Review: Never reading anything by Beth Wiseman meant that upon opening this novel, there were no expectations. Regardless of a slow beginning, this novel shaped up to be a splendid story full of idiosyncrasies and romanticism that many novelists cannot capture to the page. Looking up Beth’s previous work reveals this story is uncharacteristic to her usual writing, meaning this is a rare departure for her as she tells a contemporary romance about a woman named Brooke Holloway, who is raising her two children after losing her husband to a tragic accident while busily operating her hardware store. Into their small Texas town comes Owen, a man smarting from his own past involving a painful divorce and in an effort to spite his wife, he purchases her dream house, working to restore it to its former glory. When these two cross paths – amidst the most unusual circumstances, their hearts are reawakened and they discover the healing powers of letting go… and forgiveness.
If done well, I’m a sucker for stories that “blend” families. This book isn’t as seeped in that premise as some because its leading man isn’t emotionally navigating single fatherhood. What sets apart this work of fiction is its storytelling proficiency and by extension, its fabulous characteristics – the ability to entertain is parallel to none and its characters unforgettable. Woven into the heart of the story are pretty, thought-provoking idiosyncrasies that make everything book-ending them “pop” with personality. I loved Owen. I loved Brooke. I loved the silly antics. I loved the poignant plots carefully embedded in the narrative. All these things are important to any good – or entertaining novel, and this sweet piece of quirky fiction has them all.
Where some readers could be bothered by Owen’s mindset towards his wife, I felt that the healing process and the pacing was captured beautifully. He arrives embittered and wanting to inflict pain only to – before he or Brooke realize, be “saved” from his own sense of self-justice and pity through his friendship with Brooke and her children. Navigating a would-be or even, any kind of relationship between these two protagonists is perhaps something “tired” because of the circumstances, but it’s in the “awkward” moments this story is allowed to be at its best – the one scene in particular involves an evening between Brooke and Owen, and her disastrous attempts at making the night be more than what they agreed to ask of the other. Somehow the thought process behind this and the scene itself worked because it was genuinely told. These are what brings the story full circle and gives it a meaningful bent.
Honestly, I could have done without one or two of the minor subplots, but that isn’t enough of a complainant or detractor for me to chatter about. Between one sullen teenager, a story about a woman who isn’t right in the head (yep, this one made me giggle), a bushel of hidden treasure and a nomad uncle, this is a story built from love.
Synopsis: Brooke has only loved one man. Owen’s heart is filled with bitterness. Can a mysterious house bring them together for a second chance at love?
In the small town of Smithville, Texas, Brooke Holloway is raising six-year-old Meghan and ten-year-old Spencer on her own two years after her husband’s death. Being a single-mom and running the family’s local hardware store keep her busy.
While Meghan longs for a daddy, Spencer has threatened to run away if Brooke even goes out on a date. But the last thing on Brooke’s mind is falling in love. When a stranger moves to town and buys a house with a mysterious past, Brooke can’t contain her curiosity. As she spends time with the new owner, she wonders if maybe God is giving her another chance at happiness.
Owen Saunders fled the big city to start over in a small, rural town famous for baking the world’s largest gingerbread man. Then he bought an old house to restore-for all the wrong reasons. If anything needs restoration, it is Owen’s heart in the aftermath of his failed marriage. With little hope and lost faith, Owen is tempted by happiness when he meets Brooke, but his heart remains sealed shut.
As they learn more about Owen’s house, one thing becomes obvious to both of them: God has put them together for a reason. – Goodreads
Coming next from Beth Wiseman, The Promise: Mallory’s search for happiness leads her to a faraway place. There she finds heartache, betrayal—and danger. Can the only man she’s ever loved rescue her before it’s too late?
Mallory Hammond is determined not to let her boyfriend, parents, or anyone else get in the way of her #1 goal—to save a life. She had that chance when she was a teenager, and the opportunity slipped away, leaving a void she’s desperate to fill. Then a new friend she met online offers her the chance she’s dreamed of. But she’ll have to leave behind everyone she loves to take it.
Tate Webber has loved Mallory for years. He understands that Mallory’s free spirit has to fly, and when he gives her the space she needs, he hopes that when she lands, the two of them will be in the same place and can marry at last.
In a bold move—and with lots of resistance from Tate and those closest to her—Mallory decides to travel across the world to fulfill her dream. Tate begs her not to go, but Mallory embarks on the dangerous journey to Pakistan anyway, only to discover how swiftly and easily promises can be broken. Her new friend isn’t who he says he is. And Mallory can only pray she’ll make it out alive.
Inspired by actual events, this riveting story will take you on a wild journey and have you asking yourself: How far would I go for love? – September 2014
Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for INSPYs consideration.