Book Review: What Hope Remembers

What Hope Remembers – Johnnie Alexander – Misty Willow #3 – Revell – Published 2 May 2017

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Synopsis

When Amy Somers loses her job as a lobbyist, she moves to Misty Willow, well aware that she’s crossing bridges she’d burned years before. With all the mistakes she’s made and the uncaring things she’s done–even to her own family–she can hardly believe that happiness will find her, especially when Gabe Kendall, her first crush and her first kiss, rides back into her life atop a buckskin mare.

A former Marine, Gabe is at loose ends after serving a prison sentence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees beyond Amy’s hard exterior to the girl he once knew and loved, and he longs to see her open her heart. Yet with his vision clouded by shame for his past and fears about the future, he finds it difficult to see the path ahead.

But the memory of that long-ago kiss just may have the power to reignite a romance that brings out the best in both of them.

My thoughts

To say I was excited to read this book would be a massive understatement. I have loved both books in the Misty Willow series so far and the books just keep getting better, so I knew What Hope Remembers was going to be awesome. I was right – it is certainly a beautiful story. Amy and Gabe are characters who both have so many issues to overcome and their story of reconnection is founded in the sweet love of their adolescence.

Gabe has returned to his Aunt’s farm after many years away, first deployed overseas and then in prison. The farm is now rundown and vastly different from that of his childhood memories. But his aunt’s love remains the same and the community is far more welcoming than he ever dreamed. But the biggest surprise comes when he learns that Amy, his first love and the woman who has always held a place in his heart, has also returned to Misty Willow. Amy has decided to leave her old life behind. She is ashamed of who she has become and yet doesn’t know what to do to turn her life around. Rebuilding the relationships with her brother and cousin and their wives seems a good place to start. As Amy and Gabe reconnect they have many secrets and fears to face, while an outside threat attempts to keep them from rekindling their childhood romance.

We got the first glimpse of Amy’s story in the previous two books in this series, particularly in When Love Arrives, when Amy collapses and is abandoned by her boyfriend, a married senator. Amy is fighting an eating disorder, as well as the grief and fears of her childhood that she has long-buried beneath a cold exterior and battling for success in the corporate world. Her choices have distanced her from her family, when being abandoned is what she fears most. Coming face-to-face with Gabe Kendell is certainly unexpected, as is the sudden rush of emotions she feels. She isn’t sure someone like Gabe would ever want a woman with her past, while Gabe has the exact same reaction.

What Hope Remembers was an unexpected story and took many unexpected turns. I enjoyed the majority of it, but I was a little disappointed with the ending. There were so many issues the characters faced in the story and while the big one was resolved it was the little, but I think more important, ones that were overlooked. For example, Amy spends the majority of the book hiding her recent past from Gabe, which prevents her from pursuing a relationship with him and yet it seems that by the end of the story she never actually has that important conversation with him. There were also other discussions they had about freedom and taking the time to decide what they both wanted to do in their lives and yet by the end they seem to have fallen into something and it’s not discussed again. But while I would have loved more of an ending, the book did conclude with a sweet simplicity that attests to the enduring nature of Amy and Gabe’s relationship.

The charm of Amy and Gabe’s romance rests in their history. A childhood connection, a first kiss, and a friendship rooted in pain and the solace found in each other’s company. It was enjoyable to see their friendship rekindled, and it was lovely to return to Misty Willow and reconnect with Brett, Dani, AJ, and Shelby.

Summer picnics, childhood memories, sweet romance, fears faced, heartbreak, horses, family, and even a good dose of suspense combine in this contemporary novel.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Fiction

Genre: Christian contemporary.

Themes:  Family, ex-cons, eating disorders, anorexia, horses, farms, arson, grief, fear, faith, romance.

Published:   2 May 2017 by Revell.

Format: Paperback, ebook. 352 pages.

ISBN: 9780800726423

Find it on Goodreads

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