I don't normally put this first, but I didn't want anyone to miss it. This book is AMAZING. I don't often read way longer than I ought to - or annoy hubby by kindle reading in the dark. But this was one book I couldn't put down.
I was alternately rooting for Chase, and then wanting to slap some sense into him. I also woke at stupid o'clock thinking I should call him, make sure he was all right. Then remembered he was a person in a book.... Likewise Pyper.
Ms. Evans has done it again with this one. A powerful tale of love and the true meaning of forgiveness. How the words themselves aren't enough without the honestly and emotion behind it.
I was gifted an ARC from the publisher. This has in no way affected the above review.
Country music bad boy Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction, and transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up and comer, Pyper Brock, and instantly sparks ignite.
Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation, so despite a rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, she soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. Decades ago, her father, in a drunken rage, tossed her and her mother onto the streets. No way will Pyper make the mistake of falling for a man whose done battle with the bottle.
What happens when Chase’s quest to win Pyper’s love breaks down chains of resentment and eases the long buried wounds of her childhood? And what happens when Pyper’s father shows up in Nashville, clean, sober and seeking a chance to apologize?
Can Pyper follow a pathway to peace when it comes to her father? Can she fully trust Chase? Above all, can a sin damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness?
They convened in the great room. When Amy crossed the threshold, Chase watched her run gentle fingertips against the edge of the fireplace mantle, where silver-framed photos rested. For a time she lost herself in family snapshots, formal portraits of Zach, Pyper…
And within her eyes crested an ocean of sadness that twisted his stomach, because he didn’t think they were going to like what he had to say.
“Excuse me for being torn between two sides here, but I don’t think you should have treated him so harshly. Why are you painting him with the lines of a brush that’s decades old? What right do you have to do that? It’s not fair, and it’s not worthy of the people standing in this room—the one’s I’ve come to know and care for so much.”
Pyper crossed the room, headed for her mother’s side, but she drew up short and stared at Chase. Zach stood not far away, brows furrowed, arms crossed, gaze pinging from one person to the next as he visibly attempted to sort things through.
Tyler stepped into the tense and building void. “Chase, you’re right to be loyal to him. I don’t discount the ways he helped you find your way, but I need you to hear us out on this. You need to understand that—”
“No. There’s no need for an explanation. I get it. You’re all about second chances; you’re all about redemption; you’re all about that feel-good, all-encompassing word forgiveness, right up to the point when it involves someone who’s hurt you deep. Well, I know Mark far better than you, and I respect him. He worked hard to overcome. I can relate to that struggle because life forced me to walk his same walk. He’s a troubled, flawed man who tells me he’s working hard to be what he needs to be, what he wants to be. I had my doubts about his arrival, and I know how he hurt y’all. But after his witness today, after the way he accepted his cross with grace and humility, I feel he deserves a chance. Why did you lash out at him without knowing thing-one about the demons he’s slain?”
“Demons!” Pyper rounded on him. “The demons he’s slain? Chase, that man is a wrecking ball! Any demons he faced, he brought on himself!”
“Absolutely, and those demons will lurk over you as well, Pyper—over all of you—if you storm off and refuse to give him the time of day. That kind of judgment I don’t want or need. It’s toxic, unfair, and it certainly isn’t Christian.”
Pyper’s cry mixed pain and anger; the realization registered then evaporated.
Temper erupting, he pressed forward through lightning strikes and storm clouds he could taste in the air. “The man you hate so much—and don’t even try to hide from that truth—is the man who helped me, and nothing but God led Mark Samuels to Nashville. If you can’t see that, then you don’t understand all the words you use about seeing His hand in our lives, and recognizing His actions, His interventions.”
Pyper’s eyes filled, and Chase rebuked the resulting stab of pain.
“That damaged man found healing; that damaged man repented and worked hard to restore himself. I’ve learned a lot from his journey, and he pulled me scratching and clawing from a black hole. I’m sorry for what he did. Truly I am.” His gaze roved Pyper’s precious face, then moved to Amy. “What he did to you and your mama is reprehensible, but you should look at who he is now.” Chase focused on Tyler and Zach as well. “All of you need to see his redemption rather than his past. He’s covered by grace. He’s loved. He’s forgiven. Right?” His gaze landed square on Pyper’s bewildered face. “Just. Like. Me.” He invaded her space. Fire burned in his chest, stirring an all-over ache as he strove to drive home his point. “Or do you believe Jesus would leave an honestly repentant man cowering in the sand, covered by sin?”
To my mind, one of the most daunting questions I’m asked as an author is: ‘What prompted you to write this particular book/approach this topic/dive into these characters?’
(Me: oops sorry…. Not. Mwhahahaha)
Especially when it comes to my new release, Forgiveness, I don’t want to offer what might seem to be a quick and easy answer like: ‘I wrote it to help readers discover the mercy and love of God’s unconditional forgiveness.’ Instead, I wanted to dig deep, and explore the complexities of both giving and receiving forgiveness.
The seeds for the story germinated with the final installment of a series I wrote years ago called Woodland. Hearts Key wrapped the series, and featured a couple, and child, finding new life and love following the destruction caused by alcohol/gambling addiction and physical abuse.
The image of the little girl on that book cover stayed with me as I continued writing other books and moving on to other projects. Pyper haunted me…and her voice started to speak to me, sending me impulses for a story that took my heart by storm.
What if Pyper, the frightened five-year-old child of Hearts Key, grew into a powerhouse musician, like her stepfather? What if she believed her childhood scars to be healed, or at most, nothing more than a distant black memory easily dismissed? What if she literally collided with a fellow musician, Chase Bradington, who took her breath away, but had a history of battling alcoholism? What if this transformed and reformed man battled for her love, and won it—just as Pyper’s father returned to town, reformed as well, and seeking a chance to apologize, and seek her forgiveness?
Like I said, complex layers emerged. Giving and receiving forgiveness. How difficult. How hopeful. How painful. How rejuvenating.
How would Pyper find a way to extend forgiveness to the man who emotionally and physically abused her as the result of his addictions? How would she ever be able to fully trust Chase to not back-pedal and fall into a bad pattern of life once more? Could she freely give her heart to either man?
And what about Chase? Can he fully forgive himself for the wrongs of his past and move forward with Pyper? Can he truly believe, to his core, that the mercy of Christ reaches his deepest, darkest sins and washes him clean? When Pyper and her family welcome him in love and trust, can he believe himself worthy of receipt?
I hope you take the journey and enjoy this story of love, redemption and affirmation. May its message fill you with hope for the countless ways God can shine a light into the worst, most impossible situations and bring them to His goodness and perfect plan.