This is a sweet inspirational romance story about waiting for the right person to be ready and finding the courage to trust in another’s goodness. I appreciated the role bullying, or more to the point, anti-bullying efforts played, though the topic was simplified so it wouldn’t take over the story. The underlying messages about not making assumptions and being open to the good parts as much as you are wary of the risks both speak to me. That and not letting past darkness cover your future.
Rebekah is so determined to protect herself that she has forgotten she’s not alone in this journey. She works as a school counselor, hoping to protect other young people from what she experienced. Though she gives lip service to the recognition of how she’d stepped away from God and the support of her neighbors in the beginning, it takes a bit of struggle before she actually listens to the service she’s so good about going to and opens herself to new chances instead of assuming everyone, God included, would reject her as tainted.
Wade, her former boyfriend who she rejected without warning a few years earlier, is verging on becoming a stalker as he tries to get her to either try again or tell him why she won’t after fate brings them back together. But he takes a step back, remembers the presentation he gave to the students at her school about bullying, and gives her the space to come to the right answer for herself, whether or not it includes him.
Rebekah is torn from the very beginning, pushing Wade away then jealous when other women show interest, and it takes time for her to come to terms with the contradiction. Her growth is clear, though, from making real friends for the first time to accepting she deserves to be loved, both by God and by those people who love her. She has some real pain in her past that she’s allowed to tarnish her present and future, but when she commits to heal, it feels right not just in allowing her to have a relationship with Wade but also for her work.
This is a complex story about past injuries that festered in the dark, and very much a coming into her own for Rebekah. She’s helped along the way both by Wade’s patience, and the gentle counseling from her pastor and his wife. There’s too much to cover in the story’s length, so while the plot came together a little faster than I expected, this is mostly due to a time jump during which, presumably, they continued on their slow discovery of trust and understanding in each other.
The characters are complicated and richly drawn as I’ve come to expect, and the conflict is deep and very real, so though Rebekah’s jealousy bugged me when she’d pushed Wade away, I both understood it better, and was happier with the resolution as I learned more of her circumstances. Wade, on the other hand, is the right kind of persistent without overwhelming Rebekah’s right to make a decision, even if he slipped a little at first.
The story reminded me of why I enjoy reading Valerie Comer’s books while the welcoming neighborhood filled with interesting people makes me want to explore this new-to-me series.