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Monday, 6 April 2015

Reconciled for Easter by Noelle Adams

Book cover: Reconciled for Easter by Noelle Adams
This is the fourth book in the 'Willow Park' series, each following a different couple. They are stand-alone stories, but the characters crop up as secondary characters in more than one book. This is the story of Abigail and her estranged husband Thomas, who is the brother of Lydia, the heroine of book three, ‘Family for Christmas’. Abigail and Thomas are separated, but have been attempting to reconcile. This hasn’t been going very well and they’ve taken a six-month break from counselling. At the end of the six months they are going to make a final decision whether to get back together or divorce.



The reason for the split was that Abigail felt that Thomas prioritised his work over everything; over Abigail, and over their 6 year old daughter, Mia. Abigail also felt that he didn’t respect her. Abigail had a lot of issues she was working through. She’d had an extremely strict upbringing and was very repressed. After the marriage, due to the influence of friends met through church, Abigail began taking steps to become more independent as her self-confidence grew. She took steps to further her education, she cut her hair and began to dress less conservatively and even looked at getting a job. Although Thomas didn’t prevent this change, he also didn’t welcome the change or even particularly acknowledge that it was happening. In many respects, Thomas and Abigail’s marriage seemed to be following the repressive pattern of her parents’ marriage.

We see Abigail’s reasoning for trying to save her marriage. It isn’t that she’s particularly opposed to divorce (though her parents have pretty much disowned her since her marriage split) but because despite her frustrations with Thomas, Abigail still loves and desires him but until she feels that he sees her as an equal and genuinely values her as a person rather than as the accessory of a wife she can’t see them getting back together. Abigail concedes that she has changed from the woman that Thomas chose to marry but she’s hoping against hope that Thomas can learn to love the woman that she truly is. Abigail has seen some positive signs lately. Thomas has stepped up his game as a father and really seems to be making an effort to make Abigail feel heard. But is it all too little, too late?
‘She was convinced the break that they were taking was a good thing for both of them. She was starting to feel refreshed, like she might have the energy to tackle their relationship again.’
I thought this was quite a ‘real’ feeling second chance romance. Since the couple in question have a child it’s harder to let things go, they can’t argue out their differences or move in with each other on a whim as they need to ensure a calm and stable environment for their daughter.

One thing I thought the author captured really well was Abigail’s difficulty accepting help when she needed to. This particularly struck a chord with me as I read this with my convalescence from an operation as quite a fresh memory I needed help doing all sorts of mundane tasks and as an independent person I really struggled with it so I could really enter into Abigail’s feelings here.

Both Abigail and Thomas have some issues they need to overcome, but Abigail had more issues because of her upbringing so having things shown primarily from Abigail’s point of view was helpful as it helps the reader understand Abigail’s struggles and built sympathy for her. Thomas was harder to get to know but you felt for him because it was obvious how hard he was trying not to pressurise Abigail during their agreed break.

One thing that I didn’t feel quite rung true was Mia’s reading material. She’s only six and her reading material seemed a little too advanced for her age to me, although she seemed typical enough in her speech and behaviour. (Bookworm factoid! One of the books Mia reads is ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott and reference is made to the latter half of the book having some heavier issues. In the US ‘Little Women’ is one book containing two volumes, but in the UK it’s usually published as two separate books, ‘Little Women’ and ‘Good Wives’ and it’s the latter book which is the sad one.)

This series is somewhat unusual in that the characters are all practicing Christians, with very strong faith which affects their choices and feelings but I wouldn’t class this as a Christian romance, due to occasional swearing and some sex scenes, neither of which I’d expect to see in Christian romance. There have been two Christmas books, and two Easter books, and to me the Easter ones have had stronger religious themes. In this book one of the analogies is that when Jesus was up on the cross he was naked and had nothing to hide behind, and that’s one of the lessons that this couple must learn to enable them to have a loving relationship, to take the risk of being entirely open and not hiding behind pride or misperceptions.

I’ve enjoyed this whole series, and this book was no exception. I felt so sorry for Abigail because of how repressed she had been, and I felt sorry for Thomas too, because his wife was changing in front of his eyes and he just hadn’t known how to deal with it because of the distance between them. I originally thought that this was the last book in the series, but it said at the end that another book is planned for later this year dealing with a secondary character, Sophie, whose husband is a journalist working in Syria, who has been kidnapped. He’s actually been in captivity longer than they were living a married life. It sounds very interesting, and I’ll definitely try and read it. I'd rate 'Reconciled for Easter' as a 4 star read.

4 star read

Book covers: Willow Park Series by Noelle Adams


2 comments:

  1. Hmm, this sounds realistic through and through. It would be tough on a relationship if one member introduced some drastic even if they're needed changes. Interesting dynamics for this second-chancer. I'll have to check these out.

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    1. I really enjoy this author Sophia. I had such bad luck for so long with contemporary romances, they were all either full of misery or really silly, which I know some people like but I am not one of them! So when I found this author via a freebie book a while ago I started reading her books. I've read quite a lot of them now, and I always enjoy them. She writes under the pen-name Claire Kent as well, but I prefer her books under the name Noelle Adams. Most of her books don't have the Christian influence, but this particular series does.

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