Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: The Promise

The Promise
By Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley
Restoration series, #2
Revell, 2013

The Promise is book two in a beautiful series that combines the literary talents of Dan Walsh and the relationship expertise of Gary Smalley. The Restoration Series pulls back the curtain of a family that has laid their foundation on shifting sand, but is slowly rediscovering genuine love and the power of forgiveness.


One home, two hearts, and the power of a promise kept . . .

For the last five months, Tom Anderson has been without a job, a fact he's been hiding from his wife Jean--and everyone else. He leaves each morning, pretending nothing has changed, and spends his disheartening day rotating through coffee shops and the library, using their wifi to search job listings online. The stress of keeping this secret is beginning to put serious strain on his marriage.

But Tom's not the only one hiding something. Jean Anderson has a secret of her own--one that will seriously complicate their situation. Will the promises they made on their wedding day hold firm?

My thoughts

When it comes to my favorite genre, character-driven/relationship stories, Dan Walsh has always delivered - and continues to do so in the Restoration series co-authored with Gary Smalley. This is a series that entertains, engages the emotions, spiritually uplifts, and makes readers think about the relationships in their life.

This novel begins approximately seven months after the ending of book one, The Dance. Jim and Marilyn are happily together and on their second honeymoon, but still working on minor challenges in their marriage. I'm as big of a romance fan as anyone, but we all know the story doesn't end with "I do." What I appreciate most about this series is that it focuses on the struggles and problems couples face, exemplified by the Anderson family - beginning with Jim and Marilyn, and radiating on down to their three grown children. It's hard to separate this book from the whole series, because they all blend together.

The Promise focuses on Tom and Jean, Jim's son and daughter-in-law. The whole Anderson family could live in my neighborhood, they're that real - and I love following their stories. Tom had spent his life to date "trying to win the approval and affections of a man who somehow managed to remain continually just out of reach." And when his life and marriage began falling apart, he couldn't let his father find out about the mess he had made. Jean was a loyal wife who, in Marilyn's words, tried to cope by "hiding her hurts and fears, sometimes even from herself, hoping that things between them will get better if she can just hold on a little longer, give things a little more time."

Communication, trust, sharing struggles and working through hard times together are key factors in this story, but for Jim, everything goes further back than he realizes. In the words of one of my favorite characters, Jim's uncle Henry, it's the Anderson legacy - "harsh, demanding fathers begetting more harsh, demanding fathers. No one ever being truly happy, or ever measuring up to their father's expectations or experiencing the simple joy of hearing the words "I'm proud of you, son."

I can't help but think of the reference in James 3 about the power of the tongue - and especially when it comes to children, the power to build them up or tear them down. Dan writes in his author's notes at the end:  "It happens a lot, even in solid Christian families - parents who love their children but fail to recognize their great need for regular encouragement and blessing."

The Promise is a moving, compelling story of God's grace and how He can work in our lives when we give control over to Him. The Anderson family may be fictional, but I've come to care about them as Dan and Gary entertain and seamlessly weave relational gems into their writing. Everything isn't tied up in a neat bow, but the ending is one of happiness and life-changing promise. I look forward to Michele and Allan's story in book three, The Desire.

Dan Walsh

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Dance and The Promisewith Gary Smalley, as well as The Unfinished GiftThe Discovery, and The Reunion. He has won three Carol Awards, and two of his novels were finalists for RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year for 2011 and 2012. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for twenty-five years. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel. Visit for more.

Gary Smalley

Gary Smalley is one of the country's best known authors and speakers on family relationships. He is the bestselling and award-winning author or coauthor of 16 books, along with several popular films and videos. He has spent over 30 years learning, teaching, and counseling, speaking to over 2 million people in live conferences. Smalley has appeared on national television programs such as OprahLarry King LiveExtra,The Today Show, and The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, as well as numerous national radio programs. Gary and his wife, Norma, have been married for 50 years and live in Branson, Missouri. They have three children and six grandchildren.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. This is one of my favorite series. I read this one and there is so much to learn about relationships in this book. Am currently reading - almost through with the next one. Do you have that one in your TBR pile too! I bet you do!!
    As always awesome review!!

    1. I totally agree with you, Amy. This series not only entertains, but has great personal application. And yes, I'm reading The Desire at the moment. Technically I reviewed The Promise for Revell last fall, but had gotten confused over the tour date and had to skim it in order to post my review. It wasn't a thorough review, though, so I wanted to read it again before starting on The Desire. Hope that made sense!

    2. I gotcha! Cant wait to read your review on The Desire. I am enjoying it.