Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Wedding Chapel - Rachel Hauck

Title:   The Wedding Chapel 
Author:            Rachel Hauck
Publisher:        Zondervan
Market:           Christian
Genre:             Christian Fiction; Christian Romance
Length:            384 pages
Pub. Date:       November 17, 2015

Description (from Amazon):
An old, forgotten chapel holds the key to love and forgiveness.

Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—building a wedding chapel for Collette Greer, the woman he fell in love with in 1949. But now a realtor wants the land the chapel sits on, and he sees no reason to hang onto the past.

Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s string of failed marriages. When she falls head-over-heels for Jack Gillingham, a top ad man, their whirlwind romance and elopement leave her with doubts. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to find the right way to show her he really cares.

When a post-mortem letter from Taylor’s Granny Peg shows up, along with an old photo, she is driven to uncover family secrets and the secret to her own happiness, starting with an assignment to photograph an unknown, obscure wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend.

Taylor begins a mission to convince Jimmy that the chapel is worth saving—and that forgiveness and healing might happen within the chapel’s walls . . . for both of them.

My Review:

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

I requested this book because I have read and enjoyed several of the author’s books previously.  So when I saw she was releasing a new one, I started stalking NetGalley until it was available.  I went into the reading expecting a sweet romance on the lighter side.  While that’s not what I received, I wasn’t disappointed.

This book has more depth and tackles weightier topics than the others I had read by Hauck.  The narrative travels back and forth between present day and the generation past.  Telling the stories of newlyweds, lost love, family dysfunction, and lies alongside first love, hope, and redemption.  The romance was realistically handled in all relationships. 

The characters were decently developed.  Their actions were a bit more predictable than I like, but I did still feel like I could connect with them and understand their motivations.  The narrative is told from multiple points of view.  So it was a very well-rounded tale.

I was confused at the start of the book and was sometimes startled out of the story by a switch in time and point of view.  However, once I got into it the pacing was great; I had no issues following the flow.  There was a lot of conflict in this book – both internally and between the characters.  The conflict and the processing of it is what moved the story along. 

There were several grammatical errors and issues.  Those grated on my nerves.  However, I’m hoping and assuming they were fixed between the Advanced Reader Copy and the final book printing. 

My other slight gripe was the heavy spiritual content towards the end of the book.  The God content and spirituality was there throughout.  But more as another character and in an incorporated way for most of the book.  However, towards the end it got a bit preachy.  Which, I realize that sometimes in our lives we just need to hear the Word clear and straight.  So it’s only a minor complaint that it didn’t all stay smoothly integrated.

While I don’t think there is any graphic content, there are some trigger topics for sensitive readers:  premarital sex and infidelity being two of the larger ones. 

I think this book appeals to women who like books about complicated relationships but still enjoy a happy ending.  I certainly enjoyed the reading of it.

***This review is also posted on The Christian Manifesto

·       Interweaving of various stories past and present
·       Interesting characters
·       Dealt with delicate topics in an appropriate way
·       Predictable
·       Spiritually heavy handed towards the end
·       Wanted more from the ending

My Rating:      3.5 out of 5 (Good)

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