From the blurb:
“Put a bow around the woman you want for me, so I’ll know.”
Associate Pastor Dr. Mark Countryman is a recent transplant to North Fort Myers, Florida. Although it’s a paradise for some, Dr. Countryman has never felt more alone. As his fortieth birthday approaches, he reevaluates his past relationships and prays that God will guard his heart so it will not be broken again. If only there was a way he could be sure of God’s will.
“God says that a man is not meant to live alone always.”
As a child, Shelley watched her mother lose the battle against breast cancer. In her late teens, she survived a major hurricane with her father while living in Southwest Florida. Now twenty-five, Shelley Roberts is a furniture repairwoman who believes in being prepared for every contingency while enjoying life and seizing the moment.
A random encounter throws these two people into each other’s lives. Soon after, Shelley is assigned to do some work at Mark’s church. As they spend more time together, a relationship slowly begins to blossom, though whether they’re “friends” or “more” is something neither of them is certain of.
I enjoyed reading this book about a nearly 40 year old pastor who meets a young woman 14 years his junior and falls slowly but surely in love.
Mark Countryman is still nursing a somewhat broken heart but puts his faith in God, and prays that he's not meant to live his life alone. Still, he's prepared to do so if that is God's will. Shelley Roberts also believes but life has taught her to be prepared just the same, especially when it comes to natural disasters.
Both characters sounded realistic and truthful throughout the novel. While I may not have liked Mark's assertions to some extent, I could see him making them nonetheless.
The book has very little drama and is really centered around the two main protagonists and their budding romance. Both have a couple of hangups that need to be dealt with, and while I may have wanted to thump Mark over the head a couple of times, Shelley seemed to be able to handle him just fine.
I liked that the author defied romance conventions and gave Shelley a rather masculine job, while Mark was a little challenged when it came to tools. The dialogue as well as the inner musings are quite witty, and I loved the imagery of the Ladies Circle who are dubbed "meerkats" by Shelley. I could almost see the old biddies pop up left and right to keep an eye on their pastor and his girlfriend, gently prodding the romance along.
There is also a good chunk of amusing banter between Mark and Shelley, and I was happy to see that the heroine had been given plenty of backbone to not fold when her opinion didn't match that of the hero.
The romantic moments are kept within the confines of a Christian romance novel, meaning there are no explicit scenes and nothing much beyond kisses and embraces.
There is one moment of drama when Mark is being stupid, and they end up having a big fight. He's typical male in that situation, but soon enough figures out that he needs to grovel and apologize.
The whole plot development felt natural and realistic, and I was engaged through the book. Unfortunately, because I'm not much of a believer, I didn't fully connect with the characters' faith, which is a large part of their personalities. I did feel a bit more kinship with Shelley, who seems to have more of a practical, matter-of-fact nature and a couple of adorable quirks. I especially liked her explanation for her clumsiness. "Gravity wells" was such a cute description for stumbling.
The author also picks up on themes of family and friendship, as well as the need to compromise in any relationship.
Overall, this was a satisfying read. Much in the tone of a Karen Kingsbury novel, this book should appeal to those who love Christian romances.
I received a free ARC directly from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. I must also disclose that I know this author through another area of my online presence, which did not influence my opinion.
This book will be available on July 11, 2013.
Pre-order from: Barnes & Noble
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