Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Book Review: Courage to Change by Elizabeth Maddrey

If you read my previous review of Elizabeth Maddrey's Wisdom to Know, then you know that, while the book was decent in and of itself, the ending left a bit to be desired.

I'm thrilled to say...the second book more than makes up for it.
Courage to Change shifts focus from the main couple of the original book, Lydia and Kevin, to Kevin's long-time attorney friend, Allison. She has a secret crush on her law firm partner Phil. But Phil comes with some pretty heavy baggage: a psychotic ex-wife. It's a part of his life he doesn't talk about much. Since getting saved and leaving the hard partying lifestyle they shared, Phil tried everything he could to salvage his marriage to Brandi. But Brandi would have none of it. She walked out on him and he was left with the stigma of divorce, a condition he believes makes him ineligible for remarriage.

When Allison finally works up the courage to even hint at the beginnings of a relationship, Phil quite literally runs away. Allison is left wondering what it is about her that seems to drive men away. After all, she's 27. Her parents expected her to be married and settled by now. Even her friends are beginning to mock her for holding onto her purity for so long instead of playing the field and having a little fun.

But Phil and Allison will be forced to draw closer together when they begin working with a client in some pretty extreme circumstances. Can Phil overcome the problems of his past? Can Allison overlook the emotional baggage that comes with loving a divorcee? Or will disapproving parents and a vengeful ex-wife tear them apart for good?
I really liked this book. It has a lot of the punch and drama that the first one was missing. Every other chapter has a new twist or angle to keep your interest. I actually listened to the audiobook version (because when you have 2 small kids, you can't take your eyes off them for a second) and found myself loath to turn it off whenever I got interrupted. Every time I thought I knew where the book was going, it would shift directions on me and keep me guessing.

I love the characters. They have so much personality and I feel as though I actually got to know them rather than just know about them. I did think Phil's belief of not being able to remarry was just a tad out of character for him. He is an attorney after all. I get the feeling the first thing he'd do after becoming a Christian would be to research everything to learn what is and isn't allowed. But I suppose I can chalk that one up to his brains running off with his emotions.

We do get to hear more about Lydia and Kevin as they plan their wedding. Lydia seems to have mellowed and matured a bit since the last book (a welcome change). And I really liked getting to know Lindsey, the pregnant teen that Phil and Allison are working with.
Not only does her portrayal give an accurate description of teenage pregnancy (fathered by a much older man, which is something my family actually knows a bit about) but it shows just how wonderful and beautiful adoption can be. As a friend to several women who either adopted children or were adopted themselves, and as a mother who hopes to adopt some day, it really does my heart good to see it shown in such a positive yet realistic light. It can be messy. It can certainly be painful. But it's almost always worth it. In a world where children are treated like disposable accessories, I'm glad there are authors out there willing to show that giving life is far more heroic than taking it. I almost found myself wanting to know more about Lindsey and her journey after the book ended. Maybe she'll get her own book some day. (Hint, hint!)

All in all, it was well written, action-packed, realistic while still being romantic (a tough balance to pull off), and a beautiful story about how a person's past may affect who they are, but it doesn't have to define or limit what they can become. An excellent read through and through.

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