Friday, December 14, 2012

My Stubborn Heart

In My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade, we meet Kate Donovan, a fiery woman looking for love, yet falling short every time. Her dating life is a wreck, and the job she once loved is crushing her spirits. When her grandmother asks her to travel from Texas to small town Redbud, Pennsylvania, to renovate the family home she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance for a change of pace. Approved for three months off work, she packs up and hits the road.

Kate's grandmother, lovingly referred to as "Gran" in the story, has hired a local contractor, Matt Jarreau, to handle the renovations. Upon meeting Matt for the first time, Kate is drawn to his good looks, but there is something else about him that mesmerizes and confuses her at the same time. He's brooding, quiet and unreachable. Matt is hiding from his past and determined not to repeat any mistakes, so he prefers to keep to himself and shut out the world. Stubborn and determined, Kate won't take no for an answer though, and in the beginning is almost annoying at her perky attempt to make conversation.

Yes, it's a romance novel, and as always, the ending was fairly predictable.  However...I don't read romance "smut" so when I picked up this book under the precept that it was Christian fiction, I was a little surprised at what I found. None of the characters had foul mouths, but there was still some course language I found inappropriate.  I would be wary of letting younger audiences read this, for this reason.

The characters were likable and the story (aside from girl meets brooding guy) was fresh. The story offered more with Gran and her senior friends, the antiquing and the household renovations. The story unfolded nicely, and there were times I felt the emotion between the two running deep. Kate knows she's only in town for a few months, so she keeps reminding herself that Matt is just a friend, but as she finally starts to break down his barriers, she wonders if there could be something more. I think almost everyone has had a "summer love" and knows the feeling the two face as their friendship tries to become more. However, there's an underlying message that God puts us where he wants us, when he wants us, and only for his time.

There are also some notable downsides to this book.  There is a heavy focus on body image and physical attributes.  The words hot and hottie were extremely overused.  Not just by one character either.  They all used the word, every time they looked at a handsome, good looking, attractive (I can come up with more synonyms if necessary) person.  I quickly became annoyed at the fashion statement the author was making, whether purposely or not.  Every time someone walked into the room we had to read about the brand, color and style of their clothing, or which catalog they stepped of that day.

Other distractions were the friend who acted like her children were burdensome monsters. I don't know about other moms reading this book, but I felt like she was really down on her young children. There is gambling--the seniors had Friday night poker, which to me came across more as a casual bingo night than hard, addictive gambling, but could be offensive to others. The scene with the alcohol did catch me by surprise, but I also have to remember that person was not a practicing Christian.  

This is a much longer book review than I would normally write, but I felt like conservative readers should know what's in the book. I was able to read it in one day when I wasn't feeling well, but I'm not sure I can recommend it to very many people. I liked the story enough to consider another of Becky Wade's books, but if they all carry the same tone of language, body image and fashion statements, it would be my last.

Please note:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

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