Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Paper Hearts" by Courtney Walsh

I read this book in under 30 hours.  That's how much these characters sucked me into their lives.  I never get to read a book that quickly these days -- it takes me at least a week for most books, and often longer.  But I have a cold, so I kind of took the afternoon off on Monday, once Sam had his schoolwork done.  Camped out on the couch with this book and a box of Kleenex, and the kids came over now and then when they needed something.  (The Kleenexes were because of the cold, not the book.)  I threw caution (and the other 4 books I'm reading) to the wind and read the first 170 pages that day, and finished it on Tuesday.  Unheard of!  Absurd!

Yes, I inhaled this book.  I think I liked it so well because it reminded me a lot of one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail (1998).  Just like in that movie, the heroine here owns a book store she inherited from a parent, and a newcomer is going to push her out of business, though here he's a doctor and not a fellow book store owner.  I guess I've always thought it would be cool to own a book store, though far more work than I'm actually willing to do, lol.  But experiencing that vicariously is a lot of fun for me.

Also, the hero is damaged goods with a tragic past, and you know how I love those.  He's not quite broody enough to be Byronic, but he's very sad and in need of hugs nonetheless.  So I was rooting for him to get a happily-ever-after.

The whole thing takes place in a small town called Loves Park that is a sort of Romance Central -- it's a tourist destination for couples, with a special postmark people like to get on their wedding invitations and other equally floofy, lovey-dovey stuff going on.  Abigail is 29 and single, with a mother who is absolutely insistent she get married as soon as possible.  Abigail is equally insistent she is content being single and running the bookstore her father bequeathed her. 

Enter Dr. Jacob Willoughby, a widower with his name straight out of Jane Austen and his looks straight out of a movie (I kept seeing him being played by Brendan Fraser).  He buys the building that contains Abigail's Book Nook, and he plans to use the whole building to create his own medical clinic.

You can see where this is going.  Oh, but I didn't tell you about the absolutely horrible woman Jacob has working for him!  Her name is Kelly, and several times after one of her scenes, I had to close the book and fume for a bit before picking it up again.  Dreadful woman.  Quite well-written, in other words, to have me loathing her so thoroughly.  Kelly is ostensibly helping Jacob set up his clinic because she is a successful businesswoman (and Jacob's dead wife's college roommate), but she's really trying to hook up with Jacob.  

So, with the exception of Kelly, I really enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it to people who like "inspirational romance," which is not usually my cup of tea at all.  So I'm not sure if that makes my recommendation weigh more or less, lol.

And actually, it's given me an idea for a novel, one about a woman who insists she doesn't want to get married and means it.  I've read a lot of books where a singleton tells people she's perfectly happy to be single, but inside she's yearning for love, whether she knows it herself or not yet.  And I realized while reading this that I'd be way more interested in the story of a woman who says she doesn't want to get married because she actually doesn't.  She's honestly content being single.  And you know what they say:  write the book you want to read.  So I've popped that idea into the old percolator, and we'll see if anything comes of it.

Particularly Good Bits:

Who needs a man when you have shelves of beautiful books and dreams of growth and success?  (p. 8).

It was so hard having handsome enemies (p. 11).

"But the very best love stories are the ones that are flawed and full of forgiveness and pain and joy and challenges and happiness" (p. 361).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG.  There's some kissing, but it's all pretty tame.


  1. This looks like such a charming book! I haven't read a good romance in oh so long, so I might have to pick this one up.

    I'd also be interested to read about a woman who genuinely is not heartbroken over being single. I think it would make a fascinating read.

    1. It was very charming. Worth reading, for sure!

      And yes, I feel like that's not a story that gets told very often. Off the top of my head I can only think of True Grit by Charles Portis as an example of a woman staying single because she chose to.

  2. Goodness, I'm way behind on getting caught up on your blog! I hadn't even realized you read this book. Shame on me. But yay! Glad to hear you enjoyed it! Especially as I know this is your typical genre of choice. I haven't read it yet, but it's on my shelf waiting. Someone else likened it to You've Got Mail (which I love!), so that's ultimately what convinced me to buy it. Now to make time to read it! :)

    1. I meant "isn't" your typical genre of choice... (oops)

    2. Well, the read-along does make posts come thick and fast right now, so I'm sure it's easy for other reviews to get buried. I've been trying to keep things going quickly so it doesn't drag on past May, but wow, it leaves little time for any other blogging!

      And how cool that I'm not the first one to think it was a bit like You've Got Mail. What a delicious movie that is!

      Anyway, I hope you have time to read it soon, because I think you will enjoy it a lot :-)

  3. Your review really makes me want to read this book! When I first saw it I was drawn in by the pretty cover, and I loved the synopsis, but then I found out it was a Christian romance. I don't usually read those (except for Julie Klassen's books) because I usually find them too preachy. But I do like a clean romance so I'm still thinking of trying it, I'm just not sure about the "inspirational" part of it.

    Two of my favorite classics, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, both have a lot of religion in them but it's weaved in so naturally that they don't feel like "inspirational" books.

    So I'm wondering, how is the religion presented in Paper Hearts?

    1. Oh and I probably should have mentioned that I am Christian so that's not what bothers be in "inspirational romances", just the way it's usually presented most of the time (unlike the way it is weaved in naturally in many classics).

    2. Hi, Anna284! I'm sorry it's taken me several days to respond -- life is super busy right now. I don't read a lot of Christian romance either, because books where the romance is the focus of the story don't tend to interest me. I'm not opposed to there being romance in books, but if it's the main plot, there has to be some other cool thing going on to make me read it. Like the bookstore in this, or the WWII setting for many of Sarah Sundin's books.

      As I recall, it was not overly preachy -- if it had been, I wouldn't have liked it this well, I'm pretty sure. I prefer books where a character's faith is an integral part of their life, not just jammed in here and there.


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