Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Grace Alive by Natasha House

Heart of Grace, #1
Book Cover and Synopsis:
Meet Zoe Reed. She is 26, unmarried, and still living with her parents. She works at a lame craft store, where she feels like her life has become one giant disappointment. She's waiting for Mr. Right, yet having never been on a date—let alone kissed a man—she wonders if he will ever come. When Branson Tate and his three kids stumble into her life, she finds the breathtaking man to be exactly opposite of what her parents want for her. He’s not a virgin, has a crazy past, and three children to prove it. Even still, the moment Branson asks her out for coffee, she hears God tell her to go, and her life begins to flip upside down.

My source for book: Personal Library 
My Thoughts:
Not having any prior experience with this author, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself immediately pulled into the story and entertained right from the first page. I really liked Zoe as she's very easy to relate to and has an amusing personality. Her job at the weird craft store, in combination with her sarcastic tendencies and frank thoughts, makes for some very humorous moments! Her struggle to follow God's will is very interesting, in light of the fact that her parents are telling--practically demanding--her to do exactly the opposite of what she feels God wants. 

Branson's past contains some of the worst stuff possible--from a human perspective, at least--and though I was initially shocked, I actually really liked the boldness that the author showed in giving him such a sordid past, thereby displaying the extremity of God's forgiveness and love, and the power it has to change even the darkest of lives. I liked how Branson was such a nice guy and so awesome with his kids--completely different than you would expect him to be, considering his past. His kids added some cute moments to the story, and the sub-plot concerning Branson's dual-custody of them was quite interesting; I actually wish a bit more time would have been devoted to it.

Much of the plot revolves around law vs grace, and while it's appropriate in the context of the story, it does come off a bit preachy. There's quite a bit of God speaking to people throughout, though not necessarily audibly. Much of this I thought was really cool, liked when Zoe would know God was encouraging her to blindly do the right thing in the midst of a difficult situation... but at other times it was just a bit too much and felt unrealistic. I'm not here to debate the theological aspects, but I will say that both the "law" and the "grace" sides are depicted as fairly extreme, and those in the "grace" camp struck me as being somewhat charismatic. 

The story started out extremely strong for me, but as it progressed I become less enthused. It's hard to discuss without giving spoilers (which I won't do), but I can safely say that a few things--the situation with Zoe's Dad, in particular--took some turns that were rather unpleasant. I wish that situation could have been done a bit different, maybe with something not quite *so* drastic.

Overall, there really was a lot that I liked about Grace Alive--Zoe's personality and the author's writing style being at the top--but I'm still undecided if I will ultimately continue with the series or not. I kind of doubt it, though it is in the realm of possibility.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

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