book, Book Review

From the Start, by Melissa Tagg

About the Book:
Author: Melissa Tagg
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Author Influencer Copy Provided
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Blogger ǀ Goodreads ǀ Novel Crossing
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Barnes & Noble ǀ Bethany House ǀ Goodreads
Series: Walker Family, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review: Though she’s always had a fantastic sense of humor that rolled with her unique style (anyone who reads Melissa’s blog will be able to pull out moments that indicate her fab signature), I don’t know if her books have risen to the level her fourth full-length novel does. Her author note in the back may acknowledge that this was the hardest book she’s yet written, but let me tell you, the results are rewarding. The story is about Kate Walker, a TV script writer who seems to be running out of work. Following her career high as an Emmy-winning writer, she has since declined. Unsuccessful at selling much of anything beyond the odd romance to a TV network, she is lacking in knowing her next step. Then her home town of Maple Valley, Iowa has a tornado rip through and it sends Kate rushing from Chicago to her family’s aid. While there she meets her brother’s best friend, Colton Greene. A former NFL player who is watching his own career slip away, Colton didn’t plan on visiting Maple Valley with Logan, but he is just the same. While there, he’s thrust into helping his hosts recover from the tornado, getting pressure to write a book and in-between it all, cherishing the time he spends with Kate Walker.

Humor still firmly in place, I think what I liked best and what works so very well in this novel’s pages was its capacity to be more than a delightful romantic-comedy. Both of its main characters have burdens in their past that are precluding them from emotional health and in some ways prevents them from fully and richly living their lives to the fullest. If there is one teeny, tiny complaint to cite, it’s in how Colton finds himself (giving up a contract, leaving behind interviews), which took some unexpected twists and played out longer than I anticipated. I felt like this sort of distanced some of Kate and his scenes together. That being said, I can honestly say, this in NO way took away the enjoyment of the book. There is a lot of unique backstory and complexity to these characters, which makes for the kind of read we wish all of our books contained. Where Colton doesn’t want to remember his old wounds, Kate too closes herself off from really letting go and embracing what is within her grasp. Colton and Kate both have emotional scars in their past and both are far more interesting because of that.

Adding more structure to the story is Kate’s family. I love a good close-knit family bond, and the Walker’s are no exception to that. They are fun-loving, but best of all they look out for each other, while doing so with humor and a passion for life. Knowing the sorrow they have in their past means they appreciate the gift of life – not being willing to waste precious time together, which is special. There is much that could be praised about this book. If all that weren’t enough to excite you to try Melissa’s novels, let me just say, the interactions between Kate and Colton are priceless! I suspect many of the influences are from the oldie era of Hollywood films given Melissa’s partiality to said genre, and they all work so well in these pages. From Colton and Kate’s first meeting (can we say, cutest meet-cute ever) to Kate’s dash to hide being caught in an embarrassing situation, there is a lot to smile at. Melissa’s writing is fresh, sharp, engaging and multifaceted in its range of emotions. From the Start will make you laugh, root for its characters and maybe even shed a tear or two. Plus, the ending is movie-worthy adorable.

Want to know more about this family? Meet this delightful family and snag the free novella Three Little Words where we meet Walker cousin Seth as he romances his love, Ava through letters.

Three Little Words: Amazon ǀ Goodreads ǀ Review

From the Start Synopsis: Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays…until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he’s lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he’s never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it’s like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn’t part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that’s ever happened to them? – Goodreads

Coming Next from Melissa Tagg: Like Never Before (Walker Family, book 2), releasing in 2016

Sincere thanks to author Melissa Tagg for providing an influencer copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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