Paperback, 352 pagesISBN 0764209744 (ISBN13: 9780764209741)
Published May 1st 2012 by Bethany House
Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man her grandmother has hired to renovate the house. From the first moment she meets Matt, Kate can't help but be attracted to him--he's got a combination of good looks and charisma that draw and tug at her. But she knows there's zero chance of a romance between them. Matt's in love with his dead wife, and even if he weren't, Kate realizes that she's way too ordinary for him. For Matt Jarreau is no ordinary guy. Kate discovers that he was once a great NHL hockey player who left the sport when his wife--an honest-to-goodness former Miss America--was diagnosed with brain cancer. Matt's been hiding from people, from God, and from his past ever since. Yet Kate is absolutely determined to befriend him, to try to reach him, to help him in some small way. No, Kate's not looking for love. She knows better than that by now. But when the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?
I really loved this book. Right up to the point where the characters begin to presume--on faith alone--to know what is in God's mind. As a Christian romance, I expected the novel to be inspirational, and it was. I expected it to be "clean" and it was. I expected a message about God having plans for us that we don't always see or understand and the novel did have that as well. And I accept all of that because God carries us through the most awful of times. I truly believe that.
But I took serious issue with His hand separating Matt and Kate, even for a short period of time, because His hand in that was only Kate's perception of His hand. It was her point of view alone that God wanted her apart from Matt so he could return to hockey, the thing he'd wrongly left undone. And she does realize that and again, sees God's hand in her misunderstanding--as a lack of faith on her part in God. I cannot understand or accept that she and Matt couldn't find a way for him to return to hockey and be together. Doesn't love make us stronger? Shouldn't her love and support have helped Matt in this? I understand that the timing was wrong, just slightly because Matt had some unresolved issues with hockey to work through, but I don't really accept that it wasn't something he couldn't have sorted out with Kate by his side.
Here's my point of view on Kate and Matt's happily ever after: She only got Matt back because he was stubborn enough and so deeply in love with her that he refused to let her go. Otherwise, she have lost him altogether. No one puts up with the kind of mixed messages and rejection she dealt out unless they believe in the power of their love. Luckily Matt believed in their love, and loved her enough to disregard her wishes and just go and see her in Dallas. That's how this couple got together. Because Matt loved Kate. And he wasn't going to give up Kate without a fight. His love was unconditional. Way to go Matt!
Kate, on the other hand, I consider plain damn lucky. Cuz throwing away love like that with both hands is stupid. So stupid. A slap in the face of God if I may say so. I'm guess I'm lacking in the Christian framework of faith that this novel was established on. Because for me, it didn't fly.
But here's the thing everyone. The novel was truly beautiful. So moving that at times it made me cry. Really, really cry. The characters are vibrant and funny, and Wade lets us see just enough of Matt and Kate's thoughts and feelings to get inside their heads without telling their thoughts and feelings. So it's more show than tell, and for me that is very important. And it makes Wade a great author. The romance is sweet and the lack of sex scenes is refreshing. It really was a very romantic, sweet read. Light and sparkling...but for me, it lost a little magic near the end while Matt and Kate were apart because God wanted them to be, according to Kate. Timing really might be everything in a relationship, but so is faith in the power of love. If you don't believe that love will make you stronger, help you face the darkest hours, then what's the point? While Matt had that faith, that their love was true and real, Kate didn't seem to. She put herself down too much in my opinion. I'm really glad they got a happily ever after, but Kate's lack of faith in their love for one another took some of the shine off of this read for me.
But today had reminded him there was good in it, too. There was beauty here and there was still kindness and maybe...maybe there was even still hope.
"I'll miss you." It slipped out before he could stop it.
3 glittering stars