Marshall’s (Be Strong Enough) book of inspirational women’s fiction explores personal growth and unconditional commitment despite betrayal. Devout Christian Julie Holliday, 49 years old and celebrating 30 years of marriage with the love of her life, Dan, has always suspected that he is serially unfaithful. After discovering a note from an unnamed woman on his desk, Julie’s past fears of his affairs return. She avoids Dan, who continues to perform sweet acts of spousal devotion; shadows the woman she believes is his mistress; prays for guidance and strength; and cries on the ever-supportive shoulder of her best friend and employee Lynnae, who tries to reassure her. After more than a year of Julie being eaten up inside, Dan reveals a decade-ago affair. Julie sells the bakery to Lynnae, leaves notes for her husband and a few friends, and disappears from their New York town to the Rhode Island coast. There, Julie’s pursuit of the dream of building her own inn leads to her discovery of forgiveness and purpose.
Julie’s introspective suspicion of Dan occupies the entire first part of the novel and can be somewhat monotonous, but readers will keep turning the pages due to Marshall’s well-crafted prose and charming settings. Julie’s bakery, for example, is cozily described, down to the cookbooks on its kitchen shelves. And when the action shifts to Rhode Island, readers will find a picturesque Rhode Island landscape and Julie’s colorful gardens provide a dazzling backdrop for her success as an innkeeper.
The extensive cast of characters is another appealing element. From Lynnae to the Rhode Island locals Julie hires at her inn, the side characters’ relationships, marriages, and pregnancies spark interest. Julie’s perseverance in building the inn is inspiring, and those seeking a happy ending will eventually be rewarded. This cozy tribute to faith and unconditional love will please hopeless romantics.
Takeaway: This homage to faith and unconditional love will appeal to hopeless romantics.
Great for fans of: Debbie Macomber’s White Lace and Promises, Nicholas Sparks.
Production grades Cover: B+ Design and typography: B Illustrations: N/A Editing: B- Marketing copy: B-