An old, forgotten chapel holds the key to love and forgiveness.
Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—building a wedding chapel for Collette Greer, the woman he fell in love with in 1949. But now a realtor wants the land the chapel sits on, and he sees no reason to hang onto the past.
Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s string of failed marriages. When she falls head-over-heels for Jack Gillingham, a top ad man, their whirlwind romance and elopement leave her with doubts. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to find the right way to show her he really cares.
When a post-mortem letter from Taylor’s Granny Peg shows up, along with an old photo, she is driven to uncover family secrets and the secret to her own happiness, starting with an assignment to photograph an unknown, obscure wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend.
Taylor begins a mission to convince Jimmy that the chapel is worth saving—and that forgiveness and healing might happen within the chapel’s walls . . . for both of them.
Wedding chapels evoke a sense of mystery and peace all in one. Stained glass windows filter in sunlight that illuminates the ethereal, while old-style arches and wood-worn pews speak of times past. With this picture of gorgeous old chapel filling my mind, I eagerly approached Rachel Hauck’s The Wedding Chapel in anticipation of a story that draw me into a story that shares the best of history and contemporary within one book.
Hauck, a veteran writer of Christian fiction, knows how to pen a beautiful story. Her themes are always strong, her writing is always graceful, and her storylines are always intricately crafted. The Wedding Chapel holds all of these elements and in many ways, even though this is not my favorite of her books (I’m just a fan of royalty, what can I say?), make this novel one of her best yet. A dual-set story set in the charming Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, and New York City, in The Wedding Chapel readers are maneuvered between two time periods: one with heart-wrenching history and the other relatable in its modernity.
Themes of restoration, forgiveness, family, love, hope, and second chances blend into the stories of two couples: Jack and Taylor Branson, and Jimmy Westbrook and Collette Greer. I absolutely loved Jimmy and Collette’s story because–and this is personal taste coming out–we witnessed the evolution of a tale beginning in time’s past and moving into today. As a lover of historical fiction, I enjoyed Hauck’s technique of weaving in history through a romance. Jimmy and Collette’s story is just beautiful and contain the strongest themes in The Wedding Chapel. Although half the story would have been missing otherwise, I almost wished while reading the book that the story was just about these two characters. Taylor and Jack are amiable characters, but I never connected to them as I did to their counterparts and their story did not stir me the same way. The connection between the four of them did, however, make for an endearing story that will surely bring smiles to many readers.
Rating: 3.5 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rachel began writing full time in 2004. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.
Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets, and writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.