Five things I love to do (in no particular order):
And, no, it isn't a book title.
Father, you've blessed us with a wealth of beauty to observe and drink in. Thank you for all of your blessings, your serious grace, your unequaled redemption, your incredible benevolence. Thank you is never enough.
(Consider this review after reading my comments on the movie trailer)
It’s no secret what a fan I am of Vince Flynn’s novels. I’ve read all of them now and will no doubt have a long, long wait for the next Mitch Rapp book. Vince’s novels routinely make the New York Times Bestseller List as well they should. He’s no stranger to readers of political thrillers, and he’s earned every bit of respect and notoriety for his fearless and insightful portrayals of terrorism, politics, and the CIA. The stories and his hero Mitch Rapp are unequaled in American novels dealing with similar topics. Once again I want to emphasize how big a fan I am: I love Vince Flynn novels.
So before I review the story which is a prequel to the Rapp novels, as a reader and as a writer, I must state that I have never seen so many copy-editing errors in any professionally published novel. This book is published by Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster, and is destined for the NYT Bestseller List upon its release. Mr. Flynn is represented by a top-flight agent and no doubt pulls the cream of the crop in editing services from his publisher. All that to say this: there is simply no excuse for producing a book from this talented author with no less than 25—and possibly more—errors in it beginning within the first three pages and continuing throughout the book.
From the standpoint of production: American Assassin is an incredibly disappointing piece of work. There were so many mistakes, at times it was distracting to read because not only were wrong names used in scenes where the particular character couldn’t be, other names were misspelled in one place after establishing the spelling in another. The word “widower” was used twice instead of the correct term “widow”. And can you believe “your” was used once for “you’re”?! Multiple times words were left out or others were present where they shouldn’t be. The only logical assumption is that this was typeset from a first draft. Honestly, I was shocked.
American Assassin introduces us to the young Mitch Rapp, discovered by CIA Director Thomas Stansfield’s protégé Irene Kennedy, and brought to the hidden training center for operatives and more specifically assassins—the location and leader of which readers will recognize from Pursuit of Honor. Stan Hurley, the mean old cuss and former operative assigned to train or derail the hopeful recruits, is hacked off that Irene insists this young “college puke” could possibly stand up to what will be required of him. Irene is insulted because Stan doesn’t give her credit for possibly discovering their best hope for the Middle East counterterrorism operations.
Standing toe-to-toe with the man she knows as Uncle Stan from her days as the daughter of a prominent foreign ambassador, she argues and accuses him of not taking her seriously because he still sees her as a little girl. Stan knows she’s right but there’s no way he’ll admit to it. In walks Rapp who immediately challenges the growling, sneering dude to a match in order to determine if Rapp has “the stuff” to remain at the facility. Surprise, surprise. The kid has the stuff but Hurley is still reluctant to keep him, ticked off because Rapp hasn’t had military training like most of the guys who wind up in the program. However, what he inevitably can’t ignore is the skill set, both physically and mentally, that Mitch Rapp brings to bear. His intelligence and intuitive talents match his physical strengths, and his humility in admitting his shooting skills need teaching and improvement make him a lock for withstanding the grueling and sadistic training.
Before too long Rapp is given his first assignment. Taking all of his detailed instructions into account, he improvises and assassinates an arms dealer who provided the impetus for the Lockerbie flight which went down with the love of his life on board. Without a twinge of guilt on a park bench outside the man’s apartment, Rapp looks the man in the eye and tells him why he is the target. Mission accomplished. Stan Hurley is rabid when he learns the outcome because Rapp didn’t follow the plan. However, when all is said and done, Director Stansfield reminds Hurley how much Rapp reminds him of Hurley in his youth, and eventually they form the cohesive unit needed to carry on the business of exterminating terrorists.
We see the transformation of a young man with a purpose, willing to sacrifice his life if necessary but preferring to overcome and eliminate targets/terrorists. Willing to ignore the parts that cause self-examination in the mirror of his life, he’s young enough and dedicated enough to see the necessity for his choice of a livelihood. Truly becoming a killing machine, Mitch Rapp knows that someone must do what he does if his country is to survive the evil intentions of those who would destroy it. We get the picture of who Rapp is—his uncompromising and unflinching strengths—and we know exactly how he became the American Assassin in the books to follow.
Great story. Mitch Rapp fans will love learning his early history. Dreadful presentation of a book. The best thing about the book’s production is its dual covers, both attractive and well-designed.
Father, you know Vince's heart and soul. You know where he's at with you, Jesus. Help him to continue to grow closer to you and produce the stories you have for him to tell. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
One of the best espionage/counterterrorism authors in the world, the late Vince Flynn sold the movie rights to his American Assassin before he was attacked by cancer - if my memory serves me correctly. If not before, shortly after. It was his first prequel in the wonderful Mitch Rapp series and told the history of this covert assassin/operator. Considering this background, why on earth would Hollywood decide it would be a great idea to rewrite that history of Mitch Rapp and cast Dylan O'Brien to play him? Mitch Rapp was tall, dark, and handsome, a star athlete at his university, with a mom and brother. If you've had the pleasure - and privilege really - of reading the Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn and now admirably continued by Kyle Mills, you might resent the changes. Quite frankly, I do. And so do many others who commented on Vince Flynn's website after viewing the trailer. You don't mess with the best. But apparently Hollywood thinks it's okay to slaughter significant details.
I should take the "wait and see" approach which I might have done if the powers that be making this film had at least stuck to the basics in recreating this novel. Now I'm already disappointed and will be viewing it with a decided and broad "chip on my shoulder" to its debut on September 15th, 2017 - and I won't be alone. It's really an insult to Vince Flynn devotees everywhere, and I don't know if the rest of the movie can make up for the false premise. #angry
Having written this, perhaps my heart can (and should probably) soften after reading this latest post by Vince's wife, Lisa:
Hidden Figures is the film based on a true story of three "colored" women who excel at much needed skills in the NASA environment of discrimination during the volatile early 60s after the Russians are the first to successfully put an astronaut in space. You will find the specific plot points via the link provided. Highly recommend it to all viewers.
Katherine Goble/Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Manae) get a brief opportunity to display their highly skilled and much needed talents amidst doubt, prejudice, and resentment. Giving respect to those who don't return it would cripple most people, let alone women, in an intense highly competitive workplace, but these women determined they should have their shot at contributing to their country's space program. As devoted workers and patriots, they rose above the ugly demoralizing treatment from their white peers and finally visibly earned the respect and admiration they deserved.
The actors in this film do an outstanding job and the writing of the characters rings mostly true to that era in that part of the country.
Having grown up in Seattle, Washington, under the love and guidance of a father from immigrant parents and a mother who survived small pox, parents who lived through The Great Depression, I learned respect for everyone, skin color was not in our vocabulary, and patriotism was of tantamount importance. It nearly nauseated me to see the treatment and regulations applied to these women and anyone of color during those hard and sorrowful times.
These amazing women conquered those prejudices ingrained in the psyches of misled groups of people blinded by arrogance and ignorance and established themselves among the elite minds of the NASA space program when the competition with the Russians was keen and ever present.
Again, if you haven't yet seen this film, you really should. It will break your heart but in the end it will make you cheer.
Father, how is it that we humans can be so utterly stupid about other people? We're all sin-stained and color doesn't change that. Only Jesus' Blood cleanses us from all of our unrighteousness - and that's the only "color" that truly matters. Help us, Lord, to see beyond our ridiculous prejudices whatever they may be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
We did not tell you cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
This review from January of 2013, "Attaining . . . January Justice".
January Justiceby Athol Dicksonpresents a new page in the ever-changing writing endeavors by this novelist. Available in soft cover and for e-readers on Amazon.com, January Justice gives us the first book in The Malcom Cutter Memoirs. I loved this book. In fact, it replaces Winter Haven as my favorite in the Athol Dickson arsenal of novels. Athol was born to write this series. Without forfeiting the wordsmith label and by supplying a meaningful and desirable protagonist, January Justice excels in this crime fiction genre.
Malcolm Cutter, former Marine engaged in Special Forces, lost his mind and the love of his life, actress Haley Lane, during a break in the provided studio trailer while shooting a film. The beautiful Haley Lane plunged to her death as he broke his hand trying to put it through the trailer's wall under bizarre and terrifying circumstances which neither of them suspected or could control.
Malcolm Cutter recovers in the guest house on the expansive estate of Haley Lane after being released from a mental hospital. His thoughts often escape to surreal places accompanied by outlandish visions, and he is regularly having to talk himself out of believing what his mind conveys to his visual and sometimes his audio senses. His occupation is that of chauffeur and it used to include being "Miss" Lane's bodyguard until he failed to achieve that duty one freaky frightening evening which resulted in tragedy for both of them. Now he's still in the chauffeur business but has added private security/inquiry to his résumé.
Simon, the amazing, almost omniscient British butler, makes sure Malcolm has what he needs even when he knows Malcom doesn't intend to take care of himself. Teru, the pipe-smoking attorney-gardener, also insists on inserting himself into the well-being of Malcolm Cutter, all of them having one thing in common: their love and respect for the deceased Haley Lane. That one thing forges them into an odd but loyal camaraderie and friendship which proves beneficial to them all.
Two Guatemalan professionals hire Malcolm to debunk the evidence which stated the old murder of an actress's husband, who was responsible for "the disappearing" of many Guatemalan's, was due to their political organization. When Malcolm takes the case, all kinds of chaos erupts, adding to the decision he must make as to whether or not life holds any value for him anymore now that Haley's dead and her case is cold.
With a variety of twists and turns leaving just enough loose ends untied for the next book in the series due out later this year, the complex plot lurches and dives into the old and new and eventually forces Malcolm Cutter to make those hard decisions about the fragile faith he barely clings to and why his life has been spared multiple times.
I found the imagery of various locations in Los Angeles and Guatemala intriguing and well done, providing vivid pictures of all kinds of landscapes from the rich and famous to the dirt poor. The development of Malcolm Cutter provides us with an instant establishment of his pain and confusion but gradually adds the layers of his depth of integrity, devotion, and ingrained toughness even when he doesn't want to use it. Personal reflections flesh out the absentee character of Haley Lane and make it easier to experience his loss. Blaming himself for her death has robbed him of a vital part of his being, and we hope that in the next story he'll begin to reassess his value in the investigation of her death and that self-defining purpose he needs to survive.
I reiterate I loved this book. Highly recommend it to readers of crime fiction and thrillers. Kudos and high praise to Athol Dickson for excelling in a new thing with his writing.
Father, please continue to bless this new chapter for Athol. Supply the stories, the depth he always includes in his writing, and instruct him in all things he does for your glory. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Dr. Ryan Tremaine, ophthalmologist, was married with two sons when he went astray which ended in divorce. The result of that wayward fling was a female child who suffered from the effects of a mother who drank too much during pregnancy. When the mother of that child died, her sister wanted custody but Ryan stepped up and claimed his responsibility as her father. His teen sons resent him and his daughter Penny is more than a handful, going through nannies like dirty Kleenexes.
On an attempted family bonding trip to the mall to get 15 yr. old Kyle some baseball cleats, he asks the younger Eric to take the younger yet Penny to get ice cream for the few minutes it'll take to get the shoes for Kyle. Eric resents his half-sister and has no interest in watching her. Dragging her to the arcade instead of getting ice cream is a terrible choice because of her sensitivities and when Ryan and Kyle find him, they fail to find Penny who has left the area. The inwardly frantic and angry Ryan composes himself enough to organize the search for Penny.
Carly spots a little girl playing with stuffed animals at the back of the toy store where she works. After some investigation and conversation with the girl, she realizes first the child has wandered off and second the child has special needs. Relying on her education, Carly figures a way to befriend the girl and expects at any time a desperate parent will show up for her.
When the desperate father appears, his relief is instant along with his gratitude. Through some discussion the attractive doctor wants to hire Carly to be Penny's new nanny which Carly resists for a variety of reasons but eventually succumbs to the desire to help this distraught father and family make good adjustments to their unique situation.
The romance is overshadowed in this story by the effect of FAS on this family. It's basically a teaching tutorial on this unfortunate preventable disorder which affects children in both similar and very different ways. Carly's had experience with the needs of those affected by this and has one giant failure she neither forgives in herself nor forgets. She handles Penny the best and is helpful to Ryan and the boys with their understanding of her radical behaviors at times. Capturing the thought patterns and reactions of young Penny is done very well as is Carly's provision and instruction for the little girl.
The faith factor comes between Ryan and Carly as they fight their attractions to each other. Carly's Christianity is first in her life until her attraction to Ryan toys with her commitment.
I never warmed up to either of the protagonists in this story, although I preferred Carly. The chemistry just didn't show up for me. My lack of attraction to Ryan had nothing to do with his moral failure but rather his awkward conduct and condescension to Carly's faith. The constant teaching in regard to Penny felt like the "romance" was a prop to get the point across about the difficulties of FAS and the terrible choices which lead to this avoidable affliction.
Father, please continue to bless Victoria's life and writing. Provide what she needs to write the stories you have just for her to tell. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I think that publishing professionals sometimes forget the incredible abilities of readers to start from scratch when they open the pages of a novel. Perhaps they forget that readers can set up their imaginations to go through the thrill ride of a new story. Now I will concede it's possible an exception could be made for the die-hard romance readers, but I believe even they can open up their reasonable expectations within the formula if something on those pages takes them away to a fresh experience. And I do understand the rigid demands often made by some very vocal Christian fiction readers.
My opinion rests on the vast creative spirits of writers who strive to do something a bit innovative, slightly different, while still keeping somewhat within the borders of their preferred genres and the general accepted norms of story structure. I can tell you this from years and years of reading fiction: it's a thrill to read something that stretches those formulas when well written and well told.
My rebel nature spikes at the absolutes of what is and isn't "acceptable" in fiction writing. From no-no adverbs to the distaste of italics, I close off when I hear instructions that make these things a writing taboo. I know lots and lots of readers besides my rebellious reader/writer self who could care less about those restrictions if they like the characters and the story's good. And, honestly, some readers don't notice or care if a novel is "written well" if the author can tell a good story.
In a perfect publishing world the professionals would erase every expectation with each new submission and start from a place that guarantees they will not keep the same old demands and "rules". Allow the authors the liberty of creation and the readers a chance to experience something that doesn't adhere to a strict formula but leads them to a place they haven't been before.
Father, help each one of us who writes to go with you to the ends of creativity and to learn from you above all others. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
This from August 3rd, 2008, my favorite of all of Chris Fabry's wonderful novels.
This has been a rewarding summer in the reading department. The CFBA blog tours have provided an ample selection of valuable novels, and my other selections have exceeded or at least equaled my high expectations for the choices I’ve made.
Now to add to the growing collection of worthwhile novels: Chris Fabry’s first adult novel, Dogwood. The West Virginia native, “husband of one and father of nine” as he likes to say, has authored over 50 children’s and young adult books, and he is the host of the “Chris Fabry Live!” on Moody Radio, the Love Worth Findingbroadcast. Suffice it to say his credentials are no small potatoes.
I cannot pinpoint how this happens, but some writers just inspire me to flex my writing muscles—to get down to it again, dive in for total immersion, engaging that story which simmers in my mind’s eye. Chris Fabry’s writing did that for me. He made me want to be better, to encapsulate myself within the words absorbing them into my bloodstream in order to somehow produce a living, breathing story. Oh, I know the feeling, but with this blog I’ve gotten away from “the novel” for awhile, and now it’s like I’m starving myself—or maybe it’s just finally occurring to me that I’m ingesting a bunch of junk food and trying to “live” healthy. Regardless of analogies, his writing is rewarding, so wonderfully and at the same time painfully real, that I remember what it feels like to “compose” a story. Thank you for that, Chris.
Dogwood is a multiple character study of several members of the small town, the protagonist Will facing his release from 12 years of prison, the memory of his first and only love keeping him sane and almost hopeful. The vision of his dreams for the future, Karin, is struggling with a tormented existence which she perceives as empty, lifeless, and corrupted by her memories and rekindled desires for Will after being convinced by an elderly friend to visit him not long before his release. She spends most of her nights in her closet unable to sleep.
The town of Dogwood has not forgiven Will for the car accident which slaughtered the children of one family, and he returns to hateful stares and trouble keeping a job. He learns a good friend from his youth has disappeared, and nothing seems right about the speculations as to his whereabouts. His strained relationship with his brother and the menacing threats from the new sheriff all add up to more misery, difficulty, and obstacles for Will’s realization of any kind of dream.
The subplots and intersections of all these characters reveal an intricate connection to one another. I haven’t decided if I’m completely in agreement with the choices made for the ending of this novel, but I’ll tell you this: the writing makes up for my differences with the plot direction and makes it more than a worthy read. I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately—and I know when someone reviews a book with superfluous comments, it can get old and seem a bit dishonest—but I truly loved this book.
The primary reason for my feelings is that Chris presents so many depictions of people and circumstances planted in a reality and voiced by individuals who you or I as a reader have either seen or known in our actual lives. They become familiar and you would recognize their voices and attitudes even if the chapters weren’t titled with their names. There are only a couple of stereotypes—easily noticed without my identification—but for the most part this story puts you smack dab in the middle of small town America with an angry attitude, a hypocritical desire to make someone pay, and a grudge to hold for as long as necessary. Contrasted to that is a love so deep and inextinguishable, it holds you captive with its hope—even when you wonder if it’s okay to hope for its consummation.
This is a beautiful story written oh so well. Read it if you can.
Father, I wouldn’t wish for Chris to be removed from sharing his writing with children or young adults, but I pray you would continue to lead him to write for adults as well. Thank you for the talent you’ve given him, and I pray your inspiration would reign in his heart. Please help him in all of his endeavors done for your glory. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Ruth Logan Herne has written a contemporary romance featuring life on the Stafford prized cattle ranch where the wayward son who left the lush hills of eastern Washington state for the financial glitz of Manhattan returns to his childhood home knowing he'll face the friction of his father and brother but not expecting it to come from a beautiful and tough woman managing the house and his ailing father's care.
Colt Stafford sampled all the financial district in New York had to offer until the market turned on him along with a questionable investment that stunted his successful career. Going home to the Double S Ranch humbles him knowing he'll be forced to face his failure head on with his father and brother. When he walks in the door to a startling beauty holding a rifle pointed at his chest, he's forced to identify himself in his former home. Turns out Angelina Morales wasn't expecting him home early and since she'd never met him, she was establishing the Double S home didn't tolerate intruders. When he confirms his identity, his welcome goes from deadly to lukewarm.
Colt hits the ground running - or riding as it turns out - right in the middle of calving season on the lush ranch and just before a major storm rolls in. Rounding up pregnant cows and new calves to shelter them from the onset of the storm presses him, his brother, and their hired help who've been with the ranch for many years. Extra help shows up and Angelina keeps them all well fed.
Colt's father has suffered some severe health issues but is doing his best to recover. He's had a major change of heart in recent times and wants to make up for who he's been to his sons and the community over the past many years since the boys' mother died when they were very young. Colt's not buying it at first having acquired a hard heart himself during his time estranged from the ranch.
The attraction between Angelina and Colt is undeniable although they both fight it. (It is a romance novel after all.) With wrong suppositions about each other and their past experiences, not to mention some personal secrets, to thwart their progress toward each other, Colt grows weary of the fight and decides to plow through the difficulties between them. The addition of family, neighbors, his brother's daughters, another estranged brother eager to forgive and be a part of the new attitude permeating the ranch, there's much happening behind the scenes adding more confusion and chaos. When a fire breaks out on the outskirts of the small town, it takes fast action from the Stafford men to help contain the danger and Angelina is right in the thick of it.
I appreciated reading a novel about a fictional eastern Washington town and the way Ruth handled the sensitivity of ranchers who respect the animals they raise. Slipping in the faith factors through some of the characters, its influence in the overall story and mending relationships, she kept the need for forgiveness and starting over prominent throughout the novel. With likable co-protagonists, a reformed and appealing ailing father, and interesting peripheral characters, Back in the Saddle does its job of presenting a contemporary western romance. Enjoyed this one.
Father, please bless Ruth in all of her writing. Help her to do as you ask and may she honor you in all she does and writes. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zaccheus, he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner."
But Zaccheus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody, out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
Personal dreams or goals are odd things. Some of them are based on impossibilities and others are based on the individual's sheer will to meet them or to make them happen. Ranging from marriage and a happy family to climbing Mt. Everest, dreams and goals are usually present in almost all humanity.
When we think about those who are being butchered and persecuted, starved and imprisoned, it's hard to imagine what their dreams might be. We're privileged to at the very least think about what we hope will happen or what we are committed to make happen in our life's quest.
Those who seek positions or authority, who wish to gain fame and fortune, who want to write or paint the next world-renowned masterpiece, but who do so while relying on their own ingenuity, intelligence, inspiration, and indulgence are missing the greatest fete of all: the dependence on the One who gives creativity, gifting, abilities, and determination while guiding individuals to fulfill those things designed just for them. To understand the life purpose, to struggle along the way establishing humility in the tasks, to absolutely know that God introduces people to their talents and lays the groundwork for completing the journey to His endgame . . . it takes the ultimate faith to persevere to achieve whatever that is.
The lessons learned in this lifetime often come hard and fast and can be repeated as necessary. Without purpose life's goals and dreams can seem meaningless or eventually unattainable creating disillusionment. People push themselves to do unlikely things because they want them to happen not because they've discovered any divine leading to accomplish them. Modifications are made, time stretches taut, or perhaps every goal and dream sought are realized. And then . . . void. Or narcissism. Or the illusion of perfection. And the push for more continues.
With God people can find new inspiration as the original plan is finished. Age requires new ideas that can be productive and sustained. God has the plan for each human being He created. Some plans are simple, others complex, others defined only by Him, but no one is discounted, no one is without purpose. It's easy for humans to forget that. And it's easier still for humans to disregard that unique design while pursuing other goals and dreams that are highly valued only to themselves.
If in the middle of pursuing that illusive dream or goal, consider the One who designed you, who owns the Master Plan, who will accompany you through every level of disappointment and achievement, who will never abandon you when you fail and will finally help you to succeed His way no matter how long it takes or how old you are.
Father, you are the ultimate gift giver, the Grand Designer, the fulfiller of promises. Apart from you, we can do nothing. Always desperate for you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Republished from 2012: The goodness in . . . My Stubborn Heart
My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade, published by Bethany House, is my final May review for the CFBA Tour and what a way to close it out. It's a rare time, as those who follow me here know, that I can rave about a CBA romance novel. As much as I love romance, that's a sad commentary on the genre in general. However, even though My Stubborn Heart is officially a romance novel in that it follows the formula for such stories, Becky Wade has breathed fresh life into a tried - and/or tired - and true format. My Stubborn Heart touched mine.
Antique-lover Kate Donovan lives and works in social services for child placement in Dallas, Texas. Heartbreak has overridden her enthusiasm so she's grateful for the three months away she gets to spend with her grandmother in Redbud, Pennsylvania, restoring the grand old home where her "Gran" grew up. Weary of the "still-single-at 31" stigma, she wonders if God will ever provide the right man for her.
Shortly upon arrival, Gran introduces her to the contractor hired to renovate the house. Matt Jarreau has little to say, but Kate is nearly paralyzed with attraction to the guy whose eyes telegraph some kind of sorrow while his demeanor shouts "No Admittance" to his personal life. Matt determines to work alone and Kate decides she's going to penetrate that steel façade and make a friend out of him because he's a solid challenge to her stubborn heart. When she and Gran learn his history, a new perspective accompanies the information.
Kate and Gran go to work on sifting through all the decades of stuff in the house while Matt labors over each room in stony silence. When Kate "helps" him paint her attic bedroom, Matt senses she's not going to respond to his stay-away looks and parsed words. Day after day she works her way into stunted conversations with him while Gran invites him to stay for dinner every night after work, and every night he refuses until one night he accepts and berates himself for yielding right up until he's in the kitchen getting coerced cooking lessons from Gran.
Okay, we all know how it's gonna end. However, the walk-through of this relationship is at times comical, always emotional, heartbreaking, and fully entertaining. The sub-plots and peripheral characters offer clever and meaningful variety to the fleshed out Kate and Matt. With the struggles elevated by the faithful Kate and the faithless, angry Matt, we observe the depth of their individual conflicts and accumulated personal pain.
The sub-themes of what's required in faith, of worthiness, of forgiveness, of obedience - they're all there, sometimes subtle, sometimes not - but well done.
For those readers of Christian fiction who've wanted a little more reality in the language department, Becky dares to use the following words (which will no doubt raise the hackles of those readers who pass judgment on these kinds of things): boobs, balls (as in male body parts), crap, pissed. Only once for some of them and at, dare I say, the opportune moments? Really. And this from Bethany House! Ay, ay, ay. Not for shock value but for poignant moments and character-fitting verbiage. Authenticity. The way it should be done in this kind of story.
My one nit-picky criticism is the cover. I wish they would've done the top half like the bottom half just showing part of Kate's face because the cover rendition doesn't fit the girl inside the pages . . .
There's some great writing in My Stubborn Heart. Becky fluctuates between Kate's and Matt's POVs and thoughts and nails their personalities. I love the way the final conflict is resolved. The man's man that Matt is would do it this way. If you want to read a truly good romance novel with heart, skilled writing, and a Prologue and Epilogue which will remind you of the film Chocolat, My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade is the book for you. Thoroughly recommended.
Father, you know the romance you put in Becky's heart and the talent you've given her to convey it. Please continue to bless that heart and give her those love stories you've designed just for her to tell. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.