I don’t normally post my reviews this late in the day, and I have another book in the wings that I’ve already finished, but instead, I dropped everything to read the rest of A Change of Heart.
This is an odd book and not just because it’s an inspirational Christian romance. The writer in me found the writing rough at times and there are a lot of mundane details that are unnecessary. In a lesser story, these would have undermined my enjoyment, but in this one, the excessive details, especially the mundane moments, built a real-people picture of families, good and bad, and how the people around you can be part of the problem or the solution.
Ethan and Makayla couldn’t be more different. Ethan is the only son of a widower who remarried after years of neglecting his child and had a daughter only to neglect her as well while his wife seems to have as little interest in Sierra. Makayla is one of a Brady Bunch family with a large collection of brothers and sisters who pretty much all care deeply for each other. They spend time together both while working at the family business and after hours, and they are very much involved in each other’s lives.
While a romance is ostensibly about a man and a woman finding love, A Change of Heart is so much more than that. It’s about defining family as the people you love rather than requiring a biological imperative. It’s about learning to depend on others after a lifetime of having to stand alone. It’s about making the sacrifices necessary to ensure the wellbeing of those you love even when (especially when) doing so takes you far from your comfort zone.
The story is relatively low-key…until it isn’t…but the stressors are very realistic and easy to identify with. Makayla doesn’t like change. It’s strange, disorienting, and undermines her safe space. Ethan has rarely experienced change when he has worked for the same company since high school, all to earn enough so he can help his little sister. There’s a huge crisis point I won’t say anything about except to state it’s well seeded in what has come before and absolutely worked to complicate the situation.
The cast is huge, but as Bennett, one of Makayla’s brothers, says at one point, there won’t be a quiz. We meet Makayla’s family in bits and pieces, while they’re different enough that many become clear and distinct. I can see the potential for a lot of complicated stories here.
I feel like I’m dropping stones in a pond, trying not to reveal too much while trying to give you a feel for the book. If you’re looking for alpha characters full of confidence with arrogance that needs to be torn down, you’ll be thoroughly disappointed. Instead, you get two dedicated, cautious people with very good reasons to stay apart, and only their own hearts to draw them together.
And as I mentioned, it is an inspirational. I’d probably be stunned if I counted up all the moments of prayer, pleas to God, and such simply because it doesn’t stand out in a bad way. These are clearly people of faith not because of habit but because they sense God’s presence in their daily lives, whether what’s happening is good or bad. The inclusion of this element is very natural and well done. It is neither an afterthought nor proselytizing, something I appreciate.
Perhaps these notes reveal both why the reader me overwhelmed any writerly concerns, and I certainly hope so. As strange as it may sound when I’ve called most of the story low-key, this is a powerful read that pulled my emotional strings in both joy and pain. Ethan and Makayla are not simple people with simple needs. They are complex, complicated, and well worth spending time with. These are the types of people you should want surrounding you, not just the leads, but all of those Makayla considers family (related or not), and of course, Ethan’s little sister Sierra.