Learning To Love Again
Idyllic Goose Harbor, Michigan, offers a fresh start for broken-hearted Paige Windom. In addition to securing a teaching job at the high school, she’ll fulfill her dream of helping at-risk teens in a nearby inner-city mentoring program. But Caleb Beck, a handsome yet overprotective widower and the center’s founder, doesn’t want Paige anywhere near the place. He’s afraid she’ll get hurt just like his late wife. Paige knows she can do a lot of good for the kids and Caleb himself. If only she can show him how to let go of his fear, maybe they’ll both find a way to reopen their wounded hearts.
Goose Harbor: Love is in big supply on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Harlequin’s Love Inspired series covers every genre imaginable—from historical to contemporary to Amish, Christian fiction authors have given Harlequin fans a line of books to enjoy no matter the reading preference. Despite the prolificacy of the line, until this month I had chosen to not read the Love Inspired line because the smaller size of the novels indicated I would read the books too quickly to be worthwhile.
Reader friends—I was wrong and will gladly admit that statement to you as many times as needed. I enjoyed The Widower’s Second Chance very much; I will be reading more from the Love Inspired Line; and I will absolutely read more from author Jessica Keller without any hesitation. In the tradition of “don’t judge a book by its cover,” I now also believe that size is not indicative of a good story. A heavy tome does not equal a more comprehensive plot, and a thin volume does measure to a shallow novel. I learned through The Widower’s Second Chance that the Love Inspired line condenses a meaningful story into a small package through deep characters and inspirational growth.
Jessica Keller first novel in the Goose Harbor series, The Widower’s Second Chance, centers on hurting protagonists whose faith is grounded but shaken after traumatic personal experiences. Either main or secondary, Keller’s characters make this novel shine as they take their unique viewpoints on life and love and share them with others. Caleb, and overprotective widower, is a perfect male protagonist—he is wounded yet strong, brooding and handsome, overbearing but protective. I couldn’t help but love him, even with his zealous-but-wrong mindset that he had to save everyone from themselves. Paige is the all-American girl-next-door that every female wants to be at some point in her life. She is pretty but doesn’t know it, feisty and loveable, and just fun to read about. Paige and Caleb make the perfect pair; their characteristics and quirks balance each other, but clearly they will have a dynamic relationship that takes work. Keller’s choice to make Paige a Caleb fit but also flawed—much like a true relationship for readers—brings an authenticity to her novel that makes her story relatable.
All of the characters in The Widower’s Second Chance are thoroughly created and unique; however, the smaller size of the Love Inspired novels means the authors have to sacrifice some aspects of novel writing that otherwise would create a deeper story. Despite that I enjoyed the characters in Keller’s novel, I did feel the novel lacked characterization. Many times throughout The Widower’s Second Chance I noticed that I sympathized with Caleb and Paige—but I did not empathize with them. One concession that Love Inspired authors make when writing for this line is the “show versus tell” choice that writers and readers are inundated with by teachers and the publishing industry. Showing—using action, dialog, and other writing tools—draws readers into the story directly while telling—plainly stating—does not require readers to use their imagination. The word count for Love Inspired, which creates those smaller novels, limits the amount of showing readers have come to love and instead requires authors to use a bit more “telling” in the novels.
Jessica Keller is quite a good author and handles this change of “show versus tell” with graceful writing. Her setting, Goose Harbor, is exquisitely created with vivid descriptions of an idyllic lakefront town and its accompanying culture. Characters that remain in the background of The Widower’s Second Chance enhance the story’s plot and are vital to realism of the novel. The emotions in this novel are authentic and, at times, heart-wrenching. Keller enhances the emotions in The Widower’s Second Chance with a story that is unique and needs to be told. Her focus on this story, along with challenges in faith that are true and believe in both life and novelization, bring this novel a level of believability that will have readers picking up her book more than once.
Keller’s second book in the Goose Harbor series, The Fireman’s Secret, releases in early 2015, and I cannot wait to read it. I read The Widower’s Second Chance in less than a day, so I know I will love this author’s follow up to her lovely Goose Harbor beginning.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
About the Author:
As a child Jessica possessed the dangerous combination of too much energy coupled with an over-active imagination. This pairing led to more than seven broken bones and countless scars.
Oddly enough, she’s worked as a zookeeper, a librarian, camp counselor, horse wrangler, housekeeper, and finance clerk, but now loves her full-time work in law enforcement.
She lives in the Midwest with her amazing husband and very giggly daughter.
- Winner of the 2011 Golden Pen
- Winner of the 2011 Where the Magic Begins
- Winner of the 2011-12 Rattler Writing Contest (Contemporary Category)
- Winner of the 2011-12 Rattler Wrting Contest (Spec. Category)
- Overall Grand Prize Winner 2011-2012 Rattler Writing Contest Awards
- 2012 ACFW Genesis Award Semi-Finalist
Find Jessica on the following