Author Gail Dayton reviewed this book for the RITA® Reader Challenge. This novel was nominated in the Best Inspirational Romance category.
The plot summary: Marnie Wittier has life just where she wants it. Quiet. Peaceful. No drama. A long way away from her past. In the privacy of her home, she fills a box with slips of paper, scribbled with her regrets, sins, and sorrows. But that’s nobody else’s business. Her bookstore/coffee shop patrons, her employees, her friends from church—they all think she’s the very model of compassion and kindness.
Then Marnie’s past creeps into her present when her estranged sister dies and makes Marnie guardian of her fifteen-year-old son—a boy Marnie never knew existed. And when Emmit arrives, she discovers he has Down syndrome—and that she’s woefully unprepared to care for him. What’s worse, she has to deal with Taylor Cole, her sister’s attorney, a man Marnie once loved—and abandoned.
As Emmit (and Taylor) work their way into her heart, Marnie begins to heal. But when pieces of her dismal past surface again, she must at last face the scripts of paper in her box, all the regrets and sorrows. Can she do it? Or will she run again?
And now, Gail’s review:
The heroine’s life is just as she wants it. So what if she has a box full of regrets—written on whatever paper is handy at the moment of regret, and stuffed through a slot in the box—she keeps locked up on a high shelf. Then her life is overturned when she gets a letter from a man she thought she’d locked away in the box, informing her that her sister has died and she’s been named guardian to her teenaged nephew.
Much of the story is told in flashback, as her regrets are hauled into the open and she is forced to deal with everything she tried to leave behind, including the man she once loved.
Some inspirational romances are “inspirational” in the Christianity that pervades the characters’ lives, with little to no overt “preaching” to the readership. Others seem to be as much treatises on Christian doctrine as fictional stories about these particular characters. This is one of the latter, with passages about forgiveness and second chances and much more. And yet, very little of it felt out of place or jarring. It’s a moving story and the spiritual moments fit—though on a few occasions, I thought they went on a teensy bit too long. Still, it is a good story. I liked it quite a bit.