The Love Letter

The Love LetterThe Love Letter by Rachel Hauck
Published by Thomas Nelson on June 12th 2018
Pages: 352
ISBN: 0785216685
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three-stars

Long lost love and redemption

The Love Letter is told in alternating timelines.

In the past:

Ester and Hamilton are childhood friends who fell in love. Their future appeared bright except for the fact that the Revolutionary War was being waged and people were asked to pick sides. Ester’s father is a loyalist and will not hear of his daughter being in a relationship with Hamilton. Ester is put in the position of defying her father and choosing Hamilton or losing Hamilton to make her father happy.

In the present:

Chloe is an actress who has been typecast as dying in every moving in which she stars. When she is given the script for a historical love story, she knows she is meant to play Ester Kingsley. Jesse is the screenwriter who wrote the movie. He has been in a rut but was inspired by a one-page letter written by his colonial ancestor.

I will admit, that I requested this book for two reasons – 1. The cover and 2. It was classified as a romance. I like to throw in a romance once is a while to break up all the psychological thrillers I love to read. An added plus was that there is a historical romance involved which made the book even more enticing! What I did not realize was that this was Christian Romance. Which I have no problem with but goes to show that I did not read the entire description. So, since I mentioned it is Christian Romance, I will say that this book does not feel preachy or overly religious. I don’t mind reading books about people of faith regardless of what their faith might be. If it works in the story, then I am fine with it.

Typically, with alternating time lines/story lines I tend to like one more than the other. That was the case here. I enjoyed the past/historical part of the book the most. I enjoyed reading those sections. Perhaps because these characters feel as if they have more obstacles, there is a war, her family is on one side of the war, his on the other. I enjoyed their story and although things did not end as I thought they would, I realize the story ended how it should have ended. I had a harder time connecting with the present-day story set in Hollywood. For whatever reason, I was not as invested in that story-line. Of course, there is a connection between the past and the present. The one-page letter but there is another connection as well. It is not a big stretch but works her nevertheless.

Overall, an enjoyable read but not one that will stay with me. I doubt I will be thinking about this book in months to come. This is a perfect case of it is me and not the book. Many are loving this book and I can see why. I think this book is perfect for those who love a lighter romance book. Had this book just been set in the past, I most likely would have enjoyed it more. I also think fans of Christian Romance will enjoy this book.

Thank you to Thomas Mercer Fiction and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

three-stars

Where Hope Begins

Where Hope BeginsWhere Hope Begins by Catherine West
Published by Thomas Nelson on May 22nd 2018
Pages: 368
ISBN: 0785217436
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four-stars
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” – Robert Frost

At the beginning of this book Savannah Barrington is reeling. Her husband of twenty-one years has left her for another woman. Learning of his affair and betrayal has turned her world upside down. Savannah decides she needs a change of scenery. She has a daughter in college and a son away at boarding school. There are too many memories tied up in the house she shared with her husband, so she decides to seek solace in her parent’s lake house in the Berkshires. There she meets her neighbors and begins to live her life again. She has weekly tea with Clarice, the woman from next door while befriending the woman’s nephew Brock and his daughter, Maysie. Savannah is attempting to make peace with the fact that her marriage is over, her husband has moved on and she learns it is time for he to do the same. Her entire family has suffered a HUGE loss in their life and things have been strained for a long time. As Savannah attempts to close one door of her life she gains insight, and learns there is always hope, there is room for forgiveness and that starting over is not always a bad thing. While working in the greenhouse and getting to know her neighbors, Savannah learns that life does go on, beauty can spring forth from something bad, and that she is worthy of loving and being loved.

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” -Virginia Woolf

This book deals with a lot of heavy issues: loss of a child, adultery, suicide, trust, forgiveness, hope, family, mental health, guilt, betrayal, health issues and faith. The characters are coping with a lot of issues in this book and I appreciated how real their thoughts and actions felt. I thought the Author handled all the issues respectfully. She showed how loss can affect all members of a family, how the breakdown in communication can affect everyone, and how guilt can be all encompassing. The Author showed the family’s faith in their religion. For those that are not religious, do not let this hold you back. This book is not “preachy” but does a beautiful job of showing how the characters had faith, questioned their faith and relied upon their faith in good times and bad.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” -Luke 6:37

The book will cause most to wonder “what would I do in that situation?” and “could I forgive? “The characters in this book are pondering the same questions with a few more thrown in as well. The characters in this book go through many emotions and I felt as if I was along with them as they coped with all the things life threw at them in this book. The characters are like-able and their reactions all felt believable and real. There are five stages of grief and we see the characters go through various stages as they cope and go on with their lives.

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just how up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” Anne Lamott

This well-written book begins with heartbreak and ends with hope. I really enjoyed not only the story but the message of this book. It was a quiet page turner that had me guessing as to what Savannah would decide to do. This one will pull at the heartstrings and have you feeling the emotions of the characters and I felt for their situation, their loss and their path moving forward.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson-Fiction and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

four-stars

The Hideaway

The HideawayThe Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton
Published by Thomas Nelson on April 11th 2017
Pages: 352
ISBN: 0718084225
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four-stars

This is a beautifully written debut novel (hard to believe it is a debut novel) which pulls at the heartstrings.

When Sara is informed that her grandmother “Mags” has passed away she returns home to Sweet Bay, Alabama to “The Hideaway” her grandmother’s B&B where Sara spent her childhood. Sara is there for a reading of her grandmother’s will. She hopes to stay a couple of days and return to her life and store in New Orleans. But when the will is read, Sara learns that her grandmother has left the Hideaway to her. It makes sense, she is the last remaining relative. Her grandmother asks that she renovate the B&B however she likes and wants Sara to reside there during the renovations.

While there, Sara learns that there was more to her eccentric grandmother than she ever knew. You think you know someone right? Her grandmother raised her after her parent’s death. Sara thought she knew everything there was to know about Mags. She remembers Mags as always being old. But what she learns when she finds an old key under a bench, is that her grandmother was a woman with secrets, with passion and a woman who once had to make a very difficult choice.

Through the course of the book, the reader also gets to see Mags backstory. We get to see a glimpse into her life, her thoughts, her love, her pains and her heart breaking decision. Mags was my favorite character. She did what she wanted and stood up for herself. She allowed her staff to live at the Hideaway and they all became like family.

Both women in this book are likable and endearing. This is a story about family, lost love, found love, a home with a history, and choices. It is well written and endearing. This is the perfect book to read on a cozy day. It’s neither too heavy nor too light. I enjoyed the characters and the story. Overall, a heartwarming (and at a time heart-breaking) story about love, loss, choices, secrets, family, friends, and what it means to find your home!

four-stars

Steal Away Home

Steal Away HomeSteal Away Home by Billy Coffey
Published by Thomas Nelson on January 2nd 2018
Pages: 400
ISBN: 0718084446
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two-stars

Unfortunately, not all books are for everyone. One person may love a book while another may read the same book and feel that book is not for them. That was the case with this book. I really wanted to like it. The premise sounded interesting:

“Owen Cross grew up with two loves: one a game, the other a girl. One of his loves ruined him. Now he’s counting on the other to save him.”

Owen loved Micky from the moment he saw her. They were kids from the opposite side of the track. He was from a middle-class family and she lived in shantytown. He is a baseball star destined for the big leagues and eventually he leaves Mickey for the dugouts and fame. Again, sounds great right? When you give up one dream, what happens to the other?

I found the writing to be all over the place and hard to keep track of at times. This really hindered my ability to enjoy the book. One thing that I liked was the Author’s unique way of having “chapters” but called them “innings” in keeping with the baseball theme.

I also think this book tried to be too many things all at once – a coming of age story, a love story, a baseball story, a story of faith/religion, a story of losses. I think if it would have just dedicated itself to one or two issues I would have enjoyed the book better.

There were several times I almost put this book down and did not finish. It was just hard to get into, keep my attention and at the end, I really felt meh about it. There were some beautifully written passages but not enough to win me over.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson-Fiction and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

two-stars