Will a wager against her future steal her chance at true love?
Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position.
For one, Adelina didn’t plan for the faith and friction of Reese, or the unexpected influence of his chaotic family. Now, drawn into a culture she’d tried to forget, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away the deep wounds of her past.
But when Reese discovers that he’s a pawn in her climb up the academic ladder, will he forgive Adelina’s deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives?
Why This Book:
As with my last review, this choice was all about the author. If you have been following my blog you know that I absolutely adore Pepper’s Penned in Time historical romance series. So when I heard she was releasing a contemporary romance, I knew I had to give A Twist of Faith a chance.
PHD was not supposed to smell like this.
Above is the actual first line of Pepper’s novel. However, the book opens with a quote from Pygmalion, Act 1:
“Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespear and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.”
In fact, each of the chapters in this novel begins with a Pygmalion quote. The quotes appropriately set the stage for what is to come and add a unique element of fun and familiarity to the reading.
The first paragraph continues from the first line to describe the contrast between her perceived prestigious new title – Ph.D. – and her less-than-prestigious new surroundings – namely farmland aromas. Living not so far from farmlands myself I could instantly smell the particular odors Pepper is referring to and it made me chuckle when she concluded her second paragraph with “Country charm it was.”
Adelina Roseland – (First, can I just say how much I love this name in a contemporary romance?) She is less than happy to have returned to her home region of the Appalachians. Her entire focus has been to educate and work her way out of this area and into the big city, but life has thrown her a detour she couldn’t avoid. She’s determined to make it the briefest detour possible until the unexpected warmth and acceptance of the people in her new home force her to reconsider not only her career and life goals, but the very lens through which she has always viewed life and God. She is a well-developed character with layers and depth. She isn’t perfect, but I was definitely in her corner and sympathetic to her flaws.
Reese Mitchell – Loaded with baggage of his own, widower Reese must find his way around and through his emotional scars to follow the incredible pull of his attraction to Adelina. Adding to the complexity is his love and concern for his two young children who are growing attached to the new lady in their lives. This is no two-sided hero, but a richly written man you’ll cheer on through the end.
Rounding out the cast are: Adelina’s colleague, Dr. Alex Murdock, and Reese’s family, which includes his spunky widowed mother, a few meddling sisters, a big brother battling cancer, and a young niece. None of these characters fall flat and each has their own personality, strengths, and struggles which add to the story.
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
This isn’t an edge-of-your-seat page turner, but it does keep you reading. There is a gentle but persistent tug to the story which makes you want to know what happens next without making you feel breathless. Though there is some predictability to the plot given its Pygmalion references and the fact that it is a romance, there is nothing boring or disappointing about it. Instead, those elements are received with a sense of enjoyable familiarity. Like cuddling up in your favorite blanket.
Although I struggled to really like Adelina in the very beginning, by the end of the first chapter I was emotionally engaged with the characters and I wanted to see how the story played out. I laughed out loud. I held my breath. My heart ached for them. I grin that silly grin of a romantic ending well earned.
Elements I especially liked/disliked:
I quite enjoyed the Pygmalion quotes along the way. It made for a unique reading experience.
I also enjoyed how unintentionally poor word choices and believable emotional reactions played out in the story with real impact.
Additionally, I appreciated how Pepper showed that grief is not a linear path but one that ebbs and flows and sometimes surprises us with how it pops back into our lives even after we think it has passed.
Don’t judge a book by its cover could be part of the theme, but I think it goes deeper than that. I think the true theme for this book deals with judging an entire group of people based on an experience with one or two of them.
The book also deals with the parent-child bond, as well as the struggle of forgiveness and how the granting or withholding of it affects a person’s life.
Finally, there is an ongoing consideration of what true love really looks like, as well as whether and how dreams can change.
I was very pleased with how the twists near the end brought things full circle and even pushed the characters to overcome final emotional hurdles. There is a heart-warming depth and truth to the love the two main characters develop in the end. Nothing shallow in this story.
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4 out of 5 stars
Materials Note: I purchased my own copy of this book, for my own reading pleasure.
What do you think of Pepper’s contemporary romance? Do you have a preference between historical or contemporary romance in general?
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