After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back homea quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on worksomething her eclectic family doesn’t understand.Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all alongif only she’d just look up.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Matilda Novak is a voice talent and audiobook narrator.
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Just Look Up
By Courtney Walsh, Danika King
Tyndale House PublishersCopyright © 2017 Courtney Walsh
All rights reserved.
Lane Kelley rested her hand on her knee, willing it to stop bouncing. She watched from behind her desk as Marshall ushered the client — a young guy in jeans who appeared to be valiantly attempting a goatee, albeit unsuccessfully — through the glass doors of the conference room at JB Sweet & Associates, the interior design firm where she worked as one of many designers.
You can do this. It's what you've been working for.
The chance of a lifetime.
That's what Marshall had called it — the chance of a lifetime. "You're one of five people in the company who will get to be part of this project, Lane. The higher-ups are watching. This is huge. You're not going to get an opportunity like this again. "
She understood. She'd been pursuing this since she started at the design firm seven years ago as part of her senior seminar at Northwestern. She hadn't expected to stay here this long, but she quickly found a home at JB Sweet, and she was good at what she did.
The last seven years had gone by in a blur, leaving Lane with half-remembered moments of creating branded environments for new and established companies by using her artistic abilities and her love of interior design. Her college internship had turned into a career — one that afforded her a luxury loft in the city, a shared personal assistant, and now the chance to become the next creative director at JB Sweet.
Chloe welcomed the goatee guy — Ashton — and the rest of the team from Solar into the meeting room and flashed Lane her trademark oh-my-goodness eyes. Chloe understood, more than anyone, what this meeting meant to Lane. In some ways, this would be their promotion. After all, if Lane did get the position, she'd already promised that her first request would be for Chloe to move up with her.
Chloe gave Lane one more knowing nod as she passed by again, and Lane actually considered pinching herself.
This was the moment she'd been dreaming of — a chance to win over the execs at Solar, to convince them that yes, they very much should give JB Sweet & Associates the honor of designing and branding their new business space, because yes, she and her team would work round the clock to make sure the branded space would reflect Solar's unique, casual-yet-trendy style.
"They love our aesthetic," Marshall had told her. "I mean, bring your A game, but expect good things. According to Ashton, the whole team is leaning our way. "
And that was before her pitch. All she had to do was not mess it up.
She'd run through her presentation well into the wee hours of the morning, starting in on the caffeine around 4 a.m. She was ready. Excited, if a little jittery. Her designs were great. She could do this. She could wow them.
And yet, thinking of it now, she felt rocking-on-a-boat-inchoppy-waters sick. She'd never had a chance this big in her life.
Don't mess this up, Lane.
The rest of the executives from Solar, a tech company in the Forbes top ten last year, filed past. They shook hands with Marshall and the others from her team as they walked through the door. But not Lane. She was still at her desk, busy trying not to throw up.
Stay in control. These guys have no idea that your nerves are taking you out to the woodshed. No one can make you feel inferior in this arena. This isn't high school. This is where you shine.
The guys from Solar — she could only call them "guys" because not a single one of them actually looked like a man — all resembled their fearless leader, Ashton, aka Mr. Wanna Goatee. Jeans, hoodies, Converse One Stars. No suits for this company. Somehow she found that more intimidating, not less. After all, she'd never been the trendy type.
She shoved aside the unwelcome image of a sweater that didn't quite cover a protruding midsection.
"Honey, I tried to tell you, you shouldn't wear clothes that are so tight. "
She'd been aching for sympathy, but her mother had only given empty I-told-you-sos and the sour taste of disapproval. She hadn't meant to disregard Lane's feelings; she just wanted to help. At least that's what Lane tried to tell herself.
Nobody here knows about that.
Marshall looked terribly outdated next to the Solar execs with his white button-down and geometrically patterned red tie. Handsome in his own way, yet everyone in the room aged twenty years in the presence of their fetus-clients.
Marshall broke away from the others and headed her way.
Her phone pinged, and she glanced at it almost without thinking. Instantly she wished she hadn't.
"What is it?" Marshall asked when he reached her. "You have that look."
She tapped on the notification. She'd set her phone up to alert her whenever a competing design firm posted something on social media, and this was a big one.
"Julia Baumann." She looked up at Marshall. "You didn't tell me Innovate was pitching your friend Ashton, too." She showed Marshall the photo, a cozy image of Julia Baumann and the goatee guy in the next room. "The caption says, 'Sweet things are happening for Innovate. Details coming soon.'" She frowned. "There's a winking emoji and sweet is in all caps. Is she sending a message to us?" He took the phone from her and read the post for himself. "I'm sure you're reading too much into this."
"I thought you said we practically had this one 'in the bag.'" Marshall shrugged. "We do, Lane. Maybe she's trying to get under your skin."
Well, that would be juvenile. Lane groaned. She didn't want to think about Innovate just before she walked into that room. Julia Baumann had a way of swiping clients right out from under her, and it was starting to feel personal. Lane found most of the design community open and friendly — encouraging, even — but Julia was none of those things.
Lane took another glance at the photo. "They look awfully friendly, Marshall, and you know Julia probably had a solid pitch."
"Maybe." Marshall squeezed her hand. "But ours is going to blow them away."
He couldn't possibly know that. She thought back to their many long team meetings — how many times had Marshall deferred to her, chosen her ideas and trusted her vision? What if he'd been wrong to do so? What if she'd misunderstood Solar and gone in completely the wrong direction?
No. She shook her insecurities away. Their pitch was ready — and it was on point. JB Sweet himself would have to take note once she presented her plans. She'd finally get that promotion and maybe even take a little vacation to celebrate.
She'd never taken a vacation.
"Come on, forget Innovate. You're ready for the big leagues." Marshall walked her over to the small huddle at the end of the room where the rest of their team had gathered.
She barely listened as Marshall gave the team his version of a pep talk. He scanned the circle and was met with overenthusiastic nodding from everyone but Lane. She didn't do overenthusiastic. She did focus. She did the game face. She did control.
And she did it well.
"Lane, you okay?"
"I'm ready." She didn't bother trying to explain her readiness or convincing Marshall she really meant it. That's what weak women did. And she never wanted to be one of those again.
"Okay. We'll start in just a few minutes. Knock 'em dead, guys." Marshall waited until the others had dispersed, then turned his attention back to Lane. "You feel good?" She nodded as she ran through her pitch in her mind.
"Remember, this is the chance —"
"Of a lifetime." She cut him off. "I know." Don't remind me. I'm nervous enough as it is.
"I went out on a limb to give you this meeting, Lane. You're up to this, right?" He raised a brow as if issuing a challenge.
"You know I'm up to this." She clicked her phone's screen off, wishing she could click off the sick feeling in her stomach that easily.
"That's my girl." He clapped a hand on her shoulder. Like she was one of the guys. Very professional.
She had to hand it to him — he was doing an excellent job of keeping their relationship hidden. Even she found it hard to believe he had any romantic feelings for her at all.
"You go ahead," she told Marshall. "I'll be right there."
Breathe. She was running through her opening one last time when her phone pinged again, and as if she were programmed to do so, she pulled it out and glanced at it.
Julia had posted another image, this one a photo of the mock-up Innovate had presented to Solar only hours ago. The caption read, We're calling it "Solarvate." Cant wait to get started.
Lane's mouth went dry, her stomach hollow. The image on the screen looked so elegant, so regal, so not what she had planned for this pitch meeting.
"You ready?" Chloe stood at her side, looking a little more tired than usual, the way she often did after one of their all-nighters. Lane made a mental note to get her assistant a gift certificate for a massage or give her some time off to thank her for being so helpful.
Chloe had probably seen Julia's posts too. She kept tabs on them the same way Lane did. But Lane had to believe Solar hadn't made up their mind already. If they had, would they really be sitting here in JB Sweet's conference room?
She did a quick survey of Julia's design, then turned her phone to vibrate. "I'm ready."
Chloe nodded and moved out of the way as Lane passed by. She smoothed her black dress pants and sat down next to Marshall.
After everyone was seated, JB called the meeting to order. The Solar executives, with their Starbucks to-go cups, their casual shoes, their bordering-on-shaggy hair and impress-me expressions, all turned their attention to the man. Marshall might've aged twenty years in the presence of the Solar execs, but next to them, JB seemed downright prehistoric.
Lane had always found him to be a quirky kind of man, one who used words like fellow and had a bushy white mustache that made her doubt the presence of an upper lip at all. Ashton should take a few pointers from JB. That man knew how to grow facial hair.
Lane half listened to JB's introduction of Solar — stating facts she'd already researched on her own. Next, JB gave a short pitch about why his firm was the best to take on the massive task of creating and designing a branded space for a cutting-edge tech business like Solar.
JB assured them that the space they had planned for Solar was not only functional but truly creative at its core — something the artistic Solar execs would certainly appreciate. JB was nothing if not an excellent salesman. Maybe that's why this fellow was still running the show after all these years.
Lane glanced down at her tablet, mentally reciting her opening lines, when the phone in the bag near her feet lit up, vibrating loudly enough to pull Miles's attention.
"Might want to silence that thing," her coworker hissed.
She fished the phone out of her bag and pressed the button to stop the noise before anyone else noticed, but not before she saw that it was her mother calling. She sent the call to voice mail. She supposed she was due for her monthly guilt-trip phone call — it had been at least that long since she'd spoken to her mom.
In her hand, the phone started vibrating again.
Mom, you have the worst timing.
She hit the button to shut it up, then turned off the power.
Marshall took JB's spot at the front of the room and introduced himself. "I think we're ready to begin." He glanced at Lane.
Just breathe. Part of her, she supposed, would always feel like a fraud. Most days, despite her Northwestern education and years of experience, Lane still felt like she was playing dress-up in the closet of someone much older, much thinner, and much more professional than she ever felt.
And yet she'd mastered the art of playing this part perfectly, as if she were born for the role.
"... and we're sure you'll be as impressed with her as we are. Lane Kelley." Marshall spoke her name, pulling her out of her own head.
She met his eyes and he leaned forward as if to will her out of her seat.
Had time suddenly stopped moving?
Lane stood, taking her place next to the big screen. You can do this. She flipped open the cover of her tablet and drew in a deep breath as the image of a mood board that perfectly captured their design popped up on the screen beside her.
She'd created the image herself. Most people were visual, and the images, all of them, needed to conjure the same feelings the space itself would. Every item on the mood board had been carefully — painstakingly — chosen.
Lane knew Solar inside and out, she reminded herself. She'd read every article, every blurb, every tweet and Facebook post that had anything to do with the business this team had built. She was wrapped up in the details — and it was about to pay off.
She had her game face on. As she stood there, every insecurity melted away. They were in her world now, and here, she knew how to get things done.
Lane was about to deliver her first sentence when the glass door of the conference room opened and Chloe appeared. She wore an apologetic look on her face and Lane knew her well enough to tell she wasn't happy to steal the attention.
"I'm sorry to interrupt." Chloe looked at Lane. "Lane, you've got a phone call."
"Can't it wait?" Marshall spoke through clenched teeth, doing a bad job of pretending he wasn't annoyed.
Chloe's face fell. "I'm afraid not."
Marshall pressed his lips together and glared at Lane, telepathically communicating the words undoubtedly running through his mind: Don't screw this up.
"Can you take a message, Chloe?" Lane asked. "I'm just getting ready to begin."
"I don't think —"
"Take a message," Marshall cut her off.
"There's been an accident, Lane," Chloe said. "You need to take the call."
Excerpted from Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh, Danika King. Copyright © 2017 Courtney Walsh. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
While it's not all that unusual for a story to touch my heart (even burrow down deep and make a home there), it is a rare blessing to be challenged to the point of positive change by fiction. This book has that power. Inside this entertaining, relatable, encouraging story is a simple truth we all know yet often fail to apply... Lane Kelley is a focused, driven, corporate ladder climbing powerhouse... she's also lonely, ridiculously overworked and underfed. Her hometown memories are overshadowed by years of teasing and heartbreak. Ryan Brooks is an unassuming, small-town trailblazer. With a little encouragement from the Kelleys, he has pulled himself up by the bootstraps and built a life to be proud of. Ryan is loyal, patient, and hardworking but he also makes time for family and fun. Just Look Up's subtle messages about family, relationships, and priorities have also inspired me to take a fresh look at how I spend my own time and energy. I requested the opportunity to read this book through the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.
Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh is poignant and sincere, with just the right amount of flirting and faith. Ryan Brooks is the perfect book boyfriend, and you’ll find yourself grinning like a lovesick teenager whenever he’s on the page. Lane is a heroine who could be your sister, your best friend, your coworker … even you yourself. Together, they team up with a colorful cast of supporting characters to tell a sweet story of family, forgiveness, and restoration. This one will be lingering in my heart for a while! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
I loved every page of this novel. Watching Lane go from closed up tight to ready to give her heart was touching and funny and tear inducing a couple of times. In my mind I was off staying in one of Brooks cottages, eating breakfast in the cafe and getting takeout from the cheese shop at lunch. Excited to find a new author to love. (Like a fool I read book 2 first, but it didn't matter a whole lot).
Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh is a wonderful, sweet novel full of romance, faith and family. I quickly connected to the characters and the message relayed through this story. "The very best things are found when we just look up". This statement is perfect for today's world with it's many distractions, whether it be simply looking up from our phones to the people and places around us or "looking up" on a spiritual level. Overall I loved this book and look forward to rereading it in the future. 5 out of 5. I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.
This story follows Lane, who struggles with social anxiety and has trouble fitting in with her family. She still feels the effects of her childhood, where she was nicknamed “Pudge” and not treated well. I related to Lane in many ways. She felt very real and the descriptions of her anxiety were very accurate. As I was reading, I was reminded of some difficult memories from my childhood of being teased and feeling left out. I also related wholeheartedly when her brother was almost questioning her anxiety and making her feel like she could control it. (Been there, done that). I also found myself nodding furiously during the scene when she goes to her hometown church. I loved how Ryan helped Lane to see where her priorities should be and found his love for her to be very special. The town of Harbor Pointe was a great setting and I’m excited to know that this is only book one in a series of stories taking place in this small lakeside touristy town. I also found Lane’s job as an interior designer to be interesting to read about. I’ve often thought that would be a fun job so it was fun to learn some of the ins and outs of it. Overall, I loved this book. The writing flowed very easily and I flew through the story and was very sad to see it end. I will definitely be reading more books by Courtney.
I loved this book. Ryan is the perfect hero. He overcame so much to become a man of honor and steadfastness. Lane struggles to accept herself and believe in herself even after she’s become everything she ever wanted to be. Families are not always what we wish them to be but Ms. Walsh shows us that sometimes we just need to accept them, and ourselves, for what and who they are.
4.5 stars Just Look Up is an enthralling contemporary novel, with a very relatable message of discovering one's self worth and beauty. I was wonderfully content to settle within the pages of this story and surround myself with the vibrant characters. Lane Kelley left her home town of Harbor Pointe and never looked back. She surrounds herself with work and is content to let that dictate her life - work can't hurt her like a relationship or family could. But a family accident drags Lane back home, risking a promotion and subjecting her to the shame of the past that she was so eager to escape. Ryan Brooks found solace in Harbor Pointe. To him, it is a refuge away from the trauma of war and his childhood. But the accident that nearly claims both his and his friend's life brings up his past, as does Lane retuning home. He hopes that he can show Lane that she is worth far more than her work life and that in taking the time to slow down she might find contentment and be willing to risk her heart again. I am so glad I read this novel. I didn't overly enjoy Paper Hearts, the only other book I have previously read by this author, and I was a little reluctant to take the risk on this, her latest release. But I am so glad I did read it because it was so worth it. Just Look Up was simply wonderful. The characters and settings, both Lane's busy work of Chicago and the small-town Harbor Pointe, leapt off the page. Lane Kelley was a character to whom it was so easy to relate. As was her constant struggle with self image and valuing herself. My heart went out to Lane. The way her family and the people of Harbor Pointe treated her, both as a child and an adult, was absolutely terrible. Where's the common decency? You just don't say those kind of things to people! I wanted to shake them or yell at them. You call yourself a loving family? But Lane's family are human and they naturally made a few mistakes, and it was Lane who carried the emotional brunt of those mistakes. But Lane made a few mistakes herself (totally understandable, given the circumstances) by wrapping that hurt around her and letting it isolate her from her family, friends, and the world. She buried herself in work and tried to define her worth in success and achievements. Returning to Harbor Pointe and reconnecting with Ryan brings all her old feelings to the surface once again. Ryan Brooks is a darling. I loved him! His dogged determination to reach out to Lane is wonderful. He has always loved her, but was never brave enough to act on his feelings. Until now. He knows it will take perseverance to show Lane how much he values her, as well as giving her space to figure some things out on her own. Ryan hides his insecurities underneath a facade of humour, charm, and flirting. Lane is one of the few people to ever see beyond that facade. But hidden behind that surface is a man who cares deeply, worries about his responsibilities, and wants so desperately to do the right thing and somehow give back to all the people who have supported him. There are additional romances in this story which are just begging to be shared in their own books. I would especially love it if Ryan's sister Hailey got her own story. Faith is gently woven into Just Look Up and is the perfect underpinning factor to this story. Just Look up has a lovely balance between self discovery, faith, family, and romance.
I'm so glad I looked up and found this amazing book! This is the first full-length novel I've read by Courtney Walsh (I read her novella A Sweethaven Romance in Right Where We Belong-check out my review on Goodreads) and I've been missing out. Just Look Up is a highly relevant story and I loved author, Courtney Walsh's note at the end of the story explaining how the plot came to be. Let's talk characters. Right away we're introduced to Lane Kelley, a woman who has strived to climb the corporate ladder of success. Chained to her cell phone it takes a life threatening accident to pull her eyes up long enough to face her painful past, which includes childhood friend, Ryan Brooks. You guys, this story has all of the emotions and I believe it has everything to do with the masterful way Ms. Walsh crafts characters. Each character, even minor characters, are created with such depth it was impossible to not grow attached to the feelings of each as they played out. If that wasn't enough you have this story--this one that mirrors real life in its authenticity and develops this powerful theme that won't likely leave me anytime soon. This story does not shy away from the devastating reality behind personal pain, regret, fears, and heartbreak but Ms. Walsh brings balance penning a sweet story where forgiveness, love, and beauty can be had if only we Just Look Up. I highly recommend this book to readers who love a heartwarming romance that tackles tough issues but will leave you inspired, hopeful, and absolutely ready to book your next stay in Harbor Pointe.
Help my interest.
Lane Kelly is a driven, ambitious and determined woman. She’s also bitter, angry and angst filled. She can’t seem to let go of the past, and it clouds every aspect of her adult life. The message of Just Look Up is a great one and has a triple meaning. First, the need to take our eyes off our problems and look up to see our blessings. Lane needs to take her eyes off her phone and look up at all that is her life. Finally, we need to look up to God to find our way. Just Look Up is a good story and has a good message, but I could never really get into it. The idea of the novel is inspirational, and there are times in the story when its meaning comes to life. However, the largest part of the book conveys the relentless anger and angst of Lane, which gets old fast. I quickly began to skip over the parts of the book where she kept replaying her childhood in her mind. Although I didn’t enjoy Lane’s storyline and couldn’t really connect with her, I did like the other characters and the story itself. Someone else reading the story may very well connect with her and her feelings. I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
Great inspirational story by Courtney Walsh! Going home...can often leave us feeling reluctant, overwhelmed and ambiguous especially if we have unresolved issues with our loved ones. Just Look Up is a story about family and forgiveness. You will not be disappointed when reading this lovely story. I was given an ARC from the the author/publisher. All conclusions are mine and mine alone.
As this is my first book by Courtney Walsh, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it was contemporary romance, but would I like her style? Would it be a new take, or “the same old thing”? I’d heard so many excellent things and one of my friends very highly recommended it, so I decided to give it a go. And I’m so glad that I did! I immediately found myself drawn into this story, pulled into these characters’ lives and wishing I could take a trip to Harbor Pointe, MI. I have definitely found another favorite author, whose books will be finding a home on my keeper shelves. The story line itself, intrigued me. A character that hides behind her phone, keeping it as a shield between herself and the world. It is so fitting for the time, where electronic devices are everywhere and so many seem so attached to them. I was curious to see how Ms. Walsh would tackle this subject and I have to say that I think she did an excellent job! I felt as though every time someone admonished Lane Kelley to “look up,” they were also speaking to me, challenging me to pay attention to the world around me. I loved that! I found this story to be a journey, both for the characters and myself. The further I read, the more I found myself pausing to really see the people around me, wondering what I’d been missing. I also loved how Ms. Walsh took care to describe the world around Lane, placing emphasis on the things she was missing by always running, going full speed ahead. I have to confess, when I first met Lane Kelley, she didn’t impress me. She seemed selfish and stubborn, unwilling to bend. But, as I got to know her and saw beyond the cool facade she showed everyone, I found someone I would love to have as a friend. She’s spent most of her life feeling as though she doesn’t belong, doesn’t measure up. My heart broke for her, for the lies she’s believed, for how hard she’s worked to attain something that was always right in front of her. I loved watching the transformation her character goes through, learning to love and allow herself to be loved in return. What do I say about Ryan Brooks? So many things . . . . first, he is SO swoony! Not only is he nice to look at, but he’s got a great sense of humor, doesn’t always take life too seriously, knows how to have fun, focuses on the important things in life, and is willing to drop everything for a friend in need. Oh, and he has a chivalrous streak a mile wide, which just adds to the swoony-ness. I loved getting to know him and seeing his heart for Lane, despite her standoffish behavior and sometimes cranky attitude. And their romance was so sweet! There were definitely several *sigh* worthy moments, a couple where I just wanted to “Gibbs slap” them, and the great “just have to smile” ending. Overall, I would highly recommend reading this book, whether romance is your genre of choice, or not. I loved being challenged by the message with this story and would happily give it more than 5 stars, were that an option. *My thanks to the publisher for my advanced copy of this book! I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
"Just breathe. Part of her, she supposed, would always feel like a fraud." ~Excerpt Lane Kelley is very different from me, but I was still able to relate to her. Perhaps it’s because I know people who are similar to her, or, most likely, it’s because the author is talented. ;) Just Look Up delivers engaging characters, sweet romance, and a powerful message. We often have our heads dug into our work, burdens, past, etc.—you name it. And in doing so, we miss out on the good stuff. Lane has a bumpy past with her family. They don’t really understand her and she works hard (literally and figuratively) at proving she’s overcome her wounds of the past. Her relationship with Ryan Brooks is delivered in a wonderfully intricate way that kept me turning the pages. This is a touching read with a heart-pricking message we can all learn from. Look up, or you’ll miss the blessings in life. (And what gorgeous cover art!) 5 Stars Cover: Love Title: Love Publisher: Tyndale House Pages: 416 ISBN: 978-1496421487 First Lines: Just Breathe. Lane Kelley rested her hand on her knee, willing it to stop bouncing. Thank you, Tyndale & NetGalley, for my complimentary copy.
I wasn't overly sure what I was going to think of this book. The premise was enough to draw me in when I read it on the Tynedale page. But then I've read a few romances lately and tend to burn out on them fairly quickly. That and I've never heard of this author. I should have known I'd love her just based on the bio but well, ya know. Lane was everything a flawed character needs. Social tics, insecure backstory, and a drive to be better than what she believes she's not. Ryan, or Brooks, as he's called a lot by those who know and love him, is just as beautifully flawed with his own backstory, minus the social tics and feelings of insecurity. It just goes to show that having a so-called perfect childhood does not shelter someone from growing pains and guarantee a well adjusted adulthood. Or that being from the literal wrong side of the tracks means you will never stretch your wings and fly. I loved these two flawed characters surrounded by flawed family and a town that never quite grew up. It's steady consistency is vital to these characters and this family. People grew, and sometimes changed but the town itself remained the safe harbor of 'home'. And yes, while you can never go 'home' again you can always go home to love and acceptance and memories. As Lane learned though, you have to be ready to go home. You can't just do it out of obligation. Lane has avoided home, the horrible memories, and the inferred betrayal of her family. Having gone away to college, changed herself completely as a person, lost her first love to her sister and feeling betrayed by that she's made her life about her career. And the hustle and bustle of the big city. How often do we all try to find ways to replace the hurts with something that can't hurt? Brooks on the other hand was given refuge with Lane's family when he was just a kid. He got out, went to the military, deployed, came home the hero. But it wasn't enough for him either. From the next town over, a town to nowhere, he relocates to the haven of his childhood and knows he has found home. The son of an abusive alcoholic and a disappearing mother he knows the hardness of life. But he finds solace in the acceptance of his found family and tries to look for the silver linings. Their backgrounds are as opposite as the moon and sun. Their outlook is just as varied. I loved these two characters, watching them grow and learn and just figure things out. Sometimes you have to have the confidence to look up, look around, and hang on for your life. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tynedale and NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
The title of this book intrigued me. What is the author calling me to see? I am so glad that I was selected to read this book. Lane and Ryan are such a cute couple. Each of them have their own family issues that they are dealing with. I love their journey to a romantic relationship. I am reminded that I miss so much because my head is always in a book or involved in something and I am not aware of my surrounding. I may miss so many opportunities because I am too focus on one goal like Lane. Sometimes it takes difficult circumstances to make us take stock of where we are and where we need to be. Lane and Ryan were used to tell a powerful story of forgiveness, redemption and love. I received this book from the author. The opinions expressed are entirely of my own.
"Maybe what she's looking for is right in front of her - if only she'd just look up.." (back cover) If you've never read any of Courtney Walsh's books, you're missing out on some great stories with soul and messages that hits home. Her latest, Just Look Up presents to readers a message of simply looking up from what you're so focused on, and see the beauty and life around you. It's perfect for today's tendencies to fixate on our phones and tablets, or even careers and little details and miss the big picture that's always around us. Life is on the move, you don't want to miss what matters. Plus, the romance is quite lovely for all us romantics out there. "Just think about it. But remember the greatest benefit of the whole project is the countless hours you'd get to spend with me.." (163) Cocky, confident and knows exactly what he wants, Ryan Brooks is one worthy hero in my book. I really had fun getting to know him and the fun banters between Lane and him. "He smiled, then leaned down and kissed her . . . she got lost in it . . . she loved kissing him. Why hadn't she realized it sooner.." (310) Talk about swoon worthy kissable kisses! Now I took out a lot of the good parts since I don't want to ruin your initial experience with it, but the romance is smokingly sweet, hot AND what readers will appreciate, clean. ". . . yes, she was always amazing . . . she just didn't know it for herself.." (260) The characters were fun to get to know, along with their back stories. Development for our main characters truly allowed readers to get to know them, and be able to immerse in their emotions. The supporting characters all gave a great performance. You'll like the ones to like and dislike the ones that are meant to be disliked. From Lane's hurt to her tendency to push herself gave us a character that we can relate on many fronts. Sometimes it's just about not knowing who we really are or what we really want. I love how the author gave us someone that is just as flawed as we are, and be able to learn from. Not necessarily as a mirror but understanding how insecurities can hinder and anger disengage. ". . . you've got something really great - you just don't realize it. . . I don't want you to throw away everything good with the bad.." (268) There are so many themes and messages in Just Look Up, by the end of the book, my copy was filled with little page flags, marking all the lovely quotes you see here and more. (If I'd share more, I might have infringe on some copyright issues??) ". . . nobody gives you a guarantee that it's going to be easy. Giving up would be easy. Leaving would be easy. Sticking it out - that's a lot harder.." (302) "You never know what you're missing when you're focused on that phone all day.." (87) Even with the different messages, Just Look Up runs like a well oiled machine, giving us readers a wonderful story of heart. If you had to choose one thing to take away from Courtney Walsh's Just Look Up, it's to 'just look up' and enjoy what's around. Maybe it's time for us to do just that. Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion. Please note, all quotes are taken from ARC (essentially an uncorrected proof). Please do not share quote or if do, please make note that it is taken from an ARC.
A heartfelt contemporary romance with a lot of depth! A driven career woman gets an urgent call to come home when her closest brother is in a terrible accident. This is a satisfying read that touches on difficult subjects like alcoholism, betrayal, dealing with bitterness and childhood traumas. The characters were well developed, each with their own set of struggles rooted deeply in their childhoods. I found a lot to relate to in Lane as she finds herself back in her hometown, fighting off her insecurities and coming face to face with people who wounded her; finding the need to continue to prove herself "worthy" by striving so hard in her work. "She had no idea she was loved just the way she was." Her family didn't seem to help much, guilting her and criticizing. No wonder she left! I fell a little in love with Ryan, how he continually extends kindness and friendship to Lane, seeing the best in her, though she doesn't easily reciprocate. He was a positive to her negative. Truly a fixer-upper kind of guy just like his work projects. "He loved finding beauty in what others discarded...a metaphor for his own life." A good example of forgiving just as Christ forgives us. Recommend to readers who enjoy Christian contemporary romances with realistic issues. 4.5 stars (An ebook was provided by NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.)
Very Thought Provoking Story Are you looking up? Are you truly seeing those people around you and hearing what they're saying? You'll never really get to know someone until you truly spend time and communicate with each other. These are some of the issues Lane was having, and yet she really didn't want to change. She didn't want to connect with others unless it was for her business. Because if she truly communicate with her family they'd see her hurt and know her pain and she couldn't trust them to not hurt her more. Courtney Walsh has written a story which will make you stop and think about how you relate to those around you. This book will tug at your heart and leave you realizing there's more to life when you look up and around. There's a challenge in this book for all of us to take the time and honestly speak face to face with others. I think I'll be putting my phone down more and paying more attention to those around me. Great book!
The title of this book is absolutely perfect! The story portrays a powerful theme of the importance of looking up from technology or the busyness of the daily grind to cultivate our relationships with those around us, appreciate the beauty of life, and take time for peaceful moments. A deeper theme is looking up to God for help with accomplishing this, even through our struggles and difficult times. Lane is flawed but easy to relate to. She has many hurts from her growing up years and is extremely vulnerable- so much so that she left town at the first chance and never looked back. She sacrificed her relationships in order to forget her past, but in reality it shapes who she is and affects her choices. The author skillfully reveals various details gradually, keeping me curious and full of anticipation as I read. I feel like I connected more with Brooks, who used a never-ending positive attitude to cope with his insecurities and trials. He and Lane had great romantic chemistry and tension, and I loved seeing him charm and tease her into smiling and lifting her mood. I enjoyed the different phases of Lane and Brooks journey as they deal with pressure and stress from work and learn important lessons from each other. There are so many details I loved in this book but I don't want to share any spoilers, so I'll just say, this is such a great book! Highly recommend!!! (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
Just Look Up was a journey in forgiveness, taking chances, and learning to live life instead of being glued to a phone. I really felt for the main characters, Ryan and Lane. They both had things from their past that impacted the decisions they made in the present and they way they viewed themselves. Lane, in particular, had trouble letting go of all of the hurts she had experienced as a child and young woman. And, honestly, I couldn’t really blame her! The things this girl went through, the way she was treated, and the lack of understanding and empathy was cruel. At first, I wasn’t sure that I could get past that in the story, yet the author handled and resolved things very nicely, leaving me really enjoying the second half of the book! I loved the relationship between these two main characters. Their backstory of friendship was sweet and I really enjoyed seeing how things developed between them. (4.5 stars) I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh is a really cute, relevant book. It is a stand-alone and is my first by this author; I’ve been wanting to read something of hers after seeing so many of my favorite authors gush about her writings. Lane Kelley is an interior designer who is very focused on her career and the company she’s involved in. She has worked to distance herself from her childhood hometown and make a name for herself in Chicago and the interior design industry. It’s all she thinks about, all she does, all she focuses on. She sleeps, eats, and breathes her career. It’s not until she receives a devastating phone call that her brother has been in a motorcycle accident that she slowly begins to wake up and look at those around her instead of being so solely focused on herself. Ryan Brooks is Lane Kelley’s brother’s best friend, and was in the accident with him. He had a childhood crush on Lane, and when she comes back to town to check on her brother, he’s hit all over again by his attraction to her, and he determines this is his moment to try and win her heart. Will she be able to tear her eyes away from her phone and her thoughts away from work for long enough to notice him? This is a sweet story that shares a good message about taking time away from your phone and paying attention to friends and family. It’s appropriate for all ages. I thought the plot moved along pretty well, albeit predictable, and I liked Ryan’s character. I will admit it was a lot harder to like Lane because she was SO focused on her phone for so much of the story that it look me a while to find a reason to feel compassion for her. But a note to those who feel the same way about Lane: stick it out. She does have some redeeming qualities and a backstory that will help you realize why she acts the way she does. Thank you to Tyndale House publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive. *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion – which I’ve done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
When I see a book written by Courtney Walsh, I know it's a must read. Each and every book I've read by Walsh has inspired and touched my heart in an uncanny way - as if she wrote her books specifically for me. And this one, Just Look Up, is no exception. Walsh packs a punch in her newest release. Full of real life tension from complicated family dynamics, the unpredictable curveballs of life, and a journey to discover God's grace and forgiveness amid deep pain, this book has it all. From beginning to end I clearly identified with the heroine of Lane and traveled page after page with her, as if I were walking right in her shoes. The message of this book, to look up and see a perspective and plan bigger and better than our own will resonate long after the final page has turned. I highly recommend this book as well as Walsh's other novels. She has a story and message meant to be heard. I received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
This my first book I've read by Courtney Walsh, but it will definitely not be my last. Forced to take time off her job in Chicago because her brother is in a coma, Lane Kelly reluctantly returns home to Harbor Pointe and the insecurities buried there. Apart from the busy life she's built for herself, Lane must face the sister who betrayed her trust, the family she's still bitter towards, and Ryan Brooks, one of her few friends growing up. During their time taking care of her brother, Brooks gently questions Lane's life in Chicago, pointing out the flaws in her view of success and the phone that controls her identity. Through Brooks' persistence and perspective on life, Lane comes to realize that her identity is not found in her awards and success at work, but in the unconditional love of God. She does not have to constantly strive to be more- being who God created her is enough. Filled with relatable characters and a charming tourist town that I didn't want to leave, the novel is a touching tale of forgiveness, unconditional love, and the beautiful life God has given us if we just look up.
Just Look Up by author Courtney Walsh was a story that I think that may resonate with many people. Sometimes there are situations in our past that have so affected us that we let them define us. In this case Lane Kelley is relentless in her work drive and to achieve her dream job promotion. However, before any of that can take place, she receives emergency news from home. Her brother has been in an accident and her family wants her home. At first it may seem a bit callous of her not to want to go home, but she has pretty much written that place off. As Lane puts her job on hold and rushes home to see her brother Nate, the only one that she knew understood her we get to see snippets of her younger years and what caused such a rift between her and her family that everyone in town seems to love so much. While home, she gets reacquainted with childhood friend Ryan Brooks who has the fondest memories of Lane. Ryan and his sister were practically “adopted” into the Kelley family and that love shown them gave both of them a hope for a better life even when they had to return to their own dysfunctional home. Ryan sees that Lane is tightly wound together and he begins to notice just why she may have left home for good for. So many wonderful, thoughtful insights and lessons were woven throughout this book. I really connected with Lane and her drive to be thin and let her work define her, this story touched on how name calling and how bullying can endure through adulthood. Even what someone may call cute affectionate pet names. When do you need to step back and take a break from work and truly rest was another issue addressed. I liked how the author showed how so much stress can be detrimental to your health. The romance was sweet and I thought that Ryan’s pursuit of Lane was enduringly romantic, even when he was hiding a big, scary secret. Families are important, work is important, as Lane discovers sometimes you just need to let go and embrace both- faults and all. I was provided a copy of this book for free from Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
Nutshell: Lane Kelley is on a new path she has formed for herself. Far away from her family in the sleepy town of Harbor Pointe, Michigan. She is now on a new journey in the bustling city of Chicago working for a fast-paced interior designer firm and she's about to land the promotion she's worked countless hours for. Then one phone call changes her life and she finds herself back in sleepy Harbor Pointe at the bedside of one of her brother's who is clinging to life. She is torn in two between being there for him when he wakes up from his coma and being back in Chicago - so she can flee from home. But then long-time family friend, Ryan Brooks re-inserts himself in her life and she is beyond confused as to what is most important in life. In the end, which path will her life head down? Pro's: Loved that the book was set in Michigan, my home state! The story was a great reminder that no matter how quirky family is, they are still your family. And that forgiveness can go a long way in healing old wounds and re-awaken new friendships, even among family. I enjoyed the intertwining story lines of the lives of the two main characters. Great story line and a great book overall! Con's: Very few! There was a lot of family to navigate through and remember who was who and who belonged to who, but the reader gets the hang of it as the book continues. Recommendation: If you're looking for a book to read on a chilly, rainy day, or while sitting soaking up the rays at the beach and don't want anything heavy, you will enjoy this one! Tyndale Publishers sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.