A few magic days in Las Vegas land Ty Porter and Celia Park in a wedding chapel, madly in love and forever committed - until Celia wakes up the next morning and learns she was just a fling after a spat between Ty and the woman he loves. Disillusioned, she returns to Oregon and he to Texas, both hurt but neither getting around to filing for the divorce. Five years later, Ty is ready for forgiveness and hoping to finally marry his love Tawny, so he tracks Celia down, only to discover the surprise she kept from him - a precocious daughter named Addie. Fatherhood changes Ty's plans and desires, and he wants them near him. However, Celia is hardly ready to forgive him; she can scarcely trust him with her child, let alone risk her heart to him once more. Besides, even if she did feel something for him again, he is still waiting on Tawny to break up with her latest boyfriend and marry him. But what if God has different plans, plans that would heal hearts and bring old dreams to fruition?
While contemporary romances do not tend to land very high on my list of reading material, this novel impressed me with its solid story line. The characters and their relationships are well-developed, and they are likeable - imperfect, but enjoyable to meet. There is no unexpected danger or evil plot to drive them apart - just the two of them working through their hurts and reestablishing a relationship of sorts for the sake of their daughter. In a time when divorce seems so common, it is encouraging to read - even if it is fiction - about couples who go the extra mile [or ten] to work through their struggles.
I wasn't too sure about Ty initially - his extravagant displays of love seem almost like bribery until one takes into account his slightly overblown personality; everything about him is big and showy. His wealth is what he has to share, and by using it he can show support - even if it is generally behind Celia's too-proud-to-ask-for-help back. Most of all, he does it out of a giving heart, not to buy their love. His five years of quiet penance, living under a mantle of guilt and self-unforgiveness, adds a layer of genuineness to his showboat personality.
Just as Ty and Celia's relationship takes a lot of time and work to get back on track, so does their relationship with God. I love the parallels between the two; as Celia starts opening her heart a smidgeon to Ty again, so she also starts opening her heart again to God. It is slow going, and realizing she made some mistakes too makes for a difficult journey (in both relationships), but both are beautiful tales of reconciliation.
This is not the sort of book where the ending - the destination - is the most important part; it is the journey to that destination that makes it so worthwhile. A touching, engrossing read - 5 out of 5 stars!
Thank you Bethany House and NetGalley for a free e-copy of the novel to review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
Porter Family Novels
1. Undeniably Yours
2. Meant to Be Mine
3. A Love Like Ours
4. Her One and Only