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Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Pastor's Wife by Jennifer AlLee

Today I'm pleased to bring to you The Pastor's Wife by my good friend and fellow Inkwell Inspirations blogger Jennifer AlLee. I was so excited when I received my advanced copy in the mail. It’s always fun to check-out books by my author friends, and as it turned out, this was my very first Inky novel. The cover caught my interest right away. It was beautiful and engaging, and I couldn’t wait to start reading. Once I delved inside, the book did not disappoint. This delightful warm-hearted contemporary romance was a joy to read and an encouragement to my spirit.

While a traditional romance in structure, this book breaks out of the mold by introducing us to a hero and heroine who are married, but have been separated for many years, allowing Jen to take a hard look at the nature of love and romance from a Godly perspective. The book was not all about tingles and emotions, although the attraction was apparent. Instead, the primary plot was about forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation. Add to that the complex roles and expectations placed upon a pastor and his spouse, and this novel stands out from the pack as unique.

Maura Sullivan arrives in Granger, Ohio with the intention to claim her inheritance and quickly high-tail it out of town, hopefully before running into her estranged husband, Nick Shepherd. But fate, or perhaps God in the form of an eccentric old lady, has other plans. Maura finds her husband headed to the same meeting and discovers their departed friend, Miss Hattie, has carefully devised her will to force them into one last chance at love. While Maura still has the option to run away, she finds the offer to good to refuse. She had hoped the inheritance would give her a new start at life, and decides to give Nick one last chance. She can handle a few months with her husband for the reward dangled before her.

Nick longs to reconcile, but Maura has hardened her defenses against him. She was too hurt by him and his church members last time around. Besides, she has a secret she knows they can never overcome. In her mind, saving their marriage is not an option. She will live with him only for the specified time, and then move into her own apartment over the theatre.

Maura faces many challenges reacquainting herself with the town, renovating her rundown theatre, and being forced to deal with her husband and his congregation once again. This book kept me turning pages right until the emotional ending.

I was captivated to discover that Maura’s inheritance was in fact an old theatre. I loved watching the transformation of the quaint building, as well as the inclusion of drama and the theatre world in this story. The theatre also served to demonstrate how each of us must serve God in our own unique roles and gifts. Maura may have failed as a pastor’s wife the first time around, but once released into her own calling, she was able to view the situation from a different perspective. I enjoyed the way Jen depicted this second time around at love. Maura and Nick did not fall into the same traps. This time they faced the situation with a new level of wisdom and maturity that all of us need when dealing with the complicated subject of romance.

This book is not only an enjoyable read, it is an important book as well. Each of us should take time to ponder the roles of our pastor’s and their spouses. We should give a moment to consider how we can better understand and support them. I applaud Jen for shedding light on this significant subject.

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