Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: A Brush with Love

A Brush with Love
By Rachel Hauck
A Year of Weddings Novella
Zondervan, 2014


Ginger Winters is a gifted hairstylist with scars no one can see. The last thing she expects from the New Year is a new chance at love.

Overcoming a childhood tragedy, Ginger emerges from the pain and trauma with a gift for bringing out the beauty in others. From the top big city salons to traveling the world as personal stylist to a country music sensation, success was almost enough to make Ginger forget her she would never be one of the beautiful people.

Almost. Now that she's back home in Rosebud, Alabama and running her own salon, the truth remains: Ginger is still that girl, forever on the outside looking in. But she needs her confidence this weekend. She's the acclaimed "beauty-maker" for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.

When high-school crush Tom Wells Jr. also returns to town and shows up at her shop looking for a haircut, Ginger's thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her locked away from love, Despite Tom's best efforts, Ginger can't forget how he disappeared on her twelve years ago and broke her heart. Can she ever trust him again?

When Tom challenges her to see her own beauty, Ginger must decide if she will remained chained to the past or move freely into a new, exciting future.

My thoughts

A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck is a novella of an estimated 114 pages in length, part of the Year of Weddings 2 series, and only available electronically. Rachel excels at contemporary romance and I enjoyed this story overall. It is a beautiful example of how fiction can touch lives, how God uses flawed people, and gives the reader opportunity for reflection.

In A Brush with Love, we see sharp contrasts between the hypocrisy of would-be Christians and those who reflect the love and tenderness of Christ; and the conflicting inner view of a woman who makes others beautiful, yet is held in the ugly grip of her tragic past. I loved the prophetic nature of these opening words:

"The crazy January day it snowed in Rosebud, Alabama, Ginger Winters sensed a shift in her soul."

It was so easy to connect with Gin from the very first page - a young woman tragically wounded at the age of twelve, but who had become a survivor and found her purpose, that of making women beautiful. "But the truth remained, even among her success. Ginger was that girl, ugly and scarred, forever on the outside looking in." And Tom, following God's call to start a church in Rosebud, is a flawed character that I admired from the beginning. I think it's because he remembers his past and is thankful for redemption that he is able to see others as Christ sees them - and works to convey that to Gin.

My only criticism is that this should have been a novel - and rather than a criticism, that's really a compliment to Rachel's writing. Publishers seem to be pushing novellas a lot these days, and that's exactly what I'm often in the mood for. But whether it's a novella or full-length novel, what I look for is character depth. Rachel did a very good job with the space she was allowed, but there just wasn't time for the Tom's attraction to Gin to feel real after a twelve-year separation. And when Gin began to change in the last chapter, I wanted to see more of that development. Then there's an epilogue that takes place eight months later, and it is wonderful. But I longed to read more of the gradual spiritual transformation and romance that took place during those months. Again, this is a tribute to Rachel's storytelling that left me yearning for more.

"True love causes even the most closed heart to fling wide."

This story has an important message that needs to be heard, that will touch many readers, and I don't hesitate to recommend it.

Rachel Hauck

        Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best-selling 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.
        A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.
        Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets, and writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Connect with Rachel online 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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