Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

After reading and thoroughly enjoying the first two of Becky Wade's Porter Family series, I knew I wanted a chance to read her story about the third Porter brother, Jake.

I was not disappointed. This book kept me reading under my covers when I should have been sleeping. Becky Wade knows how to weave description and thought and dialogue and plot all together so that you don't WANT to skip any paragraphs. She also knows how to write romance. I found humor, tension, passion, difficulty, and a satisfying conclusion.

I did find it so odd how two people can be pursuing a relationship and have these passionate kisses and yet one character is telling herself it'll be okay as long as she doesn't fall in love. What??? That doesn't make Christian sense to me. What is the purpose of physical affection if it is not hand-in-hand with some level of commitment, preferably a trajectory of life-long commitment?

But that's a whole other post!

I received a free copy of  A Love Like Ours from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 4, 2015

158: expectations...seriously

That moment when you've been planning to begin your post with a link to an article, and then you check the article again and find the website celebrates the opposite of what you believe about marriage. Ok, so I'm not going to link to the article. Plan B.

Let's look at the quintessential chick flick! I mean the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, of course!

We never really get to see Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's courting relationship because they never really have one. They go from slightly cordial acquaintances to marriage. But because they are truly in love, the expectation is that Elizabeth will never again be bothered by Mr. Darcy's social aloofness and lack of tact, and Mr. Darcy will always find Lizzy's lively wit to be charming. Right? Does this relationship between two very different people take any work at all?

I like this anecdote from the beginning of their actual relationship (post-do-I-like-him drama and pre-riding-off-in-a-carriage marriage): "Elizabeth longed to observe [to Darcy, sarcastically] that Mr. Bingley had been a most delightful friend; so easily guided that his worth was invaluable; but she checked herself. She remembered that he [Darcy] had yet to learn to be laughed at, and it was rather too early to begin." (Chapter 58, Pride and Prejudice)

Me thinks even in this quintessential romance of incandescent happiness, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy will both need to put some work into it.

All that to say, even though I'm not Lizzy, I am in a relationship that is taking work. And cultural expectations poke at me every day saying, "It shouldn't take this much work. It should be easy. It should be all romance and smiles." And some days, when I'm feeling very logical, I reply, "No. I am building a relationship. Relationships take time and work and learning about another person." And other days I accept the cultural expectations, fall into Eeyore-esque feelings, and wonder, "Am I wrong? Is this wrong?"

I didn't realize how strongly outside expectations would affect how I view my relationship. When I get annoyed with my boyfriend, I worry. When we are on different communication channels, I worry. When he says something innocuous and my mood flips and I emotionally shut down, I worry. When I get home, think back on the day, and remember that he is different from me, I worry.

Because no one asks a girl, "How is your relationship going?" expecting to then receive the reply, "It's moving forward, but it's work!"

People worry if you say your relationship is taking work.

Brrrrhh! Wrong answer.

They can't tease you. And we all like to tease people.

In case you didn't know, you're expected to say your relationship is "Great! Wonderful! Amazing!" and burst into gleeful giggling and blush a becoming hue of pink.

Is it okay if a relationship takes work?

Every day I mentally interact with unstated expectations of ease and effortlessness.

Every day--as God leads and my umph holds--I refuse  to let that expectation kill what could end up being a beautiful, fun, enduring relationship, built on a sturdy foundation because we are currently working on it.

P.S. I do think that if a dating relationship is more work than enjoyment, it's probably not healthy.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Book Review: From the Start by Melissa Tagg

I requested to read and review this book because I remembered enjoying the last book I had read by Melissa Tagg (Made to Last). From the Start though was hard for me to get into. I ended up skimming the whole thing. On the negative side, I felt like there were too many descriptions, like when the former football player looked around the kitchen and mentally took in the white cupboards and bold blue walls and peninsula counter jutting from one wall and the beige furniture facing a corner fireplace. The description didn't personally add anything to my understanding of the forthcoming scene. I also felt like there were too many classic movie references, and I love my b/w movies! I understand the main character, a female romance writer, always making 1940s references, but the high school football coach calling a seventy-yard pass "smoother than a Bing Crosby ballad"? It didn't seem realistic for a whole town to talk that way. And then I also felt like the heroine and the hero had the same speech patterns--I couldn't "hear" them differently.

All that said, about halfway through I did get drawn in to the plot. The romance unfolded at a natural speed. It was sweet, enjoyable, worth reading. The subplots enhanced the storyline without making it less of a romance. By the end, I was really enjoying From the Start.

Out of 5 stars, I would give From the Start by Melissa Tagg 3.5 stars out of 5.

Favorite Quotes:
"And he was just standing there now, a thesaurus full of synonyms that added up to ridiculous amounts of handsome."

"It's okay to admit what you want. When you do, you might finally get brave enough to go after it."

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.