Once again, I have discovered how much I enjoy contemporary romance. (And yes, I kind of cringe saying that.) But I think I have a wrong idea of what contemporary romance is, because this book totally blew my assumptions out of the water!
Characters: Lauren was such a realistic, believable character throughout the entire book. She was a teacher (already so much good stuff going on there!), and watching her work through her deepest longings was really beautiful. She seemed like a real person – she failed, she cried, she laughed and rejoiced. And of course, Joshua Avery, the love interest. Okay, can I just say this guy was the perfect boyfriend for her? He was such a nerd, but he was such a great guy. He didn’t let weird little things get in the way of their relationship (so many romance books have plots where one little unnecessary, improbable spat ruins everything), and he was so persistent yet not creepy with her. He didn’t have a POV, which may have contributed to why he seemed so perfect. (And I love flawed characters, but he pulled off the being perfect quite well.) And of course, the other characters were so sweet, especially Gail.
Plot/Romance: The basic plot entailed Lauren’s quest to adopt a child as a single woman. (I kind of struggled with this throughout the book, because I believe the Lord created families to have a mother and a father. Obviously, this doesn’t always happen in a perfect world, and God gives grace to those parents who end up having to raise their kids alone. However, Lauren didn’t have to raise a child on her own. She hadn’t been widowed or divorced or put through some other really difficult situation. She was going out of her way to adopt a kid to raise on her own. To me, this just seemed a little strange, and not the best situation for a child. But there are so many orphans out there who need loving, supportive homes, and a single parent is far better than the place they’re currently at. So … all of that to say, I was conflicted on this throughout the story.) Anyway. That sounds like a super simple plot, but it didn’t drag. There was drama with Lauren’s adopting plans, family problems, character development, and of course, the romance. Thankfully, this romance was quite clean. Just a couple kisses here or there, though I will mention for some readers that Lauren and Joshua were alone at night and being pretty cozy. Nothing happened, though, so it didn’t bother me overmuch.
Writing Style: Nicole Deese’s writing styles works perfectly in this genre. I love how real her books read. It feels like it could be someone’s life! All of the little details she adds in through every scene just make you feel like you’re right there. There was one instance, though, of a cuss word that was cut off halfway. I was pretty disappointed to see that, because even though the word was cut off, it was clear what the character was saying. Definitely unnecessary.
Moral/Theme: The concept of family was a pretty big part of this book, obviously, with Lauren’s adoption aspirations as well as drama with her family. I really loved watching Lauren’s commitment to her adopted daughter even if it meant Lauren had to suffer through difficulties herself. It was such a beautiful picture of sacrificial love. However, although there was prayer and mentions of going to church, there wasn’t a clear explanation of the Gospel, and I felt like the author teetered a bit on the Catholic side of things. (Mainly a mention of Mary having a “divine gaze” or something along those lines.) In general, this book would have been better if it would’ve had more Jesus. But alas, there were still lovely moments, and I loved Gail’s words about waiting and God having a plan even when we can’t see what’s going on.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a contemporary romance with real-life struggles, you’ve found your next read. And in the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for this author’s next book!