Brooke Holloway is a single mom of two who lost the love of her life. Her son, Spencer, doesn’t want her to date, while her daughter, Meghan, wishes to have a father. But since she runs the family owned hardware store, Brooke doesn’t have time to date and doesn’t have dating on her mind, until Owen Saunders moves to town. Curious about the house he has moved into, a house with a decades old mystery, Brooke befriends him expecting, as he does, nothing but a simple, grown up friendship. But God has other plans, so as their friendship and their connection grow, hope is met, and faith is found, and they have a new chance at love, a new life and a complete family.
I wasn’t expecting much when I started reading this book. A little romance, a little mystery, a little entertainment, but nothing much. The author, however, surprised me in a very big way. 'The House that Love Built' is a beautiful story of forgiveness, second chances, starting over and letting go. I laughed, I was intrigued, I smiled, and I cried… a lot.
The main characters are very well developed, mature, not prone to dumb misunderstandings or childish outbursts. Brooke and Owen’s friendship seemed a little too quick to develop, but not unrealistic given the fact that they are immediately attracted to each other and the friendship is their cover up, their denial in action. Brooke’s children are very much aware of this, especially Spencer, and his interactions with them, how suspicious he is, is very believable, funny and very endearing, since it is obvious that he is still very much affected by the death of his father.
Both children were beautifully written, as well as the rest of the secondary characters. Rich in details, with very defined personalities, each secondary character adds to the story, keeps the reader interested and finds his/her way into the reader’s heart. This is possible because author Beth Wiseman’s sensitivity in her writing, which is palpable in almost every page. You don’t just read about these characters, you feel them, you know their pain, you care for them. The author tells their story in a very touching and tender way that moves your heart.
However, although the book was going great, I had cried my eyes out, and was set to give it 5 stars, the last 40 pages or so were too melodramatic, with a few too many coincidences. What began as a great book ended with an intensification in drama (with the introduction of Virginia, Owen’s ex-wife) that was unnecessary and which lead to a couple of too good to be true resolutions.
The mystery that intrigues Brooke, as well as Owen, his Uncle, and particularly Spencer (and me) is interesting but sometimes it was too far back in the story, as if the characters themselves had forgotten about it. Its resolution, however, was nice but also too convenient.
I loved how the stories interlaced, how one character led to the introduction of the other, how the story flowed, and the sensibility with which the author writes. The characters’ stories of forgiveness and letting go drive deep into the heart and give a sense of hope that stays with the reader. Even with a somewhat disappointing last pages, the book’s sweet and touching storyline of love, family, and God’s strength in the midst of our problems is enough to leave the reader satisfied.
4 out of 5 stars
*I received a copy of this book from the publishers through The Christian Manifesto in exchange of an honest review.