Before becoming a Christian, Mark Ryker ran with a bad crowd and broke hearts. Including his father's.
Now a successful businessman, Mark has come home to Corinthia, Georgia, to make amends. But no one will forgive him.
So when the widowed mother of four renting his dad's run-down house needs help fixing up the place, Mark gets to work.
Pretty Hannah Hughes and her sweet kids have him longing to be part of the clan, but Hannah isn't ready to let go of the past. Still, they are working together on a house full of hope–and that's all Mark needs.
And here is Emily's review:
When I first saw the cover of this book, I was a little…. Normally the cover would make me not want to read this book: too cutesy, saccharine, etc. On the other hand, the cover is mainly accurate with the book, and the cover team did well in that regard. Surprisingly this book worked for me, because the hero and heroine were sympathetic; the conflict was real and so were some of the details.
Hannah is the much-dumped-on heroine, which is a trope I like. Life has seriously battered Hannah. It started when she was young. Her sister developed severe drug and alcohol problems, her parents separated, her father left while she and mom moved to a homeless shelter. Eventually she got married, but she and her husband struggled for money, even before he got cancer and died. He left her with four young children to raise as a single parent without any savings and only her abrasive mother for help. I am tired just writing it out.
So Hannah put her “darling children” on a pedestal to a certain extent, because that’s how she gets out of bed in the morning. She works as a bank manager and really struggles with being a single mom. Her children are cute, but then 6-9 are the best ages for kids in my opinion. While the kids may be a little too cookie cutter, I did feel like they had individual personalities. (That’s hard to do in book this short.)
Mark’s teen years were equally rocky. His family fell apart after his twin brother died. He started drinking to deal with the pain. The conflict between them is natural and unforced. Mark also does something at the end which made me really mad at him, but he actually realizes it’s a mistake. It causes character growth which is something SB Sarah thinks is really important. (SB Sarah: it's true, I do!) (I don’t care about character growth since sometimes it seems to have less to do with growth and more about changing character’s values or beliefs or giving up parts of themselves to be more generic. In this case, the author did a good job with Mark’s growth. He started to develop conflict-handling skills, and it seemed more about growing up than changing who he was.)
At several points I didn’t like the direction the book was heading in, but it surprised me and resolved the problems in ways I liked. I felt that the addiction issues were done with broad strokes. I didn’t get the feeling like the author really understood addiction in a deep way. (Hannah’s sister Sydney is a recovering addict and Mark also had alcohol problems.) I wish Mark’s friends and business associates from his current hometown were treated like he cared about them. It was unresolved that many of the townspeople in Hannah’s hometown were really judgmental of Mark. There were some technical issues with the timeline that made me confused. Most of these were minor flaws and some had to do with the length. I thought this book was ok and I understood why it was nominated.