results May Vary by Bethany Chase

Title: Results May Vary by Bethany Chase
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

From Bethany Chase—whom bestselling author Emily Giffin calls “a great new voice in fiction”—comes a wise and delightfully relatable novel about a woman’s journey to rebuild her life, and her heart, after a stunning betrayal.

Can you ever really know the person you love?

She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, art curator Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him.

Compassionate and uplifting, Results May Vary is a bittersweet celebration of the heart’s ability to turn unexpected troubles into extraordinary strength.

Review:

Heartwarming with a wonderful cast of vibrant characters, Results May Vary by Bethany Chase is a beautiful journey of self discovery and healing for lead protagonist Caroline Hammond.

Caroline and Adam have been together for sixteen years and their ten year marriage is seemingly perfect.  Completely devoted to one another, they are courteous and thoughtful to each other and they seem to know each inside and out.  When Caroline discovers that Adam is having an affair with photographer Patrick Timothy, she is beyond stunned.  Needing time to process this inexplicable information, Caroline retreats to their home in the Berkshires where her best friend Jonathan and her sister Ruby provide her the support she needs to decide what to do next.  Wavering back and forth on whether or not she wants to save her marriage, Caroline tries to make sense of who she is without Adam by her side.

Caroline is shocked, hurt, angry and betrayed after she learns about Adam’s affair.  Completely blindsided by the fact her husband is attracted to men, she cannot help but wonder how well she really knows him.  Of course the biggest question is whether or not their marriage can be saved, and her initial reaction is absolutely not.  Once some of the shock and pain subside, Caroline realizes she loves Adam enough to give him a second chance, but she learns he has been keeping another secret from her.  This discovery stops their tenuous reconciliation in its tracks since Caroline knows she will never be able to trust him again.

Although Caroline knows her marriage is truly over, she misses being part of a couple and while he hurt her deeply, she continues to miss Adam.  She is quite reflective as she looks back on her life with Adam to see if there were hints or clues about him she might have missed  or overlooked.  She wants to understand why he broke their wedding vows, but Adam is frustratingly unable to provide her with an explanation.   As time passes, Caroline begins to recognize the cracks in foundation of their relationship and she views Adam in a much more realistic light.

The secondary cast of characters is well-developed and for the most part, quite appealing.  Caroline’s sister Ruby is fun-loving and vivacious.  Her enthusiasm and zest for life are infectious and she easily convinces Caroline to step of her comfort zone.  She has some pretty insightful observations about Adam that help Caroline understand her soon to be ex-husband much better.  Caroline’s best guy pal Jonathan is larger than life and a straight shooter who tells it like it is.  Caroline’s co-worker Neil Crenshaw is also absolutely wonderful and he is instrumental in helping her move forward.  Despite the fact that Adam  cheated on Caroline, he is a surprisingly sympathetic character.  He is not completely honest with her until the novel’s conclusion and once they have a sincere heart to heart, Caroline is not only able to understand why he was unfaithful, but she is able to begin working on forgiving him.

Results May Vary by Bethany Chase is a captivating novel that is emotional yet gratifying.  Although Caroline’s husband cheated on her with a man, her reactions are universal as she deals with feelings of inadequacy as she tries to make sense of this shocking discovery.  The added burden of trying to understand his attraction to a man adds another layer to the complex and fascinating storyline. All in all, it is an engaging and insightful novel that I highly recommend to  readers of contemporary women’s fiction.

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Filed under Ballantine Books, Bethany Chase, Contemporary, Rated A, Results May Vary, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: The Mother by Yvvette Edwards

Title: The Mother by Yvvette Edwards
Publisher: Amistad
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

The author of the critically acclaimed A Cupboard Full of Coats makes her hardcover debut with a provocative and timely novel about an emotionally devastated mother’s struggle to understand her teenage son’s death, and her search for meaning and hope in the wake of incomprehensible loss.

The unimaginable has happened to Marcia Williams. Her bright and beautiful sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, has been brutally murdered. Consumed by grief and rage, she must bridle her dark feelings and endure something no mother should ever have to experience: she must go to court for the trial of the killer—another teenage boy—accused of taking her son’s life.

How could her son be dead? Ryan should have been safe—he wasn’t the kind of boy to find himself on the wrong end of a knife carried by a dangerous young man like Tyson Manley. But as the trial proceeds, Marcia finds her beliefs and assumptions challenged as she learns more about Ryan’s death and Tyson’s life, including his dysfunctional family. She also discovers troubling truths about her own. As the strain of Ryan’s death tests their marriage, Lloydie, her husband, pulls farther away, hiding behind a wall of secrets that masks his grief, while Marcia draws closer to her sister, who is becoming her prime confidant.

One person seems to hold the answers—and the hope—Marcia needs: Tyson’s scared young girlfriend, Sweetie. But as this anguished mother has learned, nothing in life is certain. Not anymore.

A beautiful, engrossing novel that illuminates some of the most important and troubling issues of our time, The Motheris a moving portrait of love, tragedy, and survival—and the aftershocks from a momentary act of cruel violence that transforms the lives of everyone it touches.

Review:

Deeply moving, The Mother by Yvvette Edwards is an emotionally compelling novel of healing.

Seven months following her sixteen year old son Ryan’s murder, Marcia Williams remains grief stricken and desperately trying understand why his accused killer Tyson Manley took Ryan’s life.  With the murder trial now underway, Marcia attends the proceedings hoping to get answers to the questions that haunt her.  As evidence is presented to the court, she is surprised by her sometimes compassionate response as she learns about Tyson’s dysfunctional home life. Marcia is also forced to admit that she might have misjudged Sweetie Nelson, the young woman whom Ryan was involved with in the weeks preceeding his death. With her marriage crumbling under the weight of anger and unresolved grief, Marcia cannot help but lash out at her husband Lloydie as he continues to withdraw from her as he struggles to cope with his loss on his own.

It is impossible not feel sympathy for Marcia as she tries to make sense of a senseless act of violence.  Her hopelessness, her desperate need for answers and her desire to assign blame are palpable as she goes through her day to day life, locked in mourning.  Despite her understanding that LLoydie is doing the best he can, Marcia cannot help but feel angry and resentful over his desertion just when she needs his support the most.  While completely aware how deeply she is hurting him by her furious outbursts, Marcia is unable to keep her feelings to herself as the strain of the trial weighs heavily on her.  Trying, yet failing, to bridge the ever widening gap between them, Marcia despairs her marriage will survive the unbearable loss of their son.

Lloydie is a quiet man who shows his love through his actions and he withdraws not only from Marcia, but life in general, after Ryan’s murder.  While he cannot give his wife the emotional support she craves, he quietly goes about taking care of her the only way he knows how.  In the face of her unrelenting anger, Lloydie pulls deeper into himself and begins changing his routine in order to avoid her.  Unable to accept the tentative olive branch she extends to him, their marriage continues to deteriorate and it is soon teetering on the brink of collapse.

The one person who could possibly provide some answers to Marcia’s questions is the one person she avoids at all costs: Sweetie.  Marcia made no effort to hide her disapproval of the young woman who captured Ryan’s heart and she blames Sweetie for indirectly putting him in the path of a killer.  Unable to avoid meeting with Sweetie, Marcia learns shocking information that she encourages Sweetie to reveal.  Once Sweetie takes the stand during Tyson’s trial, a stunning revelation gives Marcia unexpected hope and a new purpose that will honor Ryan memory.

The Mother by Yvvette Edwards is a raw, gritty novel that is heartbreaking, yet ultimately, uplifting.  This powerful story will move readers to tears as Marcia tries to come to terms with an unbearable loss that no parent should ever have to experience. Although not all of the loose ends are completely wrapped up by the novel’s conclusion, the ending is hopeful as Marcia, Lloydie and Sweetie find an unexpected bit of optimism that they can and will eventually move past this tragedy.

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Filed under Amistad, Contemporary, Rated A, Review, The Mother, Women's Fiction, Yvvette Edwards

Review: The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer

Title: The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer
Banister Falls Series Book Two
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 317 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Planning and Post-It notes are the epitome of Evie’s life. But when she meets Jack, her life gets more than a little complicated.

Thirteen years ago, Evie’s firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone. Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie’s heart. But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life is about to make.Tattooed, rough-around-the-edges Jack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls. Where Evie’s life is stream-lined, Jack’s approach to living is moment-by-moment. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack’s world—a world that isn’t as safe or predictable as the one she’s worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.

Jack doesn’t make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something. Something she hasn’t felt since Max passed away—or, maybe ever. Because even though Jack isn’t anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

Review:

The Hearts We Mend is the second heartfelt installment in Kathryn Springer’s delightful Banister Falls series. It is another emotional novel of healing and while it can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend the entire series.

Evie Bennett is putting the finishing touches on her son Cody’s upcoming wedding when she is dismayed to discover the church’s regular custodian has been called away on a family emergency.  She is even more distraught when she realizes his temporary replacement, Jack Vale, is the man she and her friend Gin previously met under rather inauspicious circumstances while delivering groceries to someone in need. A newcomer to town, Jack is a bit of an enigma and Evie is a little nervous around the handsome but rough around the edges handyman. There is much more to Jack than meets the eye and the pair form an unlikely friendship. Evie and Jack are surprised to discover their feelings run deeper than friendship but are either of them ready for a romantic entanglement?

Evie is definitely at a crossroads in her life. Long widowed, the main focus of her life has been her son and now that Cody is moving on to the next stage of his life, she is feeling a little lost and lonely. She is intrigued by Jack but he so different from anyone she knows, she is uncertain what, if any, place he has in her life. Quickly realizing she might have misjudged him, Evie is surprised to discover he has a strong faith and a very open and giving heart. She soon realizes she is attracted to Jack and she is willing to explore the possibility of a future with him.

Jack has put his wild days long behind him and his strong faith guides him as he helps others in need. He has collected a rather motley assortment of friends and he opens both his home and his heart to them (and anyone else in need). He is only planning on staying in town temporarily while he helps his troubled brother Travis and sister-in-law Cheryl get back on their feet. He is hoping that Travis is finally going to keep a job and maintain his sobriety but sadly, this is not the case. After the two end up in trouble, Jack becomes temporary guardian for his young niece Lily and his life becomes further entwined with Evie’s when her daughter-in-law becomes Lily’s caregiver.

One of the most enjoyable aspect of reading an novel by Kathryn Springer is her characters and their relationship with God. Her characters are ordinary everyday people with messy lives. They make mistakes. They make questionable decisions. Their families are imperfect. And yet, they still find love, acceptance and forgiveness through God’s love. Their faith might sometimes falter, but they have confidence that God will guide them to the right path. Sometimes that path is not what they expected, but they trust that everything will work out in the end. In The Hearts We Mend, both Evie and Jack discover that God’s plan is definitely not what they expected, but rather, what they need. Their road to happily ever after is not always smooth, but it is a healing journey that makes them stronger as a couple and as Christians.

Like the previous installment in the Banister Falls series, The Hearts We Mend touches on some very tough, true to life subject matter. Kathryn Springer handles these topics with sensitivity and she never downplays the difficulties associated with these issues. The storyline has depth and the faith aspect of the novel is subtle and enriches the overall plot. The characters are complex and richly developed with realistic strengths and weakness that are easy for readers to relate to. An absolutely marvelous addition to the Banister Falls series that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a sweet romance with a realistic storyline.

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Filed under Banister Falls Series, Christian, Kathryn Springer, Rated A, Review, Romance, Zondervan