Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

There has been a lot of buzz about this book, so I was very curious to read it.

Let's begin with the summary:

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance, takes a leave of absence from her job as a social worker, and the two of them set off. 

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man her grandmother has hired to renovate the house. From the first moment she meets Matt, Kate can't help her attraction to him--he's got a combination of good looks and charisma that draw and tug at her. But she knows there's zero chance of a romance between them. Matt's in love with his dead wife, and even if he weren't, Kate realizes that she's way too ordinary for him. For Matt Jarreau is no ordinary guy. Kate discovers that he was once a great NHL hockey player who left the sport when his wife--an honest-to-goodness former Miss America--was diagnosed with brain cancer. Matt's been hiding from people, from God, and from his past ever since.

Yet Kate is absolutely determined to befriend him, to try to reach him, to help him in some small way. No, Kate's not looking for love. She knows better than that by now. But when the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

And now, my review:

This review challenged me because on the one hand, this was one of my favorite books this year. On the other, the publisher and author included offensive language that jarred me out of the story on a few occasions. 

I’d heard, ahead of reading the novel, that there were specific words included. So I was curious about why and in what context. How far would they go? If they allowed bad language, would they include sexual situations? Is this publisher breaking into another market now? As an avid reader of Christian fiction, I’ve come to trust I won’t run into degrading slang terms and swear words, etc. Most of the time character realism is expressed through implication. Honestly, after that first instance in the book, I debated reading on. The choice to include that language made me question my previous trust of this publisher, as well as questioning what direction the story would go. But if you can ignore/overlook the few instances of offensive language, you’ll be rewarded with a very good story by a fresh voice in Christian romance. 

The hero’s brooding, wounded approach to life immediately had my interest and sympathy. Maybe we would see behind the scenes. Gain understanding. I watched the heroine’s interactions with him and wondered how she’d get anywhere with her quirky personality and determination to break through his walls. Oh, that was fun to watch.

I liked the secondary characters, how the author used some of them as a mirror of Matt’s and Kate’s relationship. 

Their fiery attraction kept me turning pages. The remodeling of the old house was a good metaphor for Matt’s revamped life, and though we’ve seen this setup before, it worked as a setting and vehicle for forcing our characters together. 

As I mentioned, I liked the author’s fresh voice. I believe the story would have been just as strong without the jarring language choices. Characters can be realistic without being crass. This book would have gained a lot of buzz based on the well-done story alone. 

(print) (ebook)

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