RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Katie’s Way by Marta Perry


Title: Katie's Way
Author: Marta Perry
Publication Info: Berkley 2011
ISBN: 978-0425243220
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Katie's Way This review was written by Stacey Agdern. This story was nominated in the Best Inspirational Romance categories.

The summary:     

After a thwarted romance, Katie Miller starts over by moving to Pleasant Valley and opening a quilt shop. Soon Amish and Englisch turn the store into a lively spot…to the consternation of Caleb Brand, who crafts furniture next door. Then Katie's sister joins her, to escape rumors of her wild rumspringa, and Katie feels the burden of responsibility for a restless teenager.

Even worse, her efforts to bring more people to Main Street arouse resistance among local businesses. When acts of vandalism threaten Katie's shop, she turns to Caleb for comfort, and their friendship deepens. But will Caleb's secret past prevent him from embracing a future with Katie? Or will their fragile romance develop the strength to last a lifetime?

And here is Stacey's review:

This is the 5th Marta Perry Book I’ve read, so I felt confident I’d like this one.  My confidence, thankfully was not misplaced.  Would I like this book to win the RITA in the inspirational category? Absolutely.  But do I think it will?  I don’t know.  The uncertainty I have comes from the fact that what I search for as a reader is probably (okay, most likely) not what the judges in this category are searching for.

Up front and center, I can tell you that even though the book is an inspirational, the biblical and spiritual lessons it teaches are in the background.  They are reachable if you wish to touch them, but won’t harm your enjoyment of the story if you don’t. In fact, Perry’s ability to tell an inspirational story without overtly preaching to her readers is one of the reasons that I’ve been able to read  5 of her books.  I can enjoy the characters as they take their clearly spiritual journey without feeling as if I am being preached to.  And for the sake of being a yardstick in this matter, I have an extremely low tolerance for being preached to in a faith outside of my own.

Katie’s Way, at it’s core, is about rebirth , recovery and renewal after love has ended.  A widow, a young woman still recovering from the marriage of the man she was supposed to marry (to her best friend) and a young man who stays away from society after being jilted in a spectacular way by the woman he was supposed to marry, each find their own way back to life and love through it’s pages.

Katie, our heroine, opens her quilt shop in the village of Pleasant Valley.  From the beginning, it is beset by disaster. And through it all, her doubts about whether she belongs there are met with the fact that she is becoming a large part of the community.

Her struggles are paralleled with those of the young man who is set up to be the hero of the book.  After being jilted (spoiler: after finding out that the woman who’d left him, then the community was actually PREGNANT), Caleb Brand stays away from the community, for fear that his reputation precedes him.  But he cannot help being drawn to Katie.  A newcomer, she is free from the knowledge and gossip that follows him. And so despite the fact that he fights it, he feels better about letting himself be drawn in to the struggles that affect both her quilt shop and his neighboring woodworking store.

But when Katie’s young sister becomes the center of the Amish community’s gossip, Caleb would have turned away.  Except for one big problem: his mother.  Not in the way one would think, thankfully.  It’s that she’s just starting to enjoy life once more…all thanks to Katie and the quilting classes she’s hosting.

So you have quilting classes, which serve as a wonderfully drawn intersection between non-Amish and Amish people, a lovely little town, even a suspense plot that didn’t make this well-read thriller reader go ballistic.  There are even the  kind of drop-in appearances by characters from previous books in the series that enhance the story while not serving as a distraction .

Which brings me, unfortunately, to the one problem I had with the book.  One of the things I adore about Amish Romances is the author’s ability to infuse the smallest of  touches with the spark of a thousand suns.  It’s that chemistry, that genuine ‘ohmygod’ feeling when the hero and the heroine touch, that makes a reader understand that there will be a wedding in their future (even if they don’t.)  Here?  That ohmygod moment doesn’t occur until 90% of the way through the book (even though hero and heroine have been fighting feelings and touching for a while already.)

Yes, you can argue that this isn’t supposed to be the central point of the book, as it is, you know, an inspirational.  But my argument is that this book is also a romance, a story about two people falling in love with each other, as well as their faith.. And if you have to wait until 90% of the book is over to feel that this couple has those sparks, does it succeed as a romance?

              Because Marta Perry is such a talented author, my answer would be absolutely yes.  I don’t even think this would bother me so much if I hadn’t read FIVE of her books already.  But in a scene that reminds me of my favorite Johanna Lindsey historical (The Magic of You, read it NOW),  Marta Perry pulls her magic and does this:

              “And that’s when I knew I’d been wrong about the most important thing.”

              “What is that?”  She whispered the words, the color coming up in her fine, smooth skin.

              “When I told you that I had no love left to give anyone else because of Mattie.  Because if I didn’t, then how could my heart break at the hurt to you?” He brushed her fingertips to his lips, seeming to feel that light touch through his body like a lightening strike. “I have known you only a month, Katie Miller, but I have never known anyone better than I know you. I love you. Don’t go away.”

And there it is.  It works.  It’s gorgeous, and dear god it made me cry (and yes, I am a sap…).  It was like at that very moment, Caleb just let go.  Of all the feelings and concerns and worries and…etc, that he’d been grappling with through the book, and gave in to the idea of love.  And THAT is romance.  Because you feel him just completely loosing it, over the fact she might not be there.  It is beautiful.

So do I think it will win the RITA? I don’t know.  But I darn well hope so. 

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo.

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