My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I’m probably not the target audience for this book, as I don’t read romances and I’m not a big fan of dogs.

What I liked:
The author is an excellent wordsmith. Her writing is remarkable, both in the beauty of the prose and the depth of emotion it evokes. And while I don’t read romances, I’m guessing this book has quite a bit more action than a typical romance. It held my interest as well as most best-selling novels, especially toward the end.

Most of all, I loved the way the author honored God throughout the book. She allows the characters who argue against Christianity to make strong, persuasive arguments, then deals with them well.
My favorite line in the book: “God’s best gifts usually come as a surprise, often packaged in problems and trials. They are things we never could have planned ourselves even if we knew we needed them.” For me, it was worth listening to the whole book just for that line.

The narrator of the audiobook is outstanding. Having narrated books myself, I will say, I wish I had a fraction of her skill.

What I didn’t like:

I thought the descriptions of the main character’s attraction to her love interest was a bit overdone. The descriptions of her reactions to seeing him seemed much too frequent to me, and it’s hard for me to imagine a woman could have such extreme responses of attraction toward someone she so dislikes (then again, I know very little about romance writing and even less about female emotions, so take that critique with a grain of salt).

As a pastor, father, and counselor, I didn’t like the fact that it is a story of a romance between a believer and an unbeliever. I realize Christian authors have constraints when dealing with secular publishing houses, so I don’t mean this as a criticism of the author. But since I’m not restrained by the publisher as a reviewer, I’ll say it is my conviction that such relationships are ill-advised and lead to the destruction of the believer’s faith more often than they bring the unbeliever to faith. And even when that does happen, it rarely lasts, as the movement toward God is powered by attraction to the other person, and when that fades, so does the “faith.” I’ve counseled a lot of people in very hard marriages because they thought their relationship with an unbeliever would have a storybook ending. They rarely do. See 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 for God’s attitude toward close relationships with unbelievers.

More significantly, (spoiler alert) I was disappointed with the way a conversion to Christianity was portrayed, as there was no indication that repentance played any role. I got the impression from the story that a person could be saved simply by agreeing to let God be her protector. I believe Scripture is clear about the necessity of repentance for salvation (Acts 17:30, 20:21).

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