The Heart Between Us

The Heart Between Us

by Lindsay Harrel

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Overview

“Lindsay Harrel has penned a charming story that is sure to touch the hearts of her readers. Through the stories of Megan and her sister Crystal, readers get a glimpse of adventure, restoration, conquered fears, and realized dreams. Lindsay will no doubt win readers with this heartfelt story.” —Lauren K. Denton, USA TODAY bestselling author of The Hideaway and Hurricane Season, on The Heart Between Us

From award-winning author Lindsay Harrel comes a powerful story of adventure, healing, and learning how to live life to the fullest.

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

“A sweet story of sisterhood, familial bonds, sacrificial love, and finding your own identity amidst the storms of life. Poignant with tender moments, as well as laughter, The Heart Between Us is a touching novel that is sure to please.” —Catherine West, author of Where Hope Begins

“I love this story of facing our fears. Harrel pens a clever, well-written love story between two sisters, the men in their lives and the dreams of a heart donor. Life is more f letting than we know, and this timeless story reminds us to love well.” —Rachel Hauck, New York Times bestselling author, on The Heart Between Us

The Heart Between Us is an absolute gem of a story. The intriguing premise drew me in from the start, but it was the authentic characters and their relatable struggles that kept me reading. I especially loved getting to travel vicariously through Megan and Crystal! A heart-tugging, not-to-be-missed book from an author who belongs on your keeper shelf.” —Melissa Tagg, author of the Walker Family series

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718075705
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 03/13/2018
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 392,159
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her at LindsayHarrel.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

JUNE 1

or the first time in her life, Megan Jacobs felt almost brave.

Her hands continued to grip the steering wheel a moment longer than necessary before she put her Ford Focus into Park and cut the engine. The parking lot at the banquet hall was packed, and people strolled toward the entrance dressed to the nines in tuxedos and ball gowns, ready to enjoy the fund-raiser.

Megan really hoped Caleb was among them. On the other hand, she hoped he wasn't.

But that was the whole point of coming. Not that a fundraiser for the very hospital where she'd received her heart transplant wasn't worthy of attendance. Still, the only thing that had prompted her to accept the invitation in a last-minute RSVP was seeing on Facebook that her old hospital buddy was heading home for the weekend.

It was finally time to apologize.

Megan blew out a breath, f lipped open the lighted mirror on the visor, and angled it downward. Her natural dark-brown hair hung in waves around her face. She'd filled out a lot in the last three and a half years since her surgery, looking healthier than she ever had. Would Caleb notice a difference in her?

Her trembling hand touched the scooped neckline of her red satin dress. Her fingers found the scar that ran from the bottom of her neck nearly to her belly button. The doctors had said it would fade with time. But more than three years later, it was as prominent as ever, like a plump white caterpillar that never moved.

She snatched the smooth, lightweight scarf that lay on the messy passenger seat and for a moment imagined what it would feel like to leave it behind. But then she sighed, wound it around her neck, and draped it to hide the scar.

When she leaned over to grab her clutch, her hand brushed the letter she'd received last week — the one she couldn't bring herself to do anything about. Megan covered it with a magazine that lay on the f loor. She'd think about it later. Right now she had to focus on finding Caleb Watkins.

She opened the car door and climbed out into the fading Minnesota sunlight, wobbling on her brand-new stilettos. The days were getting longer now that summer had finally arrived. Winter had lasted longer than usual this year, with a f lurry of snow falling in early May.

Megan loved all the seasons but felt a special connection with winter. Maybe that was because she understood it best — the snow covering the ground, burying it, waiting for something to happen. To grow.

Sometimes it seemed she'd been waiting her whole life.

Tiny pebbles crunched beneath her heels as she approached the hall. Strands of classical music drifted toward her. A few other people converged at the door, where a large sign indicated she was in the right place.

Megan said hello to the greeters and was swallowed into a glamorous room decorated with at least thirty round tables, each one featuring a black shimmery tablecloth, an ornate gold-and-floral centerpiece, eight place settings, and name cards. People milled everywhere, gathering in small clusters and gripping champagne f lutes or wine glasses. Servers bustled in and out of a swinging door to the left with silver trays, stopping to offer hors d'oeuvres to attendees. The faint scent of seared beef made its way from the kitchen every time a server disappeared or reappeared through the door.

She forced herself to put one foot in front of the other, sneaking peeks around the room for someone she knew — specifically, a lanky guy with dark hair who'd always had the ability to coax a smile out of her even on her worst days. Megan wandered toward the edge of the crowded room. Dealing with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy for so much of her life hadn't provided many opportunities for swanky social gatherings like this one, and so far she didn't recognize anyone. Maybe Caleb wasn't coming after all.

By instinct, she placed two fingers over her wrist. For fifteen seconds, she counted, then did the math in her head. Ninety beats per minute. Right within range, even though a little higher than normal. She took the small notebook out of her purse and jotted down her latest stat. Some might call it an unnecessary habit, one formed during that first year after surgery when her doctor had suggested tracking her heart rate, along with what foods she ate and when she took her medication.

At her first-year checkup, he'd recommended getting a heart-rate tracking device like a Fitbit — something that wouldn't require her to be so vigilant.

She hadn't. If she left it up to a device, she might eventually forget altogether about the need to track her heart rate — and she couldn't afford to be so lax.

Megan capped the pen and stuffed it and her notebook back into her purse. She took a deep breath. Time to find her seat. With steps that were surer than she felt, Megan found the seating chart, then headed toward the front row of tables, looking for her name card. She was so focused, she didn't see the person in front of her and ran straight into someone tall and solidly built.

"Oof." She closed her eyes at the pain that shot through her nose and stepped back. "I'm so sorry."

Two arms steadied her. "Meg?"

She'd know that voice anywhere. She opened her eyes and craned her neck upward. Caleb stared down with his emerald eyes.

Oh.

No longer was he her pale, skinny friend with a mullet who needed a new heart. His cheeks weren't sunken in, his hair had been cut, and his skin had a nice bronze to it. He filled out his suit with muscles she'd never seen before. There hadn't been any recent pictures of him on Facebook. The only photos he'd posted were those he'd taken as a professional photographer. She was wholly unprepared for this transformation.

Because frankly, he was gorgeous.

Megan blinked in rapid succession and stood there like an idiot, unable to say a thing. Their easy camaraderie was gone, now that she and Caleb hadn't spoken in over a year.

Not since he'd called and asked her to come work with him in London like they'd always dreamed — and she'd said yes, only to change her mind a week before the trip, leaving him to scramble for another writer at the last minute.

"Meg? You okay?" Caleb studied her face, his brow furrowed in worry.

She lowered her hand. "Yes." Her voice squeaked as she pushed the word from her lips. She cleared her throat. "Yes, I'm fine. Sorry about running into you. I mean, literally running into you. It doesn't mean I'm not happy to see you." Oh, man. This was getting more uncomfortable by the minute. And what now? Did she hug him? Fist bump like they used to? Turn and run right out the front doors, not looking back?

A different kind of anxiety than she'd been feeling that night zipped through her. Almost like ...

But that was nonsense. This was Caleb. The guy who had been her fellow-patient-slash-friend since their awkward teenage years, who'd maneuvered his wheelchair into her hospital room at two in the morning to share his forbidden pizza more times than she could count. The friend who had spent hours and hours in the hospital's children's center looking at old copies of National Geographic with her, dreaming of what life would be like once they got their new hearts. He'd received his five years ago, and she'd been thrilled for him.

But oh, it had been so hard to watch him go on almost immediately to do what they'd dreamed of doing, together — without her. Of course, it didn't make sense to begrudge him. It's not like he'd stopped calling her and giving her encouragement during her pre-surgery and recovery days.

Well, not until a year ago, when he'd asked her to join him, and she'd chickened out.

So tonight she'd come to make amends.

Enough. Megan stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his chest. His arms encircled her, and for a moment, she was home. The loudness in the room faded.

When she pulled away, the noise came careening back. Caleb smiled, but his features seemed tighter. "It's good to see you."

"You too." She wanted to say more, but how could she go from "Hi" to "I'm sorry" in two seconds flat?

Crystal would have known what to say. She'd have walked into the room completely competent, like she owned the place. Unlike Megan, who shifted from one foot to the other and picked at her cuticles.

But then, her twin had always been Megan's opposite in every way, hadn't she?

Megan tugged at the short waves at the nape of her neck. "H-how are you?"

"You know, living the dream." Caleb chuckled, but something about his laugh sounded off. He fiddled with his bow tie.

"That's great." The words had a ring of fake brightness to them. "You're working as a freelance photographer still, right?" As if she didn't stalk the gorgeous photos from around the world he posted on Facebook — amazing landscapes, dangerous animals, foreign people, wonders of the world.

All the places they'd talked about seeing "someday," he was seeing. And she was busy ... doing what?

"Yeah, I just got back from Cameroon." A smile settled on Caleb's lips. "You wouldn't believe how lush it is there. And the people are so friendly. You'd be jotting everything in your journal."

Her memory was filled with so many nights in the hospital, watching the Travel Channel together, Megan recording details as they f lashed across the screen, then attempting later to form them into a written account. Caleb would read her "articles" and decide what pictures he'd take to complement them.

And now it had been years since she'd even touched a journal.

"I'm sure I would."

"Still working at the library?"

"Yes. Same ol', same ol'." Megan had been an aide at the small library in her hometown since high school, and despite the bachelor's degree in English she'd earned online, she'd stayed in the minimum-wage position.

Not just that, but at the age of thirty-two, she still lived with her parents with no concrete plans of moving out. She'd intended to, once she was "well enough." Then the days slipped into weeks and months, even years, and Megan had stayed put.

Her life seemed more pathetic by the moment.

Caleb frowned. He opened his mouth to say something else. But she couldn't take whatever he was going to say. It was bad enough she was disappointed in herself. Adding her once-upon-a-time best friend's disappointment to the load was more than she could bear. "It's really stuffy in here. I need air." Megan turned on her heels and pushed her way through the crowd. She burst onto a balcony, inhaling the fresh air, taking it in gulps.

Her lungs burned. "Meg, wait."

She leaned against the concrete railing, her back to Caleb as he approached.

He placed his elbows next to her on the railing. His cologne f loated on the evening breeze — a woodsy scent that wasn't familiar. Not familiar, but not unpleasant. Not at all. "Can we start over?"

Megan tilted her head toward him. An apology rested in his eyes. She nodded and chewed her bottom lip.

"You look beautiful tonight."

Her cheeks warmed and her eyes f litted back to the horizon. "Thanks." She should compliment him in return. "You don't look so bad yourself."

"I know."

She laughed. Her hand flew out, playfully smacking his arm. "So modest." Now this — this was familiar.

"I'd much rather be in my jeans and T-shirt, though." He snuck a look around and yanked off his bow tie, stuffing it into his pocket. Then he undid the top few buttons on his crisp white shirt. "There. Now I can breathe again."

His transplant scar peeked from below, but he didn't seem to care.

Silence fell. Now or never, Megan. She turned her whole body, still cocking a hip against the railing. "Caleb, I came tonight to see you."

"Really?"

She nodded. "I'm sorry about London."

He remained quiet for a moment. "What happened?"

Seeing him there, strong, resilient, living his dream ... it broke the dam of longing inside of her. How she wished she had half the courage he did. "I convinced myself my health wasn't good enough yet. That it was an adventure for 'later.'"

"I thought I'd given you enough time to recover. Two years should have been plenty, and from our texts and phone calls, it seemed like your doctor was really impressed with your progress. I never meant to push you."

"You didn't. Not at all." She started pacing and the words just tumbled out. "It's true there is always the fear of relapse in the back of my mind. But it was more than that. You wanted me to come to London on this grand adventure — and write about it for a magazine."

Caleb scratched behind his ear. "I don't get it. Isn't that what we talked about doing for years? Me photographing, you writing? But then the perfect opportunity came along and you didn't want it."

"I did want it. But fear took over. Because what authority do I have to write about something like that? Me, who has never been anywhere or done anything? Who still lives at home, working the same job I've worked since high school? Who has written countless articles over the years and has only had the courage to ever show them to you and my family — never to submit them?"

Caleb was quiet for a moment. "You said you're sorry. Does that mean you regret saying no, or just regret putting me in a tough spot?"

Tears welled in her eyes and spilled onto her cheeks. She swiped at them as they fell. "I regret all of that."

"Then why haven't you done anything to change it? Why not submit one of those articles? Go somewhere and get experience?"

All million-dollar questions. "I can't explain it. I'm just stuck. It's like any time I get the desire to move forward, something's holding me back. I mean, it's not just about the writing. I can't even get up the courage to see my donor's family." The image of the letter waiting in the car f lashed through her mind. One more failure to add to her long list. She continued taking a few steps, pivoted, walked a few more steps. Then started all over again.

Caleb gently stopped her and guided her back toward the edge of the balcony. "Have they contacted you?"

"Janice Harding forwarded me a note they wrote a few weeks ago. They said they're ready to meet me."

"When I met my donor's family, it was really healing for me." Caleb hesitated. "Of course, everyone has a different experience. But it could be good for you."

"Maybe." Janice, the Donor Family Services Representative for the transplant program, had included her own note when she sent the family's. She'd said the ball was completely in Megan's court. A ball Megan had never asked for, one that had come f lying out of nowhere, leaving Megan wincing as it hurtled toward her. But how could she deny these people anything?

It was something Nana would have told her to pray about, if she'd still been alive. But what was the point? God would do what he wanted whether she prayed or not.

Caleb reached out and squeezed Megan's hand. The tender touch was so familiar, but the fire it sent up her fingertips was not. "If you're looking for a way to get 'unstuck,' this might be a good place to start."

He didn't understand. Except, actually, he probably did. "But how do I waltz in there, a living reminder to these people of all they lost? I don't know much about my donor except that she was an eighteen-year-old girl with her whole life ahead of her. How would her family feel knowing I've done absolutely nothing with my life since she saved it?"

It was true, wasn't it? She'd been hiding. Hiding in her parents' home, hiding at the library, hiding from life.

Megan turned to face the lights of Rochester. Somewhere out there, a family waited for closure. Closure only she could give. And maybe in taking that step toward closure for them, Megan would finally find the courage she'd been searching for all these years.

CHAPTER 2

As far as stomachaches went, Crystal Ballinger's was off-the-charts painful.

She groaned and rolled over in bed, clutching her belly. With her other hand, she felt in the dark until she located the Tums on her side table. Like a pro, she unscrewed the cap one-handed, fished a tablet out, and popped it in her mouth, chewing as the awful powder coated her tongue. Then she lay there for a moment, letting the fog of sleep drift from her mind.

Why wasn't Brian in bed? Had her husband left for church already? He normally told her good-bye.

Today was Sunday, wasn't it?

No, wait. He'd left last night for a twenty-four-hour shift at the station.

And today was Monda

"What time is it?" No one answered her, but the cat on the end of the bed protested as Crystal bolted upright and grabbed her phone.

8:16 a.m.

And several texts from Tony asking where she was. Oh no.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Heart Between Us"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Lindsay Harrel.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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.

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The Heart Between Us 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Abby1219 More than 1 year ago
Love love and love this story!! Each one of us has something that we've let fear dictate how we live our lives, but it doesn't have to be this way. We were never meant to live in fear, but in freedom and joy. Yes, there are scary things that can happen to us, but we can't live in a constant state of waiting for them to happen. That's not living, not even close. There is joy even in the hard times. And maybe we'll just learn that we're a lot stronger than we thought we were.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Lindsey‘s writing. Her characters are so real and the story was so meaningful and reel. I enjoyed the adventures and the depth of the character relationships. This book has a profound message of healing, restoration, and freedom!
AngelaBycroftNZ More than 1 year ago
The Heart Between us is a romance story but only in the strictest sense of the term - actually it’s much much more than that. It’s the story of two sisters who have let the sands of time fall down without realising just how far they have both drifted away from each other. It’s a story of redemption of that relationship and also a travelogue about living the slogan - Seise the Day! Twins Megan and Crystal have grown into two very different people - Megan has come through major heart problems as a child to finally a heart transplant which now should give her a new lease of life but in many ways she is still full of fear and worry. Crystal has always lived in the shadow of her parents and her own worry for her sister and whether she realised it or not - she has resented Megan for it. This has only helped to widen the divide level further. When Megan takes the brave decision to meet the parents of the girl whose heart she was given - she receives a journal chronicling all the things she had on her unfulfilled bucket list. Megan decides it’s her misson to complete the list. When, with her parents insistence, Crystal joins the trip they will both discover who they really are and just what the really mean to each other. I loved the sister’s story which in many ways was the main focus away from just being a pure romance. This was a wonderful wet afternoon read - full of adventure and vivid descriptions from famous places all around the world. It made you want to book your own tickets around the world. I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher as part of the Thomas Nelson/ Zondervan Fiction Guild. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
JanineRos More than 1 year ago
This one has been beckoning me since March when it was released. I finally bought it and OH MY!!! What a lovely, lovely, lovely book. Characters who have overcome when all odds were stacked against them. Adventure to the ends of the earth. And even though this book is primarily about two sisters reuniting, the romance between Meg and Caleb was mesmerizing. Thanks, Lindsay Harrel for this treasure! It inspired me very much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended - excellent story & well written!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a hard story to take a break from. The characters seem so real. I'll definitely be looking for another book by Ms Harrel.
RobbyeReviewer More than 1 year ago
WOW!! The Heart Between Us left a profound impact on me. This story is an emotional roller coaster no one can prepare for, but I’m glad I experienced it. Lindsay Harrel is a new author to me, and I look forward to reading more of her books. She does a wonderful job of drawing you into the story, creating realistic people and scenarios. I knew the basic premise of the story; a young woman, Megan, who is 32 years old, struggles with heart disease until age 29 when she receives a heart transplant. What I didn’t know or expect was the heartfelt authenticity of the story, in keeping with the timeless classics, I found myself truly feeling for the characters as if I’d known them for years. I empathized with Crystal, Megan’s sister, who felt she could never be enough because her parents’ focus was always on her twin sister’s physical problems. The problems Crystal and her husband faced within their marriage were true to life. Sometimes it’s easier to revert to autopilot and become a super controller than it is to confront and fix problems, but failing to solve existing issues spawns new ones. Traveling around the world with Crystal and Megan brings us many delightful and breathtaking moments, along with insightful glimpses into our own humanity. The story is one of growth and healing, of questioning God, of reconciliation and of anger, with a large dose of jealously. Ultimately, we experience redemption and healing. Maybe the past didn’t have to be a bitter mark always marring the surface of her heart. Maybe life really could be an amazing adventure, one not of her own making, but the kind that comes from toil and heartache and love. Especially love. (pg. 281) “God can handle your questions, Meg. If you want to know, ask. A relationship is about trust, and trust is grown through communication.” (pg. 227) Some parts of the story are predictable. However, the predictability does not detract from the entirety of the story. Be prepared to laugh, cry and perhaps grow just a little in the process, too. I received this book from The Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
As I write this review I reflect on my life and how precious our lives are. This story is emotionally charged with characters that penetrate the deepest part of our souls. I loved the character Megan. She is definitely a fighter and when given a second chance at life takes it with full force. I admired her determination to fulfill someone's bucket list. The connection between Megan and her donor heart is without question written with pure compassion and respect. What I liked about Megan's sister, Crystal is her need to be wanted. For so many years she has lived in the shadow of her sister . Megan was always sick and kept her parents attention directly on her and Crystal is left looking on from the sidelines. I am guilty of doing that to my oldest son. His younger brother was very sick and spent a lot of time in ICU. It is easy to forget the child who is well when all you see is your sick child suffering. The story is one of discovery and healing for the sisters. It shows how relationships can be repaired and give hope to new beginnings. Their journey takes them all over the world. The author does an amazing job of describing the different places and helps readers feel like they are seeing the world with the sisters. The story is an inspiration to me because it reminds me that family is the most important gift you can have. I encourage everyone to grab a copy, tissues and get comfortable as the author takes you to far away places. If there is a hero to recognize in the story it has to be Amanda. She gave the gift of life and I love how Megan chose to honor her . I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild. The review is my own opinion.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
As I write this review I reflect on my life and how precious our lives are. This story is emotionally charged with characters that penetrate the deepest part of our souls. I loved the character Megan. She is definitely a fighter and when given a second chance at life takes it with full force. I admired her determination to fulfill someone's bucket list. The connection between Megan and her donor heart is without question written with pure compassion and respect. What I liked about Megan's sister, Crystal is her need to be wanted. For so many years she has lived in the shadow of her sister . Megan was always sick and kept her parents attention directly on her and Crystal is left looking on from the sidelines. I am guilty of doing that to my oldest son. His younger brother was very sick and spent a lot of time in ICU. It is easy to forget the child who is well when all you see is your sick child suffering. The story is one of discovery and healing for the sisters. It shows how relationships can be repaired and give hope to new beginnings. Their journey takes them all over the world. The author does an amazing job of describing the different places and helps readers feel like they are seeing the world with the sisters. The story is an inspiration to me because it reminds me that family is the most important gift you can have. I encourage everyone to grab a copy, tissues and get comfortable as the author takes you to far away places. If there is a hero to recognize in the story it has to be Amanda. She gave the gift of life and I love how Megan chose to honor her . I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild. The review is my own opinion.
Melissa Andres More than 1 year ago
The Heart Between Us is an engaging and adventurous tale! One of my favorite things about this story is that the main character, Megan, is not naturally a strong, independent woman. Megan's stronger than she thinks, but she has some growth that needs to take place. She learns just how strong she is and all that she's capable of. This is a very well written story that deals with organ donation, long-term illness, difficulties with parents and siblings, travel and adventure, and (my personal favorite) falling in love. The Heart Between Us is a truly unique, one of a kind story. It's engaging and will be keep you drawn in until the very last page. I truly enjoyed it! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.....I love books with depth of character and flaws and this book doesn’t disappoint. It deals with family dynamics, stepping out of your comfort zone, being willing to share truth no matter how much it hurts, taking the risk of giving your heart away, taking off the masks we hide behind, being real, and finding a stronger Faith through it all. Thought provoking and well written by a new author to me. These sisters are so different but so similar in ways they don’t realize until they take a journey together. Not just a physical journey but a journey of emotions and heart. You will love these characters and not want it to end. I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
Jennybug52 More than 1 year ago
4 stars- The back cover synopsis of this book intrigued me. It sounded like such a great storyline and I was eager to dive right in. I have to say it did not disappoint. This was a touching story from start to finish. Twin sisters Megan and Crystal may look alike but that’s all they have in common. Over the years, Megan’s health has pulled them apart until the sisters are little more than strangers. Now that Megan has a new heart and a goal to fulfill her heart donor’s bucket list, can the 2 sisters find their way back to each other? The author did a great job of creating believable characters that I could picture being friends with in real life. Obviously, I knew things would happen on Megan and Crystal’s trip that would affect their relationship but I enjoyed seeing how the author chose to weave their story together. Neither sister was perfect and they both showed a lot of growth over the course of the story. I liked that the story allowed for the sisters to continue to show growth in their relationships, even at the end, instead of tying everything up with a perfect bow. Traveling with Megan and Crystal around the world, visiting so many amazing places, was also an adventure. The author did a really nice job with the character of Megan’s heart donor, Amanda, as well. Her journal entries were poignant and reflective and I felt myself mourning the loss of a life cut short, yet celebrating the new life she gave Megan. This was an enjoyable read I will be sure to pass on to my friends. I look forward to reading Lindsay’s next book. I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
Jennybug52 More than 1 year ago
4 stars- The back cover synopsis of this book intrigued me. It sounded like such a great storyline and I was eager to dive right in. I have to say it did not disappoint. This was a touching story from start to finish. Twin sisters Megan and Crystal may look alike but that’s all they have in common. Over the years, Megan’s health has pulled them apart until the sisters are little more than strangers. Now that Megan has a new heart and a goal to fulfill her heart donor’s bucket list, can the 2 sisters find their way back to each other? The author did a great job of creating believable characters that I could picture being friends with in real life. Obviously, I knew things would happen on Megan and Crystal’s trip that would affect their relationship but I enjoyed seeing how the author chose to weave their story together. Neither sister was perfect and they both showed a lot of growth over the course of the story. I liked that the story allowed for the sisters to continue to show growth in their relationships, even at the end, instead of tying everything up with a perfect bow. Traveling with Megan and Crystal around the world, visiting so many amazing places, was also an adventure. The author did a really nice job with the character of Megan’s heart donor, Amanda, as well. Her journal entries were poignant and reflective and I felt myself mourning the loss of a life cut short, yet celebrating the new life she gave Megan. This was an enjoyable read I will be sure to pass on to my friends. I look forward to reading Lindsay’s next book. I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
kvbwrites More than 1 year ago
I liked the description of this book when I first read it – not really a romance, but the possibility of a romantic thread. I also liked the cover. I know, I know. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but I do decide to read books based on them. Plus, I’d never read anything by Lindsay Harrel, so I thought I’d give it a go. My first reaction: the book description doesn’t do the book justice. That’s actually a trend I’ve noticed recently – back cover copy isn’t as accurate as it should be. The description makes it sound like this books is Megan’s story, but it’s not. It’s really Megan’s AND Crystal’s stories, and both stories find their roots in their Christian faith (if you weren’t expecting this book to have a faith element, you’ve officially been notified). I’m not a fan of these inaccurate descriptions because I start reading expecting one thing and get something completely different. That, however, is not the author’s fault, and my review will not reflect that frustration. My official reaction: this was a fun book. It didn’t quite grab my attention that way I’d hoped it would (I was able to put it down for a day or two, then come back to it), but I enjoyed reading it. It was also a new take on the twin relationship. So often I read books or watch movies where the twins are inseparable, but Harrel decided to ask “what if” and she put some space between them. It created an interesting dynamic. This is very much a coming-of-age type story; it’s about two women finding themselves and finding each other (and there’s also a bit of romance). I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. *I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers. The opinions are my own.
ChasRay0 More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up The Heart Between Us. I like general fiction, even general romantic fiction but sometimes it can be too over the top. It seems like the girl always finds herself in impossible situations and a guy just happens to come along who has all the answers. He says the right things and fits her mental list of what she's looking for in a man and they fall madly in love. If you're like me and you're tired of the same old same old then you're in luck! The Heart Between Us is fresh, original, and a story you're sure to love! Megan Jacobs got a second chance at life. Born with a failing heart Megan spent most of her childhood and teen years in and out of hospitals, it's there she meets and befriends Caleb. Like Megan, Caleb was born with a failing heart and they quickly become the best of friends, spending countless hours watching the travel channel planning their future. Megan would write the stories and Caleb would photograph their adventures throughout the world. It was a great plan born of boredom and suffering, but when the unexpected happens and Caleb and Megan both receive heart transplants their dreams can become a reality. Unfortunately, Megan gets cold feet and pushes aside the one person who believed she could do anything. She won't do anything to risk her new heart. She neurotically checks her heart rate and pulse and meticulously watches what she eats. She's been given a new lease on life and she refuses to do anything to put that in jeopardy. After a chance meeting with Caleb, years after their falling out, Megan decides she needs to meet the family of the girl who gave her her new heart. Little did Megan know, this was the first step that would start the greatest adventure of her life! I was pleasantly surprised with The Heart Between Us. It wasn't over dramatic but it did have points of conflict. Real conflict, like friends fighting, mom's being over protective, and a twin sister who was like a stranger. It was also beautifully written, Lindsay Harrel has a way of writing a story that wraps its way inside of you. You forget that you don't really know Caleb and Megan and you find yourself rooting for your friend to find her wings and fly. There is romance but it's chaste. Hand-holding and kisses only. It truly is a beautiful story that I think everyone will love. Join Megan on the adventure of a life time and find out if the heart makes the person or if the person makes the heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Megan has never been one for adventure. Of course, having a weak heart and receiving a transplant made it difficult for her to pursue her dreams of traveling. In The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel, Megan meets with her heart donor’s family and learns that Amanda, her donor, had a bucket list of things she wanted to accomplish during her lifetime. Megan decides that it is her job to complete the bucket list, which includes traveling around the world. Crystal, Megan’s twin sister, decides to go on the trip with Megan. She hopes the trip will help build their broken relationship as well as help with her relationship with her husband. The spiritual message in this book is rather weak. The message, which does not become clear until nearly the end of the book, is about how God can fix what is broken, including broken relationships. The book got to be a little long as Megan and Crystal travel the world fulfilling Amanda’s bucket list while struggling to build their own relationship. I received this book from Book Look Bloggers. All ideas are my own.
BrittanyMc More than 1 year ago
The Heart Between Us was packed with depth and emotion! I ended up with both a paperback copy and an audio copy. I listened to most of the book on audio and then finished out the last eighteen chapters by reading the paperback. The narrator did a nice job on this story, using differing voices for the various characters. I enjoyed the narration on this audio book very much. I loved the journal entries in this novel. It helped slowly reveal who Amanda (the heart donor) was, and what she had endured in her young life. I loved the main character, Megan. She had a lot of growing to do in the story, in order to overcome her fears, yet she did everything in a kind and caring manner. Crystal was a difficult character for me to embrace, however, I ended up really enjoying her journey and the life lessons she learned. I found that even though the sisters, Crystal and Megan, were the main characters, I actually really liked the men in this book! Brian and Caleb were truly stand up guys. The traveling and sightseeing was so nicely done in this story, I felt like I was experiencing things right along with Megan. I found myself yearning to visit some of the places myself. Although I received a complimentary copy of this book in print form, I also purchased the audio copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.
BookReviewerTG More than 1 year ago
A new author for me. And a wow read. This story is such a heart warming, sad.in.places, happy.in.most! Heart transplants are a new subject for me. But who would have ever thought that one person's heart would be another person's life. One person dies and the the next person receives their heart. The heart between them. Poor Megan she feels like she is stuck in life. She has a bad heart but three years ago she had a heart transplant. Wo, when the heart donor's parents had her their daughter's journal with a bucket list included. Megan decides that she will complete her heart donors list. Then quite unexpectedly her friend, Crystal, wants to go along with Megan on this incredible journey. Loved this story! *This book was provided for review by the Fiction Guild*
pianosue More than 1 year ago
This was a good book about two sisters and living life and reconciliation with each other and with our heavenly Father. Megan Jacobs spent her children living with a weak heart, in and out of hospitals. Now she has a new heart and a new lease on life but will she take full advantage of it or will she let her fears rule her life? Her donor's parents give her their daughters journal and she is drawn to this young girls bucket list. She decides to complete this list. Her sister, Crystal, decides to go with her. Crystal needs a new look at her life and revitalization. Will they be able to reconcile and reconnect on this trip? Will they both be able to move past their fears? A good story.
joyful334209 More than 1 year ago
The Heart Between Us Is about life, love, relationships, family and Faith. It is a tale of two sisters. One who has a life of privilege compared to the other who has had to fight for her every breath - literally. This book takes you on their journeys and you will be very surprised - not just with your preconceived notions but with all the travel - but know GOD is with them both with whatever both of them go through - good or bad…. I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and Netgalley; all of the opinions expressed in this review are all my own. if you would like to read more of my Christian book reviews go to christianlybookreviewers.blogspot.com
arkieclown More than 1 year ago
THE HEART BETWEEN US by Lindsay Harrel is the story of two sisters, Heart Transplants, and the bucket list of a deceased teenager. Megan and Crystal Jacobs may be twins but they seemed to be complete opposites. Megan was born with a bad heart that plagued her with medical problems just about all her life leaving her on the sidelines or in the hospital and finally almost to her dead-bed only to be given another chance through a heart transplant.. Crystal had participated in sports, went on to college, had a husband and a rewarding career but still felt out of sorts unable to deal with her feelings of the past or to look to the future. After coaxing from Caleb, a friend and a fellow heart transplant recipient, Megan decides to make connection with her heart donor’s family for some sort of closure. Her heart donor was Amanda, the teenage daughter of Charlene and Gary Abbott. However, instead of a closure, it opens up a whole world of adventure after Megan reads her donor’s journal to heart and decides to fulfill her bucketlist. This means leaving the security of her home and parents and travelling to the far corners of the earth but she knows that she has to do it – for Amanda and for herself. Crystal is going through some tough times of her own – trouble in her marriage, being unable to be productive at work and needing to deal with her feelings of the past. At the urging of her husband, she decides to take the trip with Megan hoping to mend their twin relationship, ease her Mother’s worry on Megan travelling afar and to find answers for herself. They have an extraordinary, fabulous trip seeing sights to give them memories of a lifetime. Along the way they were able to find their way through the past, realizing that the other’s life wasn’t as rosy as they though and finding their way back to being sisters. The sisters are visited by the men, Caleb and Brian, in their lives along the way which makes each of them think about how much they love their guys and what direction they want the future to go. After arriving back home, Megan realizes that the “ending” she thought she would feel upon completing Amanda’s list wasn’t as satisfying as she thought it would be. It wasn’t until she realizes that SHE needed to complete the whole list herself and she does item 25 herself is the journey complete for her. This book is emotionally charged. While turning the pages, you learn about family, working through problems by seeing all sides of a situation, that things worth having are worth fighting and working for, that faith is not only believing but turning over control and that love is worth taking a chance on. This is the first book by Lindsay Harrel that I’ve read. However, after reading THE HEART BETWEEN US, it definitely won’t be the last. She has an amazing way of putting word to paper that lead you on your own journey as you turn the pages. I would highly recommend this to anyone that likes a clean, Christian book to read with adventure, romance and lessons to learn along the way.
Mylittlebirdie More than 1 year ago
The synopsis of The Heart Between Us makes you think that the book was going to be primarily centered around Megan's journey around the world, but at least half of the story was about her twin sister, Crystal. The dual viewpoint in the story helped me to see both sides of the girls' relationship. It was exciting to see Megan come out of her shell and learn more about herself and what she wanted out of life. In some ways I was more drawn into Crystal's story, though. I feel like I got a better glimpse of her weaknesses and her struggles than I did of Megan's. Maybe this was because the story takes place three years after Megan's heart transplant, and most of her health struggles are in the past. This story has so many themes: overcoming fear, moving past trauma, having or being a chronically ill family member, and correctly aligning our priorities. I feel like this story is very relatable since we all have struggles in life and have to learn how to prioritize our relationships with God and with those around us. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a light read that still has depth and true heart. ***I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and am under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
When you think about it medical technology has come a long way in the way of being able to offer patients the ability to have a heart transplant. The one thing sustaining life within all of us can at any time and without any reason, suddenly stop working. There isn't a reset button or the ability to power cycle a human being like we can with technology but to take a once beating heart from one person and transplant it in someone else is truly a miracle in of itself. Megan Jacobs is just such a person. Struggling with growing up her entire life watching the life she wished she could have be lived out in her twin Crystal. She had to be the one carefully watched by not only her friends but her family who understood the implications of living with a weak heart. Who could fault any of them for wanting to make sure she didn't overexert herself trying to play sports, the one who spent most of her time in hospital beds than her own. Who could even blame Megan for wanting everything she felt denied to her all because of something she was born with and couldn't change. This would be a pattern that would set itself up for both girls during their adult life as well. Megan would remain the secluded single girl taking the only job that offered no health risks, a librarian while her sister gets the perfect life of following her dreams and starting her own family. Yet when she is given the opportunity of a life time to receive a donor heart from a young girl named Amanda, she wants to make a connection to know who the girl was that lost her life so she could have a chance at another one for herself. Amanda's parents gift her with a journal in which Amanda wrote a Bucket List of all the things she wished she could have done but unfortunately never had the time to do. Megan finds that she can gift them both by following her dream to travel and visit the places Amanda always wished she could go. But will she be able to convince her parents to let up on the tight reins that have kept over her life to allow her to live the new one God had blessed her with? I received The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel compliments of TLC Book Tours and Thomas Nelson Publishers. I absolutely LOVE this novel because it conveys so many of the emotions one can feel being on both sides of the fence. To love a daughter enough you'd do anything to keep her safe, and for the one who wants to experience all life has to offer even if it only lasts just one more day. Will Amanda's heart heal more than just one person in the process at giving Megan a new start at a life she could only dream about before? Pick this one up to find out. I easily give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars in this reader's opinion.
annelr More than 1 year ago
The Heart Between us is a heartbreaking and heartwarming contemporary romance story. A story of healing--physical, emotional and relational. Will Megan and Crystal, estranged twins, be able to find the connection that will resolve past hurts and fears? The author portrays realistic emotions and struggles that readers will relate to. She writes a compelling story with strong characters, sensory-rich prose, an exciting adventure, and a charming romance. The Heart Between Us is a multifaceted story of consequences and grace, of abandonment and healing, of fears and faith in a God who loves to give second chances--a story you won't want to miss. I listened to a library copy of the audio version of the book and Emily Sutton-Smith does a nice job with the narration, making for an enjoyable listening experience.
ASimplyEnchantedLife More than 1 year ago
I'm going to just go ahead and admit that I'm not usually crazy about contemporary fiction. But this cover was adorable and the synopsis pulled me right in. I was very pleasantly surprised! I actually really liked this book! I wouldn't be surprised if this book is picked up for a lifetime movie. Seriously, it has all the makings—a troubled past, an uncertain future and the sweetest romance. In The Heart Between Us, there is a young woman who had a heart transplant. She's convinced that to get her own life on track, she must fulfill the bucket list that belonged to her donor. As the story progresses, we find out that the donor had her own sad story. Her parents are struggling to cope with losing their daughter. They support Megan's decision to complete their daughter's list. Last, The Heart Between us has one of the sweetest romances that I've read in a while. I was rooting for Caleb from the moment Megan bumped into him at a fundraiser. They were absolutely adorable together. The only reason I give this book a four star instead of a five is that it was more of a clean read than Christfic. There's very little faith content and the characters are seen drinking and skinny dipping on one occasion. The book was in no way inappropriate but it also wasn't overly faith-filled...until the end. By that point, it felt so disjointed to me. You have these characters that struggle with life and faith until suddenly everything is completely right. But that took place without a conversion. I didn't see conviction or a gradual work of the Lord in their hearts. One day the girls were miserable and the next it was miraculously all better after a little Jesus. I mean, yes, Jesus makes all things better but I didn't really see Jesus in this book. Overall, I still enjoyed the book. Had the faith content felt less forced and disjointed, I could have given this book a five-star. I would definitely read this author again. Though this book is not a genre that I would typically read, I'm very glad that I picked up the book. The Heart Between Us is an emotionally gripping book that's perfect for readers who love contemporary chick-lit. This book was provided to me by BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. All opinions are my own.