Restoring Love, a novel by Jennifer Slattery (review)

restoringlove_slattery_newhopepubPublisher’s Description:

Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She’s almost his worst nightmare, and she’s also working on restoring something—herself. As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common—a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?

Restoring Love, part of New Hope Publishers’ line of contemporary missional fiction, demonstrates how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace that can impact the lives of others. Readers will connect with the realistic characters and find they can relate to the complex situations that makes Jennifer Slattery’s book so appealing. Readers will be inspired to see how God wants to use us to restore people’s perception of love in action.

About the Author:

Jennifer Slattery, author of Breaking Free, Beyond I Do, Intertwined, and jennifer-slattery-200x300When Dawn Breaks, is an inspiring contemporary novelist whose stories of hope, love, and grace resonate with real people. She also writes Christian Living articles for Crosswalk.com and devotions for her personal blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com; Internet Cafe Devotions; and oversees the blog and social media accounts for Takin’ It To The Streets, a ministry serving Omaha Metro’s working poor and homeless. When not writing, she enjoys hanging out with her teenage daughter and real-life hero husband, as well as serving in her church.

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Jennifer Slattery has crafted a story that is both heart-warming and heart-expanding.  At the end of reading this book I was left teary-eyed and smiling over this faith-filled story of grace and forgiveness.

Sometimes when you got to know them, the people that frowned more than they smiled end up having the biggest hearts ever.  Maybe Frances was like that.  Angela chose to believe she was.  (p.150)

One of the things I most appreciated about this story was having main characters who are older than the typical hero and heroine – perhaps because this is General Fiction and not classified as Romance, though the Romance genre could definitely use more mature love interests – and though the main thrust of the novel is their desire to help out a family in need, they aren’t perfect.  Mitch is having difficulties with his business partner as well as family members, partly stemming from his devotion to becoming a Godly man.  Angela’s life is even more imperfect.  She is a new Christian, struggling to find acceptance while doing her best not to fall into old habits when it comes to finances and relationships.  Not to mention her need for a makeover – which had me going back and forth between being mortified for her and amused by her obliviousness.

Could their conversation have been any more awkward?  Flirting she understood.  Holding a normal conversation with a handsome, single man?  Learning to be friends with said man?  That she needed to learn. (p.123)

That they start their relationship as a friendship, with Mitch helping Angela to feel more welcome at church, was another aspect that I found myself appreciating.  It was part of what made this story feel realistic, along with the financial woes of the various characters.

This was my first exposure to anything from New Hope Publishers and Restoring Love  definitely fills the publisher’s brief to be “missional fiction.”  Not only does it portray two individuals reaching out, separately and then together, to aid someone in need, it portrays forgiveness, redemption and steps toward recovery for people who are broken and lost.

While it does feel at times that the story is jumping between two disparate storylines, all of the different threads are eventually brought together for an interesting climax and satisfying conclusion.  Events towards the end felt almost too convenient and some readers may find them bordering on “preachy” – but this is an unashamedly Christian novel overtly written with biblical principals in mind.  Overall, a rewarding read with a sweet romance and subtle touches of humor.

He watched her for a moment, a strange sensation filling his gut.  The kind he got at estate auctions, just before making his bid.  Which was crazy.

She wasn’t even his type, not that he really knew what that was, anymore. (p.71)

Highly recommended for readers of Contemporary Christian fiction who appreciate stories of those who have received grace reaching out to others, persistently extending grace to those who are hurting and broken.

I was happy to discover that Angela, whose back story had me curious to learn more, originated in another novel by Jennifer Slattery where she is the “hedonistic mother who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning.”  I’m planning to read Beyond I Do just as soon as I can.


Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery | New Hope Publishers, February 6th, 2017 | paperback, 324 pages

My thanks to the author for reaching out to me about this book and to the publisher who provided a free copy in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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