“I wish you wouldn’t let the church come between you and God. The people may never change, but that doesn’t mean you can’t,” Ruthie is told in Varina Denman’s novel, Jaded.
~ What ~
First in the Mended Hearts series, this three-hundred-forty-two-page paperback targets those who enjoy contemporary romantic fiction. With a couple of slang words and no overtly sexual scenes, topics of physical abuse, rape, and unplanned pregnancy may not be appropriate for immature readers. A note to the reader, acknowledgments, book club discussion guide, excerpt from the next book in the series, and the author’s biography are after the conclusion.
In this current day tale set in the fictitious small town of Trapp, Texas, twenty-year-old Ruthie Turner has lived with shame and abandonment for the past thirteen years. After her father left and she and her mother were kicked out of the local Christian church, the hard-working but insecure young woman has vowed to keep away from anyone involved in the religion.
It is not until Dodd Cunningham, his mother, and younger brother come to the small town and Dodd is the new preacher that Ruthie becomes tested in her beliefs. As he falls in love with this fascinating woman, she tries to skirt around the actions and lies told by the church’s elders and families, but Dodd does not believe her. It is only when the truth finally surfaces that the two can consider a relationship.
~ Why ~
Written in both first person and third person, the sad but believable storyline shows how forgiveness has to start from within when dealing with relationships. I like how Ruthie’s cousin, a work friend, and Dodd’s mother’s characters were explained. With personal problems constantly surfacing, the book draws the reader into wondering what happens to the town’s residences in the next book in the series.
~ Why Not ~
Some readers may prefer books that are not based in current day or have a Christian theme to them. Others may find a series hard to read if not done in order, but this one can be read as a stand-alone. I found two important characters stereotyped, making one the untrustworthy villain and the other a teen quoting Scriptures during any altercation.
~ Who ~
This being the author’s first novel, Denman is a teacher of creative writing and literature. As a home educator, she lives in North Texas with her husband and five mostly grown children. The writer has written two following books in the series and won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award for this novel.
~ Wish ~
Having read the second book in the series first, I wish I hadn’t as I had to reread my review on the sequel so knew in advance where the story was going on this one. It would have been better if Ruthie did not flip-flop so often on her emotions toward Dodd.
~ Want ~
If you want to read a contemporary Christian romance series that focus on forgiveness of others and oneself as well as broken hearts that are mended, this is a good beginning to a trilogy.
Thanks to Radiantlit for this book to read and review.
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GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.