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Friday, October 14, 2016

Forgiveness by Marriane Evans

This week, I want to give my review of a couple of really good books that you should check out.

The first is Forgiveness, by Mariane Evans. Here's a blurb about her book:

Country music bad boy, Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction and transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up-and-comer, Pyper Brock and instantly sparks ignite. Despite her rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation and soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. No way will Pyper make the mistake of falling for a man whose done battle with the bottle. What happens when Chase’s quest to win Pyper’s love breaks down chains of resentment and eases the long-buried wounds of her childhood? And what happens when Pyper’s father shows up in Nashville, clean, sober and seeking a chance to apologize? Can Pyper follow a pathway to peace when it comes to her father? Can she fully trust Chase? Above all, can a sin-damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness?

First, a little lesson on forgiveness and why it's so hard.

Forgiveness is a tough action for most humans. It doesn't come naturally, as we have a tendency to hold on to grudges. If we've been mistreated in any way, our natural psychological response is to protect ourselves from further mistreatment. Even from people who haven't hurt us yet. 

How do we do this?

It actually has a lot to do with type-casting/stereotyping. An example is the best way to get this point across. We're in a grocery store and we see a mom talking harshly to her child as they are checking out. We don't know what the situation is, whether the woman is a single mom at her wits end or just mean.

But what our brains tell us is that this mom is talking to her child just like this other mom we know...maybe our own. We might remember what it felt like to be in tears, only to have your mother, who is supposed to comfort you, tell you that she'll "give you something to cry about."

We immediately associate this mom in front of us in the checkout line with the mom of our past.

And BAM. We put up walls against this mother. We hold a grudge to protect ourselves. We might even crusade on behalf of the little girl, to save her from a fate as bad as our own. Anything not to face the music of our own traumatic past.

Marianne's book delves into this exact type thing. I loved the premise...forgiveness is something everyone struggles with. All walks of life, all classes of people. First impressions are sometimes so damaging that you don't get a chance for a second one. Traumatic experiences can color everything following them. This book is about overcoming all of that...which is hard!

Famous people have an even rougher road. When your life is in the public eye, and everything you do is under scrutiny, the pressure is immense. The very public nature of Chase's downfall and subsequent belief in Christ leaves him open and vulnerable to attack, from Christians and non-Christians alike. He has to wrestle with forgiving himself for his own sins. Pyper has to wrestle with forgiving the sins against her, as well as her own sins against others in the form of being unwilling to forgive. It's a tricky balance to achieve, but with Christ, all things are possible. 

This is the hope of Marianne's book, and my hope is that you'll give it a shot. The romance between Chase and Pyper won't make you regret it. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Love Everlasting...Julie Lessman at Her Finest!

Whenever a new Julie Lessman book comes out, I'm stoked. She's one of those authors who I will always pick up. I've read everyone of her books, and each time I finish, I set it down with a satisfied sigh. 

I want to give my review of her latest, in hopes that it'll do the same for you.

He sets hearts on fire.
She’s been burned by love.
Can hope survive the flames of the past?

School teacher by day, ghostwriter by night, sweet and shy Shannon O’Bryen doesn’t mind writing romance on the sly, but to live it? No, thank you, not since the man she loved turned out to be a player who broke both her heart and her spirit. Now focused more on her faith and her fiction, she vows the next time she falls in love, it will be safely—through the pages of a book.

Dr. Sam Cunningham is a charismatic player who breaks hearts as regularly as he washes his pearl-white Corvette. Abandoned as a baby, Sam was an orphan shuffled through the foster-care system, bitterly driven to prove he is worthy of love—the kind that lasts forever. Once he learns Shannon is a romance writer, he enlists her help in winning back his ex-girlfriend. She teaches him about faith and the true definition of love, and he soon discovers he’s been seeking it in the wrong place all along—and with the wrong girl. But can he convince a woman who's been burned by love to open her eyes—and her heart—to a love everlasting?

Julie's book is a fresh take on a tale as old as time...the bad boy and the good girl. There are always obstacles for this type of love, and Julie's got those in groves. But you gotta love it when you're surprised as those obstacles unfold. A Lessman book is never a foregone conclusion. 

As always, Julie's heroes are just as swoon-worthy as they are flawed. The hope that is thematic in her latest series is so impactful, because through her stories, you see how God still has a purpose for flawed people....a beautiful plan for each and everyone of us. No one is beyond redemption and reconciliation.

And as is signature for Julie, there are two things she doesn't shy away from:

1) Passion: Um...hello....let's be honest. We love this. The love between a married couple is sacred, not staid. Thank you Lord! And the struggle to remain pure between unmarried people is real. (Is it ever!)

2) Big Issues: Often these are only grazed upon, if not completely absent, from a lot Christian fiction. But not to Julie. To me, this makes her books more real--and more valuable, not only for Christian readers, but also to non-believers. 

You won't be sorry to read one of Julie's books. Just be warned...once you pick one up, you'll be immersed in the world she spins. You can find excerpts of her Daughters of Boston series, Winds of Change series, or Heart of San Francisco series here.

Thanks, Julie, for another great read. You never disappoint. :)