Monday, September 4, 2017

Review: Just Look Up

Just Look Up
By Courtney Walsh
Tyndale, 2017


After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home—a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work—something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along—if only she’d just look up.

My thoughts

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh is everything that a contemporary romance should be … beautifully conveyed setting on the shores of Lake Michigan, well-drawn lead characters who are appealing and relatable, descriptive narrative that flows easily across the page, and spiritual insight that touches lives.

I love Hallmark movies and couldn’t help but think how perfectly Just Look Up fits their theme, as Lane leaves the high-pressure business world of Chicago when her brother is injured and returns to the small community of Harbor Pointe, Michigan. I was quickly drawn into the story and enjoyed its emotional build as more backstory was revealed. There’s a few moving scenes that even had me tearing up. A great supporting cast of characters adds depth and I really hope this is the beginning of a series.

Lane and Ryan (“Brooks”) are memorable characters, so easy to connect with. With a mom who tried to put a positive spin on her pain, Lane carried emotional scars from her growing up years. “She’d done everything she could to eliminate every trace of the girl she’d been, to transform herself into a businesswoman with an incredible career.” But the result was a sacrificing of personal relationships at the altar of a buried past.

Ryan, whose charm masked deep pain, has the characteristics I look for in a hero – tender, patient, sacrificial, and with a sense of humor. Renovating old cottages was more than a business opportunity to him; rather, “therapy without the stuffy doctor peering at him over horn-rimmed glasses.”

Just Look Up is so relevant in its spiritual insights … Forgiveness and grace. That God’s love is not contingent on our works or worthiness. The need to surrender everything in our lives to God. Spending time on what really matters.  Both Lane and Ryan had faith in God, but took on the responsibility for dealing with pain themselves. Maybe, like me, that’s something you can identify with.

Just Look Up has a personal meaning for Courtney Walsh, and I believe it has a message every reader will take to heart.

Look up … from the electronic devices.
Look up … from project deadlines.
Look up … from stress-filled and worrisome situations.
Look up … from whatever is drawing your attention away from all that is around you.

Just Look Up.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Courtney Walsh is the author of Paper Hearts, Change of Heart, and the Sweethaven series. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, was a New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller and a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. In addition, she has written two craft books and several full-length musicals.

Courtney lives with her husband and three children in Illinois, where she is also an artist, theater director, and playwright.