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My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

I am the sort of reader who usually is willing to try a book even if it has an unfamiliar name emblazed across the cover. That was my motivation in taking a keen interest in this novel – I saw the cute cover (that usually is what draws your eye), read the synopsis, and thought, “it sounds good.” Debut author Becky Wade did indeed create a sweet, engaging romance that is not just a romance but also an affectionate piece of writing that blends a fairy-tale (of sorts – not in the “traditional” sense) with realism perfectly. In my humble opinion, there is a fine line in crafting that balance but it seems to be something that I crave in authors – and Wade captures it skillfully. It tells the story of the thirty-something Kate who is burned out with her job as a social worker. While helping her grandmother renovate her ancestral home, Kate meets the broken-hearted Matt – a former hockey celebrity. Naturally sparks fly between the pair.

In more depth, here are the things I loved, and those I wish had been handled differently.

THE PROS:

  • The characters; I just loved Wade’s leading couple. By definition, they are “ordinary,” and by that, I mean they are “real.” Both are likable but flawed human beings who we could easily imagine being friends with. Matt’s broken past might remind readers of a favorite literary man. His good looks and brooding manners aren’t all that make us fall in love with him (but it isn’t a hindrance, either *wink*), his protectiveness and eventual redemption are what makes him an admirable, good man. Kate likewise isn’t hard to like. She is quirky but loveable – and is a woman we long to see take her happy ending.
  • Wade is definitely a “fresh” voice in the Christian fiction scene, and overall, I loved her style. The prologue and epilogue were unique to the books I’ve read previously and it was refreshing way to start a novel while creating a different perspective than the typical he/she switch off of the character’s mindset.
  • The pacing is fabulous. I loved what Wade did within these pages – and by that, the characters. For once, I was delighted that an author took care with the budding romance. Although Kate is immediately attracted to Matt, there is no “love at first sight,” instead the characters grow individually and together as friends – nothing more. Their friendship was solid long before they saw themselves as romantic counterparts.
  • The fact that nothing resembling even a hint of a “mystery” enters this novel’s pages was a fabulous “change.” A lot of books that aren’t even categorized as “suspense” usually draw from something that has potential to ruin the happy-ever-after in the last push to the end. This book did not. I am a fan of a good thriller but in novels like this, it rarely works really well.

THE CONS:

  • Most of the book is witty and I love the humor but… periodically – and for lack of a better word, it was bordering on the edge of crude. It isn’t to the point of making the reader drop their jaw at what you are reading in a Christian novel (not by a long shot) but it was… awkward.
  • Kate’s bemoaning of her love life. It is more in the opening and nearer the end when prospects look grim but I grew a bit tired of the moping she did and attitude she had about not being married or in a serious relationship. Perhaps it is “realistic” and girls do ponder it to that extent but I found it… tiresome. Fortunately, it doesn’t linger long.

When it comes right down to it, cons or not, I was undeniably charmed by this novel; it is a tender, romantic, amusing boy-meets-girl scenario that is, in my humble opinion, all-around one of the best I’ve read in a while – both in its sub-genre and by a debut author. But, I couldn’t help but feel some of the books flaws were unmistakably “awkward.”Few as they may be, the unpleasant bits of the novel made me almost disappointed in the writing because I saw a lot of good and potential in Wade’s writing. The moments that weren’t uplifting or seemed unpleasant to a Christian novel were few and for that, I cannot criticize too much. I appreciated what the author did with the characters, how she “eased” them into a relationship as opposed to defaulting to that “one moment” in which characters, suddenly, inexplicably realize they are (surprise!) actually in love – it has been forever since I felt so happy with a romantic-comedy set in novel form that I could be so enthusiastically pleased with. The hints of realism and probable conversations were only an additional plus that I appreciated having been able to applaud, unlike a series by Karen Kingsbury I recently read, this book had an excellent handle on it. Undeniably, I was happy with the decision to read this sweet-natured paperback, and will be anxiously awaiting any additional titles by Becky Wade: a 4-out-of-5-star read!

*Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for reviewing purposes.

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