How far will a girl go to win back a guy she can’t stand? This funny, sweet, and romantic story proves that opposites do attract—and that God has a sense of humor.
Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but below the surface, he’s still recovering from the blow of a failed business and insecurities he can’t shake. His coworker, start-up expert Kimberly Foster, is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but years of personal rejection have left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks sure do fly.
When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and heads home to Australia to help his sister, Jules, save her struggling farm. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. Together they strike up a deal: If Kimberly comes to work on Jules’s dairy farm and lends her business brains to their endeavor, then maybe—just maybe—Sam will reconsider his future with the church.
As Kimberly tries her hand at Australian farm life, she learns more about herself than she could’ve ever expected. Meanwhile Sam is forced to re-evaluate this spunky woman he thought he already knew. As foes slowly morph into friends, they wonder if they might be something even more. But when disaster strikes the farm, will Sam find it within himself to take a risk that could lead to love? And will Kimberly trust God with her future?
Why This Book:
This book had SO much buzz about it when it first released that I immediately added it to my TBR. It just took me way too long to find the time to read it.
The first line made me smile and by the end of the first scene I’d already chuckled–something I’d been hoping for in this read. But more importantly, but the end of the first scene, I was “all-in” for the heroine. I wanted to see her win even if I couldn’t understand what she saw in the hero.
My biggest problem with this novel was that I really, really disliked the hero for at least 70% of the book. I just couldn’t understand why he reacted toward the heroine the way he did. He came off as a jerk. So much so that I very seriously considered DNFing this book about 60% of the way through. But Jessica Kate’s writing is stellar and there had been more than a few chuckles since the first scene, and I still wanted to see the heroine win. So I held onto a thread of hope that the hero would have a convincing turn around that somehow changed my view on the whole first of the story. And you know what? He did! There is this moment when we learn things about him and his past in a way that finally let me understand why he acted the way he did earlier in the story. And I LOVED it! In fact, the hero’s character arc puts this book on my “best reads of 2021” list.
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
While I rooted for the heroine from the start and took a very long time to warm up to the hero, there were many other characters that engaged my emotions throughout the story. From the hero’s sister to the quirky farmhand, each character is nuanced and important. The pacing was spot on and kept me turning pages.
Elements I Especially Liked/Disliked:
The unusual setting of rural, contemporary Australia was a fun place to “visit” via the author’s layered details and authoritative voice in how things work on a farm and in this family.
The faith element was central to this story and well done.
The ending was emotional and rewarding with some fun (and some not so fun) twists that kept me guessing.
This is the kind of book that readers should be reading because it entertains, but also challenges readers to look beyond the surface of a person. I was ready to give up on the hero when what I really needed was a better understanding of what made him tick. How true is that of real people? It’s so easy to think we understand why someone does something, especially when we feel offended or rejected, but oftentimes our interpretation is flawed by our own life experiences and biases. This novel is a perfect example of the power of story to change real hearts and minds through the lives of fictional characters. As a reader (and especially as an author) it’s my hope that the lessons learned from stories such as these help me and my fellow readers to grow in a way that makes the world a kinder and better place.
5 out of 5 stars
Which books have you read recently based on social media or book blogger buzz? Have you ever been to Australia? How do you feel about books set outside the United States?
Let me know in the comments below!
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Note: I purchased my own copy of this book and was under no obligation to review it at all. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.