By Varina Denman
Mended Hearts, #3
David C. Cook, 2016
Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago.
Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.
Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must—once and for all—leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.
Quality. That’s the description that first comes to mind when I think back on the Mended Hearts series. Pure literary quality. And then I would have to add poignant, heartwarming, romantic, relevant, and even challenging to my faith. In these stories you will find richly-drawn characters, compelling storylines, and a masterfully-conveyed sense of place in the west Texas community of Trapp. Varina Denman deals with small-town prejudices, a church’s unjustness, and the issue of depression in a way that thoroughly entertains and fascinates.
When I talk about Jilted, it’s hard to separate it from the two previous books, Jaded and Justified, because they all continue as one gently-flowing stream. Although sufficient background is given so that Jilted can stand alone, I highly recommend reading the series in order, because these three novels have continued themes and characters that grow throughout. The storylines develop slowly, as with the gradual pealing back of layers, and the totally unique and endearing characters wormed their way into my heart, forever to be embedded. From the small-town setting and characterization, to the attitudes prevalent among the townspeople, both good and bad, everything has such a realness to it that I had to keep reminding myself that this is a work of fiction.
We first met Lynda, Ruth Ann’s mom, back in book #1, where she was a little … okay, I’ll just say it – unreasonable and unlikeable, yet I saw a glimmer of hope for her character by the end of that book. I loved her determination! Lynda lived with bitter memories that imprisoned her in the past … and in her words, “Anger had become a familiar blanket I habitually wrapped myself in.” Lynda’s daily struggle with depression felt so real that I wanted to cheer when she drew on that determined spirit and decided to be happy, which couldn’t have been easy.
Clyde also came on the scene in the first book when he returned to Trapp after a 20-year incarceration, where he also found Christ. Understandably rough around the edges, his gradual growth throughout the series is beautiful to watch. Lynda and Clyde are strong and unique characters, with the foundation of friendship on which attraction grows.
In Jilted, you will find love and laughter, as in the scene where Clyde asks Lyn to go out with him . . .
Clyde’s laughter bounced off the walls and echoed through my heart, and I realized I hadn’t heard him laugh like that since before he went to prison. His voice boomed as if his happiness came from deep inside, and the sound startled me so much, I took a step back and stared. Wanting to hear more. (Lynda)
In Jilted, you will also find faith realistically played out . . .
Even if the baptized believers were a tangled mess of problems, God wanted Clyde in the middle of them – worshiping, forgiving, tolerating. If he expected them to overlook his faults, he needed to overlook theirs, too. (Clyde)
Jilted reflects hope, second chances, encouragement when circumstances are bad, and the importance of being there for each other, especially in the sharing of burdens.
Jaded, Justified, and Jilted are well worth the investment of time and money. Read them slowly, savor every gentle nuance in Varina’s exquisite writing – and then read them again. I know I will.
Very highly recommended.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and David C. Cook for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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