One of the things I love best about Becky Wade's books is the honest way she writes. Numerous times I caught myself blushing and thinking - I can't believe she said that! This one is no exception!
Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.There is so much to say about this lovely book. In my mind it reaches out to so many different reader-types. But before we dig too deep I have to say I love the cover! And then I read the Prologue and loved it!! Favorite line that only makes full sense in context of the entire story : "That was his job, to keep her safe. And that's what he would do. She was his favorite person."
When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.
Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?
Now ... let's get to the (really) good stuff.
First of all it is a story of love, hope and redemption. Jake Porter is one wounded guy! And he has pretty much committed his life to staying away from people, happiness and God. Horses he can deal with. Everything else- including his loving family- should be treated with much caution. I have to admit I am a sucker for a wounded soul. Especially when that wounded soul is on God's radar and He isn't backing down. This part of the plot was fantastic. Wade delves deep into the issue of PTSD and what war has done to so many fine young men. At one point in the story, the heroine's mother, a counsellor, tells Lyndie that Jake's condition isn't curable. But that doesn't stop God (and Becky Wade) from infusing hope into every crevice possible. Loved it!
Next, this story is a romance. Whoa! Cover your eyes ... or ears ... or don't. But be prepared for some spice. I can remember being a tad shocked reading Wade's first book My Stubborn Heart when the main characters started commenting on her "boobs". Can you say that in Christian Fiction? Yet in context of the story it felt real and very life-like. So I moved on.
Now, after several more Wade stories under my belt I still love the authenticity and realness she gives her stories and characters. But I was also caught off guard with her latest shocker. "Bedroom eyes" Will. A secondary character who I'm hoping will be the main character in the future. As you can tell by now, I read almost exclusively Christian Fiction. (Otherwise those words wouldn't snag me.) So, this is my one warning to potential readers. There is no explicit information in this book, nor did I find it uncomfortable or inappropriate. However, if there is a line in the sand for you on what you want (or don't want) in your fiction, be aware. Becky Wade is wonderful at bringing to life a fact of romantic life that sometimes is overlooked in Christian fiction. Passion and attraction are real and there is a way to write it with modesty and truth. (And spice!) Fans of Julie Lessman will know what I mean here. If there was an award for kissing scenes - I'd give it to Becky Wade ... or Jake Porter ("Tall, Dark and Brooding"), however you want to see that one. Phew! Moving on ...
Next this story tackles the issue of disabilities and gifts. There is a sweet sub-plot moving throughout the story that adds such depth and character to the main story line. And I love how Wade made this thread work on both sides of the characters and mirror the main plot. Fantastic!
First we have Mollie, Lyndie's younger sister who is non-verbal and blind suffering with cerebral palsy. But Lyndie believes God gave her sister the power to heal others. Then we also have the horse, Silver Leaf, a horse with potential that only a few can see. This raises the complex topic of God's grace and His healing hand. Why would God not heal Mollie, but use her to heal others? And why would a horse that can't or won't win any horse races be useful to anyone? And why would God take a broken, wounded man and bless him with an optimistic, life-breathing woman that won't give up?
There are so many more aspects to this book but I realized how long this blog post has gotten already.
Bottom line: this is an interesting, thought-provoking, heart-stirring and blood-pumping good novel. Go get yourself a copy. If you're not sure yet, Becky Wade has provided a free excerpt on her website. And on YouTube Becky Wade talks about her book and giving some background to the writing process.
And just for fun - a perfect fit for the soundtrack: Sticking with You by Addison Road. Check it out.
Be sure to check out the other books in this series, Undeniably Yours and Meant to be Mine.
Thanks to Bethany House and Baker Publishing for a chance to review this book. I received a free copy in exchange for my opinion. I am not required to rate it positively.