Monday, August 17, 2020

Love and a Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray

Love and a Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray

Let’s begin with the summary:

January Sanders grew up believing karma was more reliable than an imaginary higher power, but after suffering her worst heartbreak in twenty-nine years, she's open to just about anything, including taking a temporary position at her aunt's church. Keeping her lack of faith a secret, January is determined to use her photographic memory to help Grace Community's overworked staff, all while scraping herself off rock bottom.

What she doesn't count on is meeting the church's handsome and charming guitarist, who not only is a strong believer, but has also dedicated his life to Christian music. It's a match set for disaster, and yet January has no ability to stay away, even if it means pretending to have faith in a God she doesn't believe in.

Only this time, keeping secrets isn't as easy as she thought it would be. Especially when she's constantly running into her aunt's landscape architect, who seems to know everything about her past and present sins and makes no apologies about pushing her to deal with feelings she'd rather keep buried.

Torn between two worlds incapable of coexisting, can January find the healing that's eluded her or will her resistance to the truth ruin any chance of happiness?

And now, my review:

I loved this book! We have an atheist hired to work in a church and serve as a ministerial assistant. Ah, what could go wrong? We have a meddling aunt who wants to see her niece saved and healed up from her rejection issues. Who could blame her?

The story was the perfect mix of humor and insight. I highlighted a hundred places of either strong prose, LOL moments, or insightfulness, along with my notes for this review.

The heroine’s quirkiness captured my attention. She’s original and I enjoyed being in her head. We have first-person, oftentimes present-tense narrative. We learn about the other characters through rich storytelling, but we never leave January’s perspective.

At times the heroine’s relationship thoughts seemed juvenile, especially for a late twenty-something. She’s supposedly experienced in relationships, yet her infatuation and "daydreamy" mentality seemed a bit too young. That may have been a generational thing. Also, I read the ARC and this element may have been addressed in rewrites.

I loved the church setting and the musical moments. Years ago, I wrote an unpublished novel around music and worshiping God, and this story reminded me of that during some musical scenes. Watching the heroine discover God’s presence, His Spirit, was delightful. Yet we didn’t delve into a secular world too deeply. True to character, the heroine had thoughts about karma as well as her conviction God doesn’t exist, but we know she’s discovering truth and hope.

We see contrasts throughout, and yet the author doesn’t steep the story in red-or-green mentality. (some might call it “black or white” or “light vs darkness") We find layers and realism without harshness. I loved that balance. The heroine, for example, carries a heavy burden from a complicated past. While Cameron, the musician from church, is full of joy, lightness, and a whole lot of innocence.

The heroine is at a crossroads of faith, though she wouldn't describe it that way. She thinks she's trying to get  She’s also good at helping others, though she wouldn’t describe herself that way. I liked how she found other talents besides the quirky one she half despises.

Ah, then there’s that budding friendship with the landscape artist. The banter these two share in their unfiltered conversations is delicious. So well done. It was refreshing watching them be real with each other. His name is Dillon, and he’s my favorite character in the book. He’s honest, courageous, unyielding, as well as unafraid to speak his mind and require that of others. He delights in pushing January's buttons too. Since he works on the property, they keep running into each other. Loved their interactions.

Many of the secondary characters were very well drawn and memorable. I appreciated Darcy’s warmth and friendliness, especially.

Overall, a delightful read. Highly recommended!