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One for the Keeper Shelf!
As I curled up in my favorite chair on Super Bowl Sunday to read (instead of watching the big game), I thought I knew what to expect when I cracked open "A Dad of His Own" by Gail Gaymer Martin. I'm a fan of the Love Inspired line by Steeple Hill and Mrs. Martin is one of their finest authors. I settled in to read for a few minutes at a time as I fixed supper. I prepared myself for the usual mix of a some guilt-free romance, a little laughter, a lesson in faith, and of course a happy ending. A couple of hours later I fond myself thoroughly surprised-and without supper-as I'd read straight through the novel. "A Dad of His Own" delivers all the ingredients of a Love Inspired novel. But this story tackles a subject uncommon to the romance genre: cancer. The story revolves around Cooper Carlson, a fatherless boy who is battling leukemia. He has one wish-for Ethan Fox to be his dad. It's Ethan's business to grant wishes through his Dreams Come True foundation. Ethan finds it easy to spend time with the lovable Cooper and single mom Lexie. But Lexie is reluctant to risk her son's heart and her own to a man whose job it is to turn wishes into reality. Mrs. Martin doesn't take the easy way out by tying up the plot in the expected way. She takes the time to deepen the story, building the characters into people I was rooting for. Lexi isn't just another cookie cutter romance heroine. While single mothers are often at the heart of inspirational romances, Lexie's background as a never-married mother, is one that is rarely explored. Mrs. Martin handles Lexie's past with realism and grace. Cooper, despite his physical ailments, has a strong spirit and a child-like faith that is unshakable. Ethan is the hero I've come to expect from inspirational romances. His Christian faith and devotion to family makes him all the more attractive. It's evident that Mrs. Martin is a mature Christian who seeks to glorify God through her novels. This story doesn't add a last-minute dash of God into the plot as a way to rework the traditional romance recipe for the Christian market. Readers who are looking for more love and less Sunday School lesson won't be turned away by the faith element. There are no trite sermonettes; just a genuine exploration of a woman looking to heal her son and her past. The ending was more than satisfying. Mrs. Martin's talent for storytelling adds spice-making this book one for the keeper shelf. Though Mrs. Martin left me hungry for future books that will hopefully feature some of the supporting characters in search of a happily ever after of their own.
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