Katie Ganshert's novel is a beautiful story of redemption. Brought into the modeling industry by age 14, all Ivy Clark knows is that her feelings, dreams, and sufferings do not matter - only her appearance matters, and with that lovely shell she can get anything. Anything, that is, except the love and healing her soul craves. After losing a renewal contract, suddenly Ivy is verging on too old to get any more good modeling contracts. Desperate, she accepts her stepmother's request to model for her bridal shop, putting her in contact with Davis, her step-cousin. Davis swore to give up photography after a tragedy during his stint in the fashion industry, but his aunt's plea and promise of supporting a specific charity make him drag out his old equipment and work with Ivy. Though she hides it well, Davis sees a hint of that broken girl behind the beautiful shell, and realizes maybe God wants him there to draw her out. But will Ivy turn to the true Father who loves her like no earthly man ever could?
Considering that Ivy starts out as rather unpleasant, seductive, and prone to
drink, I found it impressive how the author was able to make her if not
particularly likeable, at least not unlikeable - a character still able
to tug at one's heart. Ganshert does an excellent job finding that balance between making Ivy a product of the modeling industry - not what one would call a nice girl - and still a sympathetic heroine.
While Ivy's theme of redemption was moving, I found I connected more with Davis and his struggles with forgiveness. He knows God has forgiven him for his poor choices, and his sister has long since forgiven him, but when it comes to forgiving himself, he cannot get past it. I like the point made through Ivy - if God has forgiven him, why isn't he living like it? What kind of testimony is that, to be a captive of guilt when God came to set the captives free? Davis is a clear example of how guilt is used as a snare to render Christians ineffective.
Besides Ivy and Davis, Ivy's stepmother Marilyn and Davis' sister Sarah both have struggles with which many can connect - barrenness, brokenness, being unloved, feeling unworthy, physical injuries, desperation. While all the characters have more than sufficient troubles, their burdens are not overwhelming, but rather uplifting - God is working in each of them, and fruits of their labor and trust, even though in some cases many years coming, are evident.
This is a well-written novel - it has an interesting plot, but more importantly it makes one contemplate how God is pursuing us - He woos us all in different ways, just as he does the characters of Ganshert's novel. It is also the winner of the 2015 Christy Awards in contemporary romance category.
Thank you Blogging for Books for a free copy of the novel for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.