The Wedding Chapel
By Rachel Hauck
For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.
Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy "Coach" Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love---the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in '49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be---a place for love---and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.
Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart's Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family's abysmal marriage rate. But love surprises her when she falls head-over-heels for Jack Forester, a top ad man. Their whirlwind romance results in an elopement, and a mountain of doubt. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to overcome his own demons to find the words of his heart.
When Taylor takes an assignment in Heart's Bend, the job does more than send her back to her hometown, but into a world of family secrets buried beneath the sands of time.
When Taylor's journey intersects with Coach's, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.
From its rural setting in the small Tennessee town of Heart’s Bend, to its rich characterization and emotional depth, The Wedding Chapel is my kind of book, a story that has that special something that’s hard to describe. There’s an ethereal quality, grace and elegance, symbolism, and the feel of God’s heart throughout. Rachel’s writing is exquisite and the feel of the story is a little reminiscent of the family saga format that I’ve always loved, only shorter. This is one of my favorite reads of the year.
First, a few facts: The Wedding Chapel is different from Rachel’s royal wedding series, but it was fun to see a couple of its characters mentioned. The multi-generational narrative centers around two couples, combining a classic historical romance with a contemporary romance/marriage gone off-course. The story is also told from four points of view, with scenes taking place from 1948 to the early 50s with Jimmy and Colette’s backstory, and then Jack and Taylor in 2015. I enjoy this style and had no trouble keeping up with the flow. Characters are complex and there’s nothing “fluffy” about this story. Real life issues are dealt with – jealousy, deceit, regrets, unforgiveness, lack of communication, bitterness, and the devastating, far-reaching effects of sin. Then, in contrast, we see repentance, confession, forgiveness, second chances, and love.
At the heart of this story is the wedding chapel, which beautifully symbolizes hope and healing, while vividly conveying that there is no time limit on love and second chances. Spiritual themes are present in a subtle way through most of the story, then shine strongly in a conversation toward the end between Jack and his foster dad, Sam Gillingham. Sam pointedly tells Jack that “the good Lord has freely given you everything you need to heal from such a deep hurt, but you choose to keep walking around wounded.” Wow! I hate to think how often that could be said of me.
The story ends in an emotionally satisfying way, ripe with the joy of forgiveness and a fresh start – reminding me of these promises found in Christ as well. The Wedding Chapel is an enjoyable and compelling read. Highly recommended.
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, bestselling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding Dress, Love Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.
She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.
Connect with Rachel at rachelhauck.com, Facebook, and Twitter
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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