Saturday, 19 April 2014

A Baby for Easter (Willow Park) by Noelle Adams

Last year I read a book by Noelle Adams called Married by Christmas and I noticed that the follow up book A Baby for Easter was out. The first book deals with Daniel and Jessica, and the second book (which could be read as a stand alone) tells the story of Daniel’s brother Micah and Alice. A Baby for Easter is at a reduced price at the moment, but you’d need to be quick, as I think it’s only on sale for the next day or two. Here are my thoughts on both books.

A Baby for Easter

Alice has been through a hard time; her fiancĂ© has broken up with her, and he’s not the first fiancĂ© to do so.  Plus she has lost her job through cutbacks, so she’s had to return to her home town, Willow Park and move back in with her parents.  Alice is a librarian, but she’s only been able to secure 10 hours a week working in the library, and has supplemented her income by going to work to assist the town’s pastor Daniel (from Married by Christmas) with some office work. Alice enjoys being home although she can’t afford a place to rent in the town, and she’s not overly sad that her engagement was called off but she feels disappointed with herself that she put up with a relationship that was going nowhere for as long as she did.  To prevent future heartbreak she has made herself five rules to live by to prevent her getting hurt again. These rules basically are intended to stop her getting her hopes up with another man unless he’s made it crystal clear what his intentions are.

Unfortunately for Alice, the potential for heartbreak is popping into the office all the time. Daniel’s brother, Micah and Alice had a summertime romance as teenagers which ended when he went off to college without a backward glance for her. Alice had felt a real connection with Micah and he’s become the yardstick that other relationships are measured against.  However, he doesn’t seem too pleased to see her now, being markedly less friendly towards her than towards other people.

After leaving town to go to college Micah’s life went off the rails and he moved away from his religious beliefs and towards a life of excess with lots of partying and one night stands.  For the past year or so he’s been working hard to get back on track, acting as a deacon for the church. However, his past catches up with him when he has a baby foisted on him which he is told is the result of one of his one-night stands.  The baby’s mother has died in a car accident and Micah had no idea that he had fathered a child but now he’ll have to decide what to do about the situation, pending paternity tests etc. Alice minds the baby for him while he deals with some of the initial practical issues, and they come up with a temporary solution – Micah’s house has an apartment above the garage which Alice will live in rent-free in return for helping him out with the baby while he has to work.  This means that Alice and Micah have to spend a lot more time together, with all the potential for heartbreak that could bring, particularly as Micah has shown no compunction in breaking Alice’s heart in the past.

I thought this was an enjoyable escapist read and I read the whole book in one go.  Alice was a likeable heroine, but she had pretty poor self-esteem due to her poor judgements in the past.  Add this to rule 1 (never assume a man likes you unless he both tells you and shows you) means that she misses all signs that Micah has feelings for her and she shows him zero encouragement for a long time. Micah was a bit more complicated, having been through a self-imposed crisis – he didn’t feel worthy compared to the rest of the family so he behaved in a way that made him feel even less worthy and got into a vicious circle. This in itself wasn’t hard to forgive, but he didn’t seem that worried about breaking Alice’s heart again, which was a bit selfish, made you want to give him a good shake! I liked the dynamic that the baby brought to their relationship and some of the times the romance was realistically reduced by the baby – hero with baby poo on his shirt for example! The flipside of this was that it allowed us to see Micah’s tenderness as he fell in love with his baby. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of that tenderness directed towards Alice though, would have been good to have seen him have to work a bit harder for her.

This is a follow-on from Married for Christmas, but it reads fine as a stand alone.  It was good to see Daniel and Jessica from the first book, and it made me smile that she was still having cooking difficulties, as this was something she struggled with. Although both books have religious themes, in a way I felt this one felt more strongly Christian though it doesn’t hit you over the head with it. The idea that God doesn’t give us things because we deserve them but because he loves us is an idea that Micah has to be reminded of.  There are no sex scenes in this book, if that is something you prefer to avoid, but there is a scene that veers into intimate territory before it comes back out of it.  



Married for Christmas

Jessica has a proposition for her old friend Daniel. He's a widower, having lost his wife, Lila, in a car accident. Daniel is a pastor, and has the chance to become the pastor in he and Jess's home town but they'd prefer somebody either settled down, or a bit older than Daniel. Jessica feels very alone; she has friends, but not much in the way of family aside from her mother who is in a nursing home. Jess works from home so doesn't even have work colleagues. Jess has given up in the idea of love and romance, but she'd like a family. Feeling that she and Daniel could both benefit from a marriage, Jess proposes that they get married, which would improve his chances of getting the church he wants while giving Jess a chance of having the family she craves. Of course, Jess's choice of husband may have been influenced by the fact that she has some pretty strong feelings for Daniel, but she knows that he hasn't really let himself move on from losing his wife. Still, she has given up on waiting for Mr Right, and feels she can be happy in a marriage with Daniel, knowing that he'll never love her in the way he loved Lila.

This was something a bit new for me, in that Daniel is a pastor, and Jess is a committed Christian too, so I wasn't sure if the story would have religious tones to it. Although religion does affect their behaviour to some extent, for example not having sex before marriage etc, it's a romance, and there are a number of sex scenes, which you might not be expecting. Both main characters go through a journey of sorts, coming to understand themselves better. Daniel particularly had a lot of stubbornness and guilt to overcome.

The only thing which I would have liked to change about this story was the timeframe. I felt that Jess was pretty impatient with Daniel, considering she'd thought through the implications of the type of marriage they had, and it made her a tad unsympathetic, although she was redeemed by her attempts to live up to the standards she felt were acceptable for a pastor's wife, including her disastrous cooking! I enjoyed this story, and it had a nice touch of Christmas feel-good about it.
 *Disclaimer - I received an e-arc of this book from the author for my honest review.


3 comments:

  1. Great reviews Ceri I have just looked up this author and have purchased A negotiated Marriage. Think it is time a took a little side step to read something other than JAFF!

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    1. I like to mix up my reading a bit because it helps keep stories separate in my mind, if I read things which are very similar back to back I sometimes merge the stories in my head!

      I hope you enjoy A Negotiated Marriage. It was the first book I read by this author and it's probably my favourite of hers. I love a marriage of convenience scenario! I don't know how you feel about sex scenes, but just to warn you if you don't that, there are quite a few of them.

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  2. Thanks for the heads up, oh I am glad you have read it and liked it, I look forward to reading it. Yes I agree I start to forget what happened when and where.

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