A Family for Luke

[openbook booknumber=”0373813902″]


The victim of a bad upbringing, Luke has always wanted a family he could rely on. His mother was often absent from his life, and before CPS finally removed him from her care, he ended up feeling rejected and abandoned more often than not. His foster father was loving and caring and introduced him to the concepts of love, acceptance, forgiveness and a real family. His foster father’s death a few years ago left Luke feeling abandoned and rejected all over again and so he leaves the church and immerses himself in work, that is until he meets with widow Janie and her three children. Janie has problems of her own in her life. She is struggling to be the superwoman that does everything: mother, small business owner, home maker and, most importantly, financially independent in the wake of her husband’s massive debts. He sees in her a realization of all his dreams of a perfect family come true when he needs it most, she sees in him a distraction and an upset to her already chaotic and far from perfect life at a time when she needs it least. What follows is a novel about forgiveness, family, and faith.

This is a very strongly Christian novel. There are strong themes about what to do with, and how to approach, a life with God. There are prayers and bible verses quoted throughout and several discussions by the main characters about faith, church, and God. All of the events in the book are viewed through this lense and some of the topics are a little controversial, especially for a christian novel, though the wording was always very discrete. The topics covered, in no particular order, included child abuse and neglect, pre-marital sex, children out of wedlock, divorce, teen pregnancy, abortion, foster care and adoption, alcoholism, underage drinking, drug abuse, gambling, spousal abuse, and domestic violence.

I’m like a shark,” Janie said. “I need to keep moving or die, which means I need to expand-” she stopped there. Her own father’s business was successful mainly because he kept expanding, kept moving onward and upward. The only difference was Dan Westerveld didn’t have a spouse who gambled away all available equity in the house and business.
       But Janie kept that information to herself. Neither her sister nor her parents knew how dire her financial situation was.
       “What do you mean? And you’re kind of struggling as it is.”
       “And that’s why I need to expand. I’m just trying to make sure I can sustain my current lifestyle, which is hardly extravagant.”
       “I’ll say. I can’t believe that beater of a car of yours is still running.”
       “Regular maintenance helps.” And prayer, Janie thought. Something she spent a lot of time on these days.

I almost gave up on this book several times. I went into it with the half-belief that it was going to be a terribly unrealistic rendering of a relationship where the widow desperately accepts the charms of the handsome, single, wanna-be family man, and for that reason nearly didn’t pick up the book to even start it. When that illusion was shattered I became hooked but I almost dropped the book when I became worried about yet another The Texas Ranger’s Twins repeat. Let’s not start on that rant again, eh? Then, it soon became clear it wasn’t. The last several chapters drew me in and I had forgiven the author for all her imagined transgressions by the time I reached the end.

There were times though when the mother and daughter both nearly drove me up a wall. Mostly for the same reasons. They were both obstinate and head strong and they both desperately wanted independence, at the expense of any familial relationships they might have otherwise engendered to their betterment. I also could hear Supernanny in the back of my head explaining everywhere this woman was going wrong with her kids and how she could go about fixing it. In the end though the character was very realistically portrayed as too overworked to think about what she was doing and I appreciated that realism about her. I’m also glad that I read The Sound of a Silver Horn before I read this or I might have taken a very different view on things. I could see how harmful being a “superwoman” was first hand in this book.

I ended up giving this novel only three stars, first off, because there were several very glaring errors that an editor really should have caught. I normally forgive the first three, but everyone I see after that just detracts that much more from my reading of it and there were at least half a dozen if not more. Second, it is standard romance, so the plot line followed a very standard formula that I was very familiar with. Finally, there is being stubborn and then there is being down right obstinate and I believe the heroine in this novel pretty solidly fell into the second category. Yes, pay people back when they do some yard work for you, but if they break something on your property and replace it don’t offer to pay for it to “assuage your pride”, at that point you’re just being pigheaded.

So, fans of romantic Christian fiction interested in a couple that seriously test their faith and rely heavily on prayer, bible passages and heart felt, faith filled discussions to see them through will enjoy this book, at least to a degree. Be prepared for the very real, if tastefully worded, depictions of the above listed controversial topics. You will find all that and more in this book that comes right down to, at the very heart of it, forgiveness.

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