Thursday, September 24, 2015

Love Arrives in Pieces - Book Review

Back cover summary: 

For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.
Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to her brokenness—so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but always falls short. So she keeps her passion for her secret art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.
Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée in a car crash. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater, and is shocked to learn former flame Stella is the designer for the project.
Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and their pasts as they struggle to compromise and come together on a vision for the theater. Chase doesn’t understand why Stella is such a subdued version of herself, while Stella doesn’t get Chase’s constant need for productivity and speed. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase breaks through Stella’s walls and convinces her to enter her mosaic tile art in a contest.
A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force both Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from the broken.

My review: 
Love Arrives in Pieces served as a lovely surprise. At first, reading the back cover summary, I feared the story might be déjà vu, reminding me of a few books I had read. However, it was a beautiful story all on its own with very little similitude to anything I'd read. 
The characters of Stella and Chase are easy to relate with and follow. 25 year old Stella is broken with a self-esteem that seemed to have crashed after her divorce. At first, we don't know much about Chase nor what happened between her and Chase all those years back but everything slowly unravels in a way that keeps you turning the page. Chase is bent on putting things right and gaining her trust. The tension between them at the early stages when they are forced to work together feels real, yet leaves you smiling, if not laughing at certain points. 
Apart from Chase and Stella, I think what adds a little something extra and wonderful to this story are the secondary characters. While the character of Stella's mother appears to be a slightly exaggerated control freak, the scenes where she loosens up and acts like a normal sentimental human being were heartwarming. Kat, Stella's sister, and her husband were so real on every level, it was easy to love them. But those who steal the show, in my opinion, would have to be the homeless folks from the homeless shelter where the story all begins. The character of Dixie is an absolute God-sent. She adds so much mystery to the story and that extra something that makes you waiting in anticipation for what she'll say next. Her and Chase point other characters and even the reader to Jesus. 
Author Betsy St. Amant does an amazing job with the themes in this novel. And I was absolutely blown away by how every last detail seemed to tie together in the end. The symbolism throughout the story (mosaics, rebuilding an old theatre...etc) was amazing.You find out that the littlest things mentioned had some form of meaning and all point towards the story's themes. All things broken can still be made beautiful. That is something we can all resonate with. Beautiful story, beautiful themes and a beautiful happily-ever-after. 
What I liked a little less with the story was Stella's voice. At first I found it little irritating reading through passages in her point of view because sometimes it felt like she was constantly ranting and had a sarcastic or snide remark to add to everything. I soon got used to it and hardly noticed. 
Overall, Betsy St. Amant has done a wonderful job with this novel and I would recommend it to anyone. 

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers® (Thomas Nelson) in exchange for an honest review. 

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