Novels in which the hero or heroine are battling an addiction are not typically easy reads. Both My Unexpected Hope and Blue Columbine are childhood sweetheart/second chance romances that make your heart hurt in the best ways as the characters fight to break the bonds of addiction (alcohol in Blue Columbine and alcohol and illegal drugs in My Unexpected Hope). The Things We Knew includes a large cast, several of whom are addicted to alcohol and drugs. Gray Carlisle is the character to watch, as he struggles to get clean for the sake of himself and those he loves.
The Grace Crasher includes a minor character addicted to alcohol, but the heroine in this hilarious novel is addicted to love. (Say that out loud without singing the refrain of the Robert Palmer song. I dare you.) Hip and funny, yet serious when it needs to be, The Grace Crasher tackles the “less popular” addictive behaviors, such as those involving serial crushes and (in another minor character) overeating.
Chad, Laila et al are about as messed-up a bunch of friends as you’ll find, all raised (barely) in highly-dysfunctional homes. Having previously read My Hope Next Door, I questioned at the outset whether Tammy Gray could make me care about any of them. (Particularly Cooper, who’s come a long, long way in this book.)
Thanks be to God, I don’t have any first or secondhand knowledge of addictions like the ones portrayed in the book, but I do know something about the difficulty in overcoming habitual sins and creating new starts, which is the heart of My Unexpected Hope.
This is by no means a lighthearted romance though there are a few lighter moments and just enough tender memories between Chad and Laila to keep the story from becoming too dark.
By the last quarter of the book, I was highly invested in Chad’s battle for sobriety and his reunion with Laila, just as the author introduced enough twists to leave me frustrated when I had to step away from my Kindle and tend to my duties.
Well-written and compelling!
This book’s premise held my interest from the start, but I didn’t expect it to rocket to the top of my all-time favorites.
From the spot-on humor that targets Catholics and Evangelical Christians alike to the fully-developed characters and the beauty of capital-T Truth that keeps the whole mess of them afloat, Julia (say it with three syllables, if you please), Mark, and Dylan sucked me into their world and wouldn’t let me go until I finished The Grace Crasher in under 24 hours.
A hilarious, poignant story that sets the broken love among families, friends, lovers, and fellow believers against the backdrop of God’s unfailing, patient, perfect love.
The Grace Crasher left me with a smile on my face and in my heart.
Apparently, Catherine West heard the advice to give your characters secrets and took it to heart. Wow. Every person in this large and tangled cast has a secret or two – or more! And they are doozies!
Well-written, engaging, and suspenseful, this story of neighboring Nantucket families pulled me in right from the start. A real and raw tale with endless opportunity for grace and mercy with a heartwarming romance at its center.
The Things We Knew would make a great beach read, but I enjoyed it at home, imagining the majestic Atlantic coast and the beautiful home that was a backdrop for so many memories – good and bad.
Given the premise – childhood sweethearts whose reunion is derailed by his alcoholism – it’s no surprise this isn’t a light, bubbly romance. It’s difficult, and at times, I thought, overlong, but I suspect the repeated progress and setbacks ring true for overcoming any addiction.
Blue Columbine made my heart ache at times, but in the end it’s a touching story of love – tough love, tender love, patient love, and enduring love. And ultimately, redemption.