Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2012
Genre: Fiction, Christian
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5
The Story: Unhappy with her life as it stands now, thirty-something Kate Donovan decides to travel with her grandmother from their home in Dallas to Redbud Pennsylvania to restore gran’s ancestral home. Following some heartbreaking cases in her work as a social worker, Kate is ready for a break – and she is realizing that despite two “serious” relationships, she is still seeking “Mr. Right.” Is God telling her that there is no one “right” for her? Or did she miss her chance at happy-ever-after?
Matt Jarreau is broken. Once a popular, decorated hockey star, Matt walked away from the spotlight following his wife’s tragic and painful death. Now he is returned from the city lights of New York to his small hometown of Redbud. Working as a contractor, he is a hermit who likes his “space.” That is all about to change. Matt is hired by Beverly to see her family home put back to rights. He quickly realizes that he cannot shake Kate so easily – her bubbly personality is persistent and she doesn’t take silence as an answer to his not wanting to be bothered.
Will Kate’s stubborn heart break Matt’s cynical one? Or will the two of them never realize what they have is more than friendship?
My Thoughts: I am the sort of reader who usually is willing to try a book even if it has an unfamiliar name emblazed across the cover. That was my motivation in taking a keen interest in this novel – I saw the cute cover (that usually is what draws your eye), read the synopsis, and thought, “it sounds good.” Debut author Becky Wade did indeed create a sweet, engaging romance that is not just a romance but also an affectionate piece of writing that blends a fairy-tale (of sorts – not in the “traditional” sense) with realism perfectly. In my humble opinion, there is a fine line in crafting that balance but it seems to be something that I crave in authors – and Wade captures it skillfully.
In more depth, here are the things I loved, and those I wish had been handled differently.
- The characters; I just loved Wade’s leading couple. By definition, they are “ordinary,” and by that, I mean they are “real.” Both are likable but flawed human beings who we could easily imagine being friends with. Matt’s broken past might remind readers of a favorite literary man. His good looks and brooding manners aren’t all that make us fall in love with him (but it isn’t a hindrance, either *wink*), his protectiveness and eventual redemption are what makes him an admirable, good man. Kate likewise isn’t hard to like. She is quirky but loveable – and is a woman we long to see take her happy ending.
- Wade is definitely a “fresh” voice in the Christian fiction scene, and overall, I loved her style. The prologue and epilogue were unique to the books I’ve read previously and it was refreshing way to start a novel while creating a different perspective than the typical he/she switch off of the character’s mindset.
- The pacing is fabulous. I loved what Wade did within these pages – and by that, the characters. For once, I was delighted that an author took care with the budding romance. Although Kate is immediately attracted to Matt, there is no “love at first sight,” instead the characters grow individually and together as friends – nothing more. Their friendship was solid long before they saw themselves as romantic counterparts.
- The fact that nothing resembling even a hint of a “mystery” enters this novel’s pages was a fabulous “change.” A lot of books that aren’t even categorized as “suspense” usually draw from something that has potential to ruin the happy-ever-after in the last push to the end. This book did not. I am a fan of a good thriller but in novels like this, it rarely works really well.
- Most of the book is witty and I love the humor but… periodically – and for lack of a better word, it was bordering on the edge of crude. It isn’t to the point of making the reader drop their jaw at what you are reading in a Christian novel (not by a long shot) but it was… awkward.
- Kate’s bemoaning of her love life. It is more in the opening and nearer the end when prospects look grim but I grew a bit tired of the moping she did and attitude she had about not being married or in a serious relationship. Perhaps it is “realistic” and girls do ponder it to that extent but I found it… tiresome. Fortunately, it doesn’t linger long.
Did you or would you read this novel? What were your impressions of this story? Comment below, readers. Find out what fellow reviewers thought about My Stubborn Heart.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing this copy for reviewing purposes