Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Justified (Mended Hearts #2) - Varina Denman

Justified (Mended Hearts, #2)
Publisher:        David C. Cook

Market:            Christian

Genre:             Contemporary Fiction

Series:              Mended Hearts #2

Length:            416 pages

Pub. Date:       June 1, 2015

Description (from Amazon):

In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.


My Review:

I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy via the publisher at NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book.  I received an email from the editor at The Christian Manifesto asking for a reviewer.  After looking at the description, it sounded like a book that would interest me; so I took on the assignment.  In hindsight, the description is deeper than the book itself.

I had a lot of issues with this book.

The book was written in first person from Fawn’s perspective alternating with third person somewhat omniscient from Tyler and JohnScott’s perspectives.

Can we just pause here for a moment and say how much I hated pretty much every character’s name?  Okay, small nitpick done.

Fawn is spoiled and whiney.  One of her main focuses being to get back into her pre-pregnancy designer clothes.  Tyler and JohnScott are both more caricatures than realistic characters.  The rest of the supporting characters really don’t seem to have much to them.  They are really more plot devices, coming in to play their part and then stepping out, than a part of the ongoing story.  I didn’t feel that any of the characters were more than one-dimensional or grew as the story progressed. 

The dialogue was hard to follow and jumped around from topic to topic before circling back around.  The characters also belabored their introspection. 

I really didn’t get a grasp of the small town feel that is mentioned in the description.  The characters are going back and forth between bigger Texas cities a lot.  There really is not a lot of gossip or condemnation (other than self) for Fawn to deal with.  A lot of it seems to be in her head. 

The romantic relating…wasn’t.  I felt like a lot of the interactions were cheesy or over the top.  I didn’t really care if anyone got together or had a happily ever after.

As far as spiritual elements to the story, it seems like Fawn tries to have some sort of spiritual revelation of her worth and her forgiveness.  However, it just missed the mark for me.  There was not a lot about redemption or justification aside from a few conversations Fawn and JohnScott have.  The majority of the people who are nice to Fawn are non-Christians.  The church people who are supposedly condemning her just simply aren’t mentioned much (other than throwing her a baby shower.

Aside from those overarching issues, there were so many minor things that just didn’t make sense.  For instance, when a character drank some water and its wetness “washed the soot of bitterness from her lungs.”  What?!?  Hopefully the water she drank didn’t get into her lungs.  That can be deadly.  Then you have Tyler being able to observe nuances of actions and facial expressions from Fawn’s parents across the street in their car from where he was sitting in his truck (although the text had previously said he’d driven off).  Fawn states that JohnScott was at fault along with her for an altercation she has with Tyler at a football game.  Nowhere does the text support that JohnScott has any guilt to hold in that. 

There were also smaller inconsistencies.  The pastor walking to the front of the church then all of a sudden in the back with other characters.  Fawn thinking about the football game and then the text saying by the time she got home she had already pushed the game far from her mind.  Later she goes to one of JohnScott’s football games with the rationalization that going will put him out of her mind.  Other inconsistencies or head scratching incidents would include spoilers but suffice it to say there were plenty.

Then there was just wrong information like when Fawn’s doctor said the lotion she used interfered with hearing her baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler.  To my knowledge (and Google research), there is no lotion that interferes in that way.  Also, Fawn was pregnant for longer than the normal 9 months, clearly had no idea she was in labor, and was able to birth her baby in two pushes.

I’m a detailed person and so while I can handle an inconsistency or two with grace, a book full of them can send me over the edge – as this one did. 

There are some edgier topics covered – premarital sex, physical abuse, drinking, etc.  None are really written about in an offensive way though.  It is a pretty safe book for all audiences.

In conclusion, had this not been a review book I would have quit reading long before the predictable, anticlimactic end.

***This review also appears on The Christian Manifesto and Goodreads


Cons:  full of inconsistencies; stereotypical characters;

My Rating:  0.5 out of 5 (waste of time)


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