Saturday, May 29, 2021

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "Let It Be Me" by Becky Wade


Book Summary (Amazon)The one woman he wants is the one he cannot have.

Former foster kid Sebastian Grant has leveraged his intelligence and hard work to become a pediatric heart surgeon. But not even his career success can erase the void he's tried so hard to fill. Then he meets high school teacher Leah Montgomery and his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop. He falls hard, only to make a devastating discovery--Leah is the woman his best friend set his heart on months before.

Leah's a math prodigy who's only ever had one big dream--to earn her PhD. Raising her little brother put that dream on hold. Now that her brother will soon be college bound, she's not going to let anything stand in her way. Especially romance . . . which is far less dependable than algebra.

When Leah receives surprising results from the DNA test she submitted to a genealogy site, she solicits Sebastian's help. Together, they comb through hospital records to uncover the secrets of her history. The more powerfully they're drawn to each other, the more strongly Sebastian must resist, and the more Leah must admit that some things in life--like love--can't be explained with numbers.

My thoughts... This is the second book in the Misty River series, set in the north GA mountains. As a native Georgian, I will say that this is not necessarily a "southern" book (no thick accents or a lot of southern culture as a part of the story), just a story set in the Atlanta/north of Atlanta area. There is some appreciated diversity in the characters, as Sebastian's best friend and family is African American. I wanted a little more distinction as I have personally experienced a unique warmth and culture from the African American community, but I also thought it was good that the characters meshed together so well.

 A big theme in this book is abandonment. Both Sebastian and Leah have had to live a lot of their lives independent of the love and support of immediate family, and both had traumatic experiences that led to their abandonment. Sebastian did have a surrogate family with his best friend, Ben, and his loyalty to them is powerful. This creates the initial tension in the discovery that he and Ben share a mutual attraction to Leah. Both characters have also tried, to great extremes, to fill the voids in their lives that their abandonment has caused. This adds to the tension as both Ben and Leah's lives are turned around through their relationship with each other and as Leah learns of her DNA results. I liked that Ben takes a risk to follow his heart in pursuing Leah. He doesn't always know how to do that, but he knows from the first moment that he saw her that he wanted to try. Ben was an easy character to enjoy in this story. Handsome, smart, driven, romantic....and the list goes on! I struggled a little to connect with Leah's character at first. She was forced at a young age, due to the selfishness of others who should've protected her, to become an adult. It drastically affected her and the choices she makes, which for me, were sometimes hard to relate to. I did appreciate the journey that both she and Sebastian's characters went on, as well as the detail that was put into creating their story. 

I'm a forever Becky Wade fan, and I haven't read one yet that I didn't love or appreciate. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series!

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in order to share my honest opinion, which I did.**

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "All That Really Matters" by Nicole Deese


Book Summary...Molly McKenzie's bright personality and on-trend fashion and beauty advice have earned her an impressive social media following, as well as a shiny monthly paycheck. When her manager-turned-boyfriend tells her of an upcoming audition to host a makeover show for America's underprivileged youth, all her dreams finally seem to be coming true. There's just one catch: she has little experience interacting with people in need.
To gain an edge on her competitors, she applies to volunteer at a transitional program for aged-out foster kids during summer, only the program's director, Silas Whittaker, doesn't find her as charming as her followers do. But since forfeiting a goal has never been her style, Molly's only option is to accept the terms Silas lays out and submit to his rules--even the most ridiculous ones pertaining to social media.  

Soon as the residents of the home become more than a means to pad her career resume, and Silas becomes more than an obstacle on her path to fame, her once-narrow focus expands to include the deep needs of those she's serving... and perhaps the ones she's neglected inside herself as well. It took years to build her platform, but only one summer to discover what really matters most.

My thoughts...I've seen Nicole Deese's name pop up as a contemporary Christian author, but this is the first book of hers that I've read. The summary sounded interesting, and I've found that I'm gravitating more toward contemporary Christian fiction lately, so I branched out. SO glad I did! I loved this book! As it is written from both Molly and Silas' points of view, you get a well-rounded perspective. Molly was such a likeable, fun character. She had her flaws, which made her relatable. Silas also had all of the great characteristics of an attractive hero. Physically and more. Both characters showed growth through the story, which in this genre includes spiritual growth. The way Molly was able to see past her own struggles and open her eyes to the needs of others was beautiful, and Silas was there supporting her journey while going on his own. The theme of forgiveness was central to the story, which is so relevant for today's readers. I would definitely recommend this book and I personally look forward to reading more of Nicole's work!

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give an honest review, which I did.**