Pucked by Rachel Walter

Pucked
By: Rachel Walter
 
 

 

Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?

 

Riley Silk, captain of the Warriors Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.

 

Audrey Jacobs, the Warriors’ number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.

 

When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path.

 

Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?

 

Who keeps the puck?

 

**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**

 



Excerpt:

Riley

“This or that?” Audrey asks.

I drum my fingers on the armrest as I think. “Music or movies?”

She glances at me sideways. “Music. Fiction or non-fiction.”

“Fiction. Dancing or singing?”

She laughs. “Dancing in the rain. Dancing on ice or falling on ice?”

“I practically danced on the ice tonight!” I snort. “I don’t fall…often.”

“I don’t mean that kind of dancing.”

“Like? A slow dance or something?” She nods. “And shall I ask Rob to be my partner?”

“Well, you could do a crazy one armed, one legged, booty shakin’ dance after a win,” she offers.

I laugh, loudly. “Where do you come up with this?” She shrugs a shoulder as she merges with interstate traffic. “In that case, fall. High heels or bikini wax?”

“You say fall because you’re a chicken. Do you even know what a bikini wax is?”

“If it’s like the name…then yes, and I’m not a chicken.”

“You are too, and I’d choose high heels. Feathers or snow?”

“You’d break your ankle! Snow. I’m still not a chicken,” I argue.

“I’d likely break both, but you are a chicken.”

“Will you stop calling me a chicken?”

The sound of her laughter centers me, I was meant to be right here with her. Just to hear her voice, her laugh…

“I will stop when you do a one armed, one legged, booty shakin’ dance on ice for me.” I hang my head. “Oh, and it has to be after a win, on home ice, and everyone has to see it.”

“Not gonna happen, Aud.”

“Same as usual, Chicken?” she asks as we pull into McDonalds drive-thru.

“Not a chicken, yes.”

“Okay.” She waits with the window cracked for an employee to take our order. A feminine voice comes through, asking what we’ll have. “One chocolate shake for the chicken and one vanilla shake for the tomboy,” she replies with a laugh.

“How many piece chicken nugget?”

Audrey laughs harder. “No chicken please, just the two shakes.”

“See, a sign you should knock the chicken shit off.”

“Not a chance, Chicken.” She clucks for good measure.

“No electricity or no plumbing,” I ask, hoping to pull her away from the teasing.

“No electricity, Chicken. One girl or all the girls?”

“One,” I say, burning a hole in the side of her head.

“Aw, a romantic chicken. I don’t think I’ve ever heard about one of those.” She tilts her face toward mine. Both of us just staring at the other, with very little space between us. My eyes fall shut and I lean back further into my seat. Way to make things awkward again, idiot. Chicken.

“Pink or purple?” I ask.

She groans, passing me the milkshakes the guy in at the window handed her. “Purple. Doer or dreamer?”

I chew on the inside of my cheek as I work the straws out of their wrappers. “Doer.” I’m too much of a dreamer. Or planner, but I don’t follow through.

 

About the Author

 

Rachel Walter is a wife and mother first and a coffee-addicted,chuck-wearing, hockey-watching, snark-spewing author second. She primarily writes Young Adult, but enjoys challenging herself in other genres, like Adult Contemporary. In 2012, Rachel began writing her first novel, True Connection, which she published in 2013. True Connection was re-released in 2014 as part of a boxed set, Pandora, which landed on USA Today’s Best Seller list. When she’s not writing or making images for her Instagram feature, #authorslog, she can be found doing almost anything in south central Pennsylvania, where she lives, to avoid washing dishes.
Social Media links
snapchat: rachelw_auth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Rachel_Walter

My Review:  I very rarely sign up for blog tours or accept review requests anymore (sorry for the collective groan I just heard from all hopeful authors and tour companies), mostly because of time, but also because when I do  find time to read, I don’t want it to be because I obligated myself, but because I really want to sit and read the book I have purchased, borrowed, whatever.  However, the tour for Pucked popped up in my email and I was interested in it the first time.  It popped up again, and I took the bait.  Why?  Well, it’s a YA and it’s a sports book, AND it’s a best friends book.  I happen to like all of the above.  (And see…it’s not a hopeless cause to contact me, it just has to be the right fit!)

What I Loved:  I loved the dynamic between Audrey and Riley.  Their friendship within the first pages was easy and fun, as long as they are alone.  Riley starts off the book over-protective and there’s always a part of me that really enjoys this.  However, this book has all kinds of other issues wrapped up in with it.  And the heat between these characters is very, VERY well written.  There were moments in this book that left me breathless due to the emotions flowing between them.

Audrey is such a strong character with a strong support group (parentals).  She has a defined growth arc throughout this book where as the rules of her and Riley’s friendship start changing, she finds herself a bit lost, however she is able to work through this and readjust to where she needs to be.

So before I head to the next part of my review….I want to note here that I really loved this story.  There are so many elements that I felt were well written and what was happening in Riley and Audrey’s lives really kept me invested.  If I didn’t have kids and a job, this would have been an all-nighter read for me, however I cannot elaborate too much as to what these elements and parts of the story that I loved so much were because I make it a rule not to mention more information than what is listed in the blurb if I can help it…and I haven’t been given much wiggle room in this area this time!

Not So Much:  The growth arc for Riley isn’t quite as well played out in my mind.  I loved this story, and him especially, but I felt like the internal issues he was dealing with were sort of dealt with in the outskirts of the scenes written on the page – and then was mentioned in the description of time passing or something like that so that the readers knew that it wasn’t missed all together.  I really wish to have actually seen Riley take some of the very necessary steps he needed to take instead of just being told that they happen.

Throughout the story I got the impression that Riley wasn’t as into hockey as much as he was using it as a means to an end.  Then later in the book you learn a little more about how/why Riley got into hockey.  I also would have liked to have seen this sport become something he loved again, rather than his ticket to college.

The Verdict: Pucked was at times a very sweet read, and at other times was a little difficult.  I feel like there are so many teenagers out there who would relate to this book and it’s message.  This book is very clean and YA appropriate, and I do highly recommend it!

Paper Hearts – Ali Novak

33584564Title: Paper Hearts
Author: Ali Novak
Series: The Heart Breaker’s Chronicles

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: July 4, 2017

Blurb: Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she’s had the full weight of her mother’s expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college.

Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned-like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he’d flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he’d turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.

Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity’s missing sister. And she’s about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be…

My Review: Paper Hearts is actually book 2 of the Heart Breaker’s Chronicles.  I didn’t realize that.  Or maybe I did and decided I didn’t care, I can’t remember, but it didn’t reflect in the story at all.  Anyhow, every now and then I can’t resist the whole regular person/celebrity fantasy (um, duh, Cinder & Ella!).  Also road-trip books are another of my favorite tropes.

What I Loved: I always love when I pick up a book and it doesn’t let me put it down.  That is what happened with this book.  I started it Saturday morning, and I stayed up late Saturday evening to finish it (I had other stuff to do in the middle, or else it wouldn’t have taken me over 12 hours to finish it!)

So Alec’s personality was soooooo much swoon-worthy to me.  He lacked all the arrogant famous person thing, but at the same time he seemed to take it in stride.  He was mostly just nonchalant about it – which was nice since it didn’t really take over the entire story. He also stood out as introverted to me (which is opposite of what you would expect from a member of a famous band) but it made him more appealing.  I also LOVE the band and their camaraderie.  It makes me want to go back and read book 1.

I also really enjoyed Felicity when she was with Alec and her friends. She was friendly and fun.  The chemistry between her and Alec is what kept me going for sure.

Not so Much:  So Felicity was a little yo-yo on the personality front.  She would be so awesome and reasonable some moments, and then disappear into herself and her worries. Many times she was doing things she knew she shouldn’t be – and naturally it blows up in her face in a world of misunderstanding.  It was a little frustrating.

The Verdict:  Paper Hearts was a great read – and will make for an awesome book to take to the beach!  It was very older-teen oriented, but not inappropriate.  I do think I’m going to be looking up book 1, and following these Chronicles out.

**This book was an Advanced Reader Copy from Netgalley.com; other than the joy of reading – I was granted no compensation to review this book.**

 

Gemina – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

29236299Title: Gemina 
Authors:  Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminea Files

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published Date: October 18, 2016

Blurb: Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

My Review:
My husband and I both enjoyed Illuminea so much that we purchased the audiobook of Gemina almost immediately afterward.

What I Loved:  I’m still really enjoying this world that has been created, and the way that these books are laid out. This time we start out in a court room reviewing documents against BeiTech.  From there we are told a story once again through the IMs, documents and video surveillance cameras as we were previously.  Similar to Illuminea, we are dealing with not only BeiTech and another invasion, but another outside conflict – this time in the form of human-eating aliens.

The characters in this book grew on me as the story progressed, which was good because I didn’t care much for Hanna at all at the beginning.     The characters Hanna and Nik are both just as fun and witty as Kady and Ezra were, but very much their own people.  The best character by far, though, was Nik’s cousin.  I just LOVED her ‘voice’ throughout the entire book.  Hanna’s was kind of amazing when she applied all of her convenient training – and started scaling the ship like a super-spy. Nik was an awesome hero and ladies man <wink.>

Not So Much:  So there is some drug usage in this book.  It does play it’s part I suppose, but I never care for any kind of drug recreational usage in a YA novel.  It’s just a ‘thing’ for me.  I was also disappointed at first of the lack of Kady and Ezra in this book, as I had grown to love them in Illuminae.  I did really enjoy this book, but honestly, it really just followed the same exact outline of Illuminae – granted the story was different, and the aliens were some bad dudes, the general outline is there.  I really hope that the future book will not fall into the same rut.

The Verdict:  I don’t think it was possible for this to have been better than Illuminae no matter what way you shake it.  I really do love the world that has been established, and at this point I really want to see BeiTech go down – hard.  So I will be listening or reading anything else that comes up in this series.  As far as clean goes – the cussing was cut back by a LOT in this book (though as it was previously – all cussing is blanked out in the actual book the audiobook makes it clear what is being said).  I mentioned the drug usage previously – and that would really be my big hang-up with the whole YA genre.

 

The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

30851451Title: The Elusive Miss Ellison
Author: Carolyn Miller
Series: Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace #1

Publisher: Kregel Publications
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Buy Link: http://a.co/eMkyeMp

Blurb: Pride, prejudice and forgiveness…
Hampton Hall’s new owner has the villagers of St. Hampton Heath all aflutter–all except Lavinia Ellison. The reverend’s daughter cares for those who are poor and sick, and the seventh Earl of Hawkesbury definitely does not meet that criteria. His refusal to take his responsibilities seriously, or even darken the door of the church, leave her convinced he is as arrogant and reckless as his brother–his brother who stole the most important person in Lavinia’s world.

Nicholas Stamford is shadowed by guilt: his own, his brother’s, the legacy of war. A perfunctory visit to this dreary part of Gloucestershire wasn’t supposed to engage his heart, or his mind. Challenged by Miss Ellison’s fascinating blend of Bluestocking opinions, hoydenish behavior, and angelic voice, he finds the impossible becoming possible–he begins to care. But Lavinia’s aloof manner, society’s opposition and his ancestral obligations prove most frustrating, until scandal forces them to get along.

Can Lavinia and Nicholas look beyond painful pasts and present prejudice to see their future? And what will happen when Lavinia

My Review: I got this book from NetGalley (typically they tell you NOT to start with this information because readers will think your review is skewed…apparently I don’t care…), and it was a bit of a surprise actually.  I think I was just browsing the shelves of NetGalley one day and I have a rule – I can request 3 books at a time.  Once those three books are cycled through, I’ll go request 3 more.  This keeps me from over-committing myself. I hate when I do that and find myself in a rebellious (to my self) cycle of hating everything I’m reading simply because I obligated myself to read it.  It’s silly..but it happens.  ANYHOW, I don’t remember requesting this book, but I’m sure I did. I do love a regency novel now and then, and the mere mention of Pride and Prejudice probably would have me hitting “request” pretty quickly. And I find the lavender in the cover rather pretty, I’m sure that helped some too.  But when I got the email, I was like, ‘what is this madness??’

What I Loved:  The setting of course is a given, I loved both Gloucestershire, and the small-town life and community.  I also loved when the book picked up again in London, and all her glory.  I so enjoyed Lavina and her strong-willed ways.  Nicholas and his teasing and sarcasm.  I truly enjoyed all of the characters in this book, even the characters who didn’t have redeeming qualities because they played their part in the story as a whole.

I do love the growth of the characters, especially Lavina, as she learned that her self-sacrificing ways were also a huge pride issue for her that had resulted in a prejudice, and judgmental spirit as well.

Another surprise for me was that this turned out to be a Christian novel.  I’m sure I knew that when I requested it, but since I just started reading without looking at what I was reading again, I was like..oh, okay.  I don’t always grab Christian novels because I find a lot of them to be a bit over ‘preachy’ – which I find unnecessary because well…Christians are the most likely to pick up a Christian novel.  However, this book had a surprisingly good sermon included.  The best I had ever read in a novel such as this.  It was so good I took a few screen shots and posted it to social media.  I was convicted as much as the characters of the story were.  Surprise-surprise.  I love when books buck my own judgmental ways!

Not So Much: I’m the first to tell you that I love a good re-tell.  I seek them out, actually.  But when I first started reading this, I kept wondering if it was supposed to be a Pride and Prejudice retell or not.  Actually, I do think it was supposed to show reflections of the classic story, but it was a story all it’s own too.  I’m still a bit confused on this issue.

Okay, so our main characters were so confused for almost this entire story.  I felt like they did a lot of not-talking about what was going on, causing all kinds of misunderstandings.  I am all for misunderstandings and reconciliations, but the number of times that Nicholas had to apologize started to get a bit ridiculous.  I was at about 85% when this ball dropped again and nearly put the book down in frustration.  There were plenty of other conflicts, in my opinion, that could have been expounded on, that this misunderstanding each other one needed to be laid to rest at some point.

The Verdict: I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  Even though I admit to having almost put it down, I am so glad I did not.  As I was wrapping it up last night before bed, the ending of the novel left me with that happy glow of an excellently executed HEA.  I’m pretty sure I don’t need to remark on how clean the novel was…but it is squeaky, and STILL a fantastic despite my small misgivings.

Dream Chaser – Angie Stanton

13037321Dream Chaser by Angie Stanton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published November 4th 2011 by Vanguard Management

Buy Link:  http://a.co/3RraFCA

Blurb: Willow Thomas has a bad habit of running away from things that scare her. And most recently, she quit her high school cheerleading squad after a terrifying fall.

With time on her hands, she auditions for a musical production directed by a Broadway choreographer. Just as things are looking up, Willow discovers she will be performing opposite Eli McAvoy, the best friend she abandoned three years before. To make matters worse, the kids in the musical hate her, her singing sucks, and her dog is sick.

Eli has grown up during their years apart and now possesses confidence and good looks, as well as a giant chip on his shoulder. He is in no hurry to play nice with Willow, but their entwined roles in the musical lead to entwined bodies in the backseat of his car.

Just when Willow finally has her life under control, another surprise is delivered in the form of her greatest challenge yet. Will she run or finally stand and face her fears? And will Eli be there to help or turn his back on her for good?

I picked up Dream Chaser this week due to a recommendation by Lenore over at Celebrity Readers, because while Lenore and I don’t always read the same style books….we usually do. As is probably evident by the [lack of] activity on my blog, I’ve not only been having a difficult time finding moments to read/blog, but I’ve also found myself in one of those inevitable reading slumps where every book you pick up and start gives you that, ‘meh’ feeling. I’ve even been having a difficult time getting into audiobooks recently – and listening to audiobooks while I work is one of my favorite things! Regardless, I think the slump has been broken, because on Saturday November 19th I read not one, but two books in their entirety. Granted, I was also pretty sick and allowed myself to be confined to the couch for the day…but still.

What I Loved: I wouldn’t pick up a book about cheerleaders on my own, not because I have something against cheerleaders, but because most of the ones I have picked up have come off so very cliche in the ‘cheerleader’ personality of the characters. I just couldn’t get into them. Dream Chaser was not a cheerleader book, it was more of a theater book. I’m so glad I allowed myself to read past the beginning to discover this. I adore most theater type books.

Willow was also not the typical ‘over achiever’ character. She WAS an over achiever, apparently single-handedly throwing the cheerleaders into National Championship winner status, and also good enough to be thrown into the leading role of a musical that was already several weeks into practices – so yes, definitely over achiever. However, she struggled with subjects in school, and her self confidence was really pretty low. She was humble and recognized that while she may be good, in both of her activities she realized the important part of being just a part of an entity. She understood the value of practice and hard work, and just work ethic in general.

The chemistry between Willow and Eli is what really had me devouring this book. Their history as best friends and former partners really helped to play into the tension that built between them. I loved their director, Tyson’s, little comments regarding this tension, and his role at helping them overcome their past.

Another favorite part is that regardless of how awful Jilly and the rest of Willow’s friends were treating her because of her decision to move on from cheerleading, I’m glad that this wasn’t a transfer from one group of friends to another, and that there was some healing and understanding that started to happen.

Every time I think that I’m done with this section, I remember something else about the story that I love….Willow’s family is AWESOME! I loved their support and understanding. I think that my favorite scene is when they come home and catch Willow and Eli on the couch. 😉

Not So Much: I feel like the gravity of Willow’s cheerleading accident was either overplayed at the beginning, or underplayed throughout the book. She could have easily died, and yet so few of the cast of characters of this book seem to really take that into consideration when dealing with Willow about her decisions or fears. I also think that something like that would take you out of the ‘game’ longer than half a week.

The Verdict: This is everything I could have asked for in a ‘sick day’ book. It was entertaining, passionate, fun and serious at times. I even shed a couple tears… I’m so glad I picked the book up and started reading almost immediately. This book is clean and perfect for your teens!

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Through the Lens – Shannon Dermott

31834006Through the Lens by Shannon Dermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: August 25th 2016

Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B00AC2NSXM

Blurb: Being a twin isn’t all that bad, nor is it all that good. Being the fat twin makes things a little worse. Seventeen year old, Jessa Shelby has been all but ignored. Trimmed down, but not skinny like her sister, she has decided to make her mark in her final year in high school.

Things begin anew the summer before her senior year when she makes friends with Ethan Hart, a boy with a twisted past, and Allie, his near celebrity status girlfriend, while taking pictures with her new prized possession. Hanging out with them opened her eyes to a lot of new possibilities including Josh Macon, whom she’s secretly crushed on all through high school. No longer the ‘fat girl’, Josh now seems interested in her too.

Long before the day comes to graduate, Jessa finds herself gasping for air. With her vision clouded from tears born of pain as the straps from her precious camera tighten around her throat, clarity sets in. They say that just before you die your life flashes before your eyes. And on the threshold of death claiming her, she finds that partially true. Her flash begins as if to explain just how she ended up on Death’s door. With mere moments left, she has to wonder if trust had come at a very high price.

Every now and then I get it in my mind that I want to read a bit of a thriller. Nothing scary, just something that will keep my on the edge of my seat, trying to guess what is going to happen. That was what I was imagining when I picked up Through the Lens.

What I Loved: This story did keep me captivated. It starts off with the end…so when it jumps back to the beginning I spent the entire book wondering; who, what, when, where, why? (Yes, I did just list all the W’s…but it’s true, I spent the entire book making hypothesizes).

I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book, which is kind of rare for me. Usually, I have a few I like and a few I don’t, but everyone in this book seem to have their place and played it well. I loved Ethan’s mystery, and Jessa’s new found popularity, Josh’s appeal and Jenna’s jealousy.

Not So Much: I didn’t exactly get the thriller I was hoping for. Yes, I did contemplate the ending from the very beginning, but there was no real ‘danger’ or any thing overly suspenseful about the book until close to the end. It was more of a typical YA with troubled teenagers just learning to “life.” Some of the characters did have a little extra baggage than others, but there wasn’t the cat and mouse game I was hoping for.

The Verdict: Even if it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be, I still loved this book! The characters really make this book, 100%. There is some mystery to it as well, and a lot of different kinds of foreshadowing that keep you guessing the entire book. This book has some mild partying, drinking, and off-scene sex, nothing graphic though. Still upper YA in my opinion.

I received a copy of Through the Lens  from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have received no other compensation, other than the joy of reading, for my opinion.

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My Hope Next Door – Tammy L. Gray

29806080My Hope Next Door by Tammy L. Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher: Waterfall Press
Published Date: September 13th 2016

Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B01DC5YF1E

Blurb:  Former bad girl Katie Stone can feel the weight of her reputation settle over her as she drives home for the first time in years. Feeling deeply guilty about her past mistakes, Katie wants to do the right thing for once. But the small town where she grew up is not nearly as forgiving as she’d hoped. Despite it all, she’s determined to help her parents cope with her mother’s recent illness, and Katie finds a surprise ally in the man next door.

Asher Powell never minded being the son of a small-town pastor until a recent breakup leaves him wounded by lifelong members of his church. He remembers his new neighbor as a mean-spirited high school troublemaker, but he senses that her newfound faith and desire for forgiveness are sincere.

Through an unexpected friendship, two people from different worlds find peace, hope, and a second chance they never dreamed was possible.

Tammy L Gray has become a pretty consistent 1-Click Author for me, mostly because her stories are filled both with real-life and hope.

What I Loved: So many words out of this novel are nearly the same things that come out of my Pastor’s mouth on a regular basis, a message of being real and genuine as a Christian, and through our daily walk with those who aren’t. She mentions so many hot buttons, such as how Christians are hypocrites (true), gossips (true), sinners (well duh), but she also brings light to the fact that despite these things, there are Christ-followers who are real and genuine. People who struggle on a daily basis to just get it right. How if we are truly “Christ-Followers” we would do as He did, sit at tables with sinners, show them love and compassion and not judgment and rejection. It was also touched upon how Christians have their own “language” using words that are unfamiliar to those who did not grow up in Church. Using these words don’t make us holy, and if they make people uncomfortable or becomes a stumbling block, we need to be aware of it, and just be real. I very much love these mini-messages of being relevant and real.

This story was a sort of an opposites attract type story, but both Asher and Katie had issues. I loved the struggles portrayed from both the lifer-church-attendee, and from someone completely…opposite. It was nice to see the story bring together both stories and the love and truth and healing that came through in different ways.

Of course, I love to see real romance, love and passion coming out in a Christian novel that feel much the same as my own relationship with my husband. I love that Tammy L. Gray does not shy away from passion, but embraces it.

Not So Much: While both Asher and Katie both have their own healing, I felt like this was more Katie’s story. I’m pretty sure this was the intention actually, but I was also interested in seeing more of Asher’s process as well. There was a reconciliation and forgiveness, but I felt like at the beginning of the book he was dealing with many internal struggles that seemed to clear up with a simple lecture from his Dad. I would have loved to have seen it flushed out just a bit more.

At times I did feel like the book was a little long. At some point I kind of felt that Katie’s devastation was abundantly clear and was ready to proceed forward with the story. All these things did happen, it just took a bit longer than I felt was necessary.

The Verdict: I know that there are many of my readers who won’t consider this book because I’ve openly reveal how it’s Christian in nature. That is fine. I do think that this was a very beautiful piece of written art and is perfect for any Christ-Follower who prefer books based on Christians rather than not. I also think anyone who likes clean-reads would love this book as well, regardless of their beliefs. I highly recommend this author because she writes great books of struggle and reconciliation, and of hope.

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