When the ever-cautious Val Locklier finally agrees to a cross-country move with her nine-year-old son to take a job with her best friend, Molly, everything she had planned for the future unravels within the first week. After pushing aside her anxieties about renting an apartment from Molly’s twin brother, whom she barely knows, she accepts an invitation for an elite filmmaker’s mentorship. Caught between her insecurities and new possibilities, she feels completely unprepared for the challenges ahead.
Pastor Miles McKenzie returns home from abroad to discover that not only does he have an intriguing new tenant living upstairs, he’s been banished to a ministry on life support. Disillusioned and restless, he pursues a relationship with Val without stopping to consider the timing or asking God to direct his steps.
As Val struggles to stop hiding behind the camera and Miles wrestles with shattered expectations, they’ll find that authentic love and sacrifice must go hand in hand.
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Thank you to Bethany House Publishing for a copy of this book. I received no compensation and the opinion in this review is expressly my own.
After reading the first book in this duology, All That Really Matters, I had to get my hands on this novel. It follows the lives of Val and Miles and their budding relationship. Both of them were introduced in the first novel, and I’ve been excited to see how their lives would develop and intertwine in this story!
Val is a single mother who is differently-abled and she moves from Alaska to Spokane, WA with her son for a job with her style-savvy boss, Molly. Once there, she meets her handsome landlord and Molly’s brother, Miles. As she begins volunteering with a project Miles has been assigned and participating in a film internship, she realizes that she hasn’t come to terms with her own turbulent past. At the same time, Miles wonders where he belongs after being reassigned to a new volunteer position in the church. Both of their lives intersect in such a lovely way, and it’s so sweet when they learn to depend on each other.
PG-13: Tame kissing. This novel does gracefully deal with heavier topics like abortion and unexpected pregnancies so I’m upping the rating knowing that this could be troubling to some.
As I mentioned in my review of one of her other novels, Deese does an amazing job of balancing light and dark themes throughout the novel. This novel focused on Val, a single mother, and her journey of faith and her love for photography and film. When she meets Miles, she’s not expecting anything romantic, but she finds comfort in his resolve and determination to help others.
As always, both Miles and Val felt relatable and real which made their journey enjoyable from start to end. Faith fiction can feel forced at times, but Deese weaves it through the novel seamlessly and believably. Both Miles and Val’s strengths complement each other, but they’re able to stand strong on their own and in their faith in God.
Honestly, I really don’t have much to say or much to complain about from reading this book. Deese is a fantastic writer, and tells clean, romantic stories with ease. That said, this book’s strong pro-life message could come across as judgemental to some.
Both Val and Miles seem to be at a crossroads at the beginning of this novel. In different ways, both are searching for their place in this world and they offer insight into each other’s journeys. I feel like Michael W. Smith’s heartfelt anthem is perfect for these two as they seek true meaning and purpose.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking for clean, well-written fiction with a deeper message!