Book Summary (Amazon): When the ever-cautious Val Locklier moves cross-country with her son for a secure job, everything she'd planned unravels within the first week. After Val reluctantly agrees to rent an apartment from her best friend's brother, an unexpected chance at an elite filmmakers' mentorship ignites fresh hope for a dream career. But as Val's community begins to expand, so do her insecurities, especially those heightened by her growing attraction to a certain friendly landlord.
Pastor Miles McKenzie returns home from a short-term mission trip to discover that not only does he have an intriguing new tenant living upstairs, he's also been reassigned to a local ministry on life support. Disillusioned and restless, he distracts himself by throwing his energy into a host of new projects--not the least of which is pursuing Val--without stopping to consider the future.
As Val struggles to stop hiding behind the camera and Miles wrestles with shattered expectations, they'll find that authentic love and sacrifice must go hand in hand.
The first book in this series, All That Really Matters, was a total home run for me. It was the first book I had ever read by Nicole Deese and I loved it. I couldn't wait for this book, the second in the series, to come out. Here are some things I really liked about this book:
The development of the main characters, Val and Miles, was great. They both started out as wounded people in several aspects, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. As the story went on, they found strength and growth through their relationship with each other, friends old and new, and their faith. This didn't come quickly or easily, but as a reader, I could relate to their struggles and appreciated how they worked through them. Their growth also encouraged me in different aspects of my own life.
I also liked the level of romantic tension in the book. As they share two floors of the same house, crossing paths, hearing each other walking around, help each other out, it builds up the connection between the characters as well as opportunities to experience conflict.
The only thing that I struggled with in this book was the bitterness Miles expresses about his ministry life, particularly in the beginning of the book. Maybe it's because it hit a little close to home (a story for another day), and I guess when you want to escape real life through fiction, you don't want to be faced with all of the hurt feelings and emotions that can sometimes come with ministry life. The author portrayed it well, it just kind of left a sour note with me and I struggled to shake it off as I was reading. By the end, there was a redemptive element to that part of the story, which I appreciated, but it was a bit hard won.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, but I would definitely say the first in the series is still a favorite.
**I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give honest review, which I did.**