I love a series penned by Denise Hunter. But to have a copy of a stand alone, well now, that's even better. This is one of those unputdownables. I started reading last night and for the next couple hours read straight through. Outstanding! This is one of those "take away" reads. You know, those novels where you close the last page and it leaves you feeling as if you journeyed to Sweetbriar yourself.
The story-line is one that I could relate to. The writing is excellent. Hunter begins in present day, then takes us back about three years. This wasn't confusing at all. I enjoyed how she allowed the reader to know the complete story. When we are taken back sixteen years, the story hits home and we realize so much about the character, Josie.
Josephine and Noah fall in love quickly. Sometimes it happens that way. I mean, they knew right off the bat their hearts were connected. Noah is this stand up guy, full of faith, living with a kind character that sets him apart from others. Girls, he's one of the good guys. He's a hard worker and a dedicated man. Loyal to the end. He's the guy that loves big!
Josephine is that knock out girl that gets the attention from every guy in the room and every girl is a little ticked that they don't look like Josie. Even at a young age girls talked about Josie, gave her a reputation before she ever had one.
My heart ached for Josephine. Maybe because I could relate to her in many ways. She tries so hard to be accepted and loved. She's told at an early age that no one will ever want her, except for one thing. Trauma touches her life in her early teens and it's this impact that changes her life forever. She becomes the girl hated by girls and wanted by all the boys. They want to use her, but she comes to the conclusion she's going to get them before they get her.
This is where she has trouble when she meets Noah. He's such a good guy. He is respectful and full of love. This is something Josie has never had, never thought she would have, and thinks she never deserves.
This is one of those stories that grabs hold because you can either picture yourself as Josie, or you know someone close who resembles her life. She is battling such insecurities and trust issues. It's hard for her to believe every guy isn't the same. Even Noah's character. We see our sons and nephews as this stand up guy. The one who thinks there aren't any girls left who will see him for the really amazing guy he is. He's that good guy who gives all he has and then in the end is wounded deep.
These characters connect. Choices are made. Hearts are broken. But they get a second chance. It's during this second chance where these characters, having nothing to lose, come to reality really quickly, and they share like never before.
I like that there aren't a lot of characters in this novel. We meet a friend of Josie, a girl she is mentoring, and a few friends of Noah. That's it. The story is simply enough with Josie and Noah. Their story hits home. Bottom line? Unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace.
This is one of the most amazing romance novels I have read in a very long time. The characters are pure. Hunter allows us to see their hearts through her transparent writing. These two characters assume so much of each other, and it's those assumptions that get them off course. Anger is an obstacle for Noah. For Josie, she faces so much more. A past that wants to keep her in chains. But there's Noah, this guy who is a portrait of our Jesus, willing to give his all to love her unconditionally.
This is one of those great reads you share with your girlfriends, daughters, and mother. Another aspect I loved about this novel is the faith that is woven throughout. So often this is missing in today's Christian fiction, Hunter stays true in her writing to bring us stories that move the heart and connect us with the faith that we love.
This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.
Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has won the Holt Medallion Award, the Reader's Choice Award, the Carol Award, and the Foreward Book of the Year Award and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written pages, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are rapidly approaching an empty nest. DeniseHunterBooks.com