Charming the Troublemaker
by Pepper D. Basham
Series: Mitchell's Crossroads #2
Published by Bling! Romance
Publication Date November 1st 2017
Genres: Christian Fiction, Clean Romance, Suspense
Setting: West Virginia Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 25-35
Written for: Adult
When Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looked as good as it did on Rainey Mitchell.
Rainey Mitchell does not need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptation wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne.
When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again?
"Rainey Mitchell is doing just fine. She has a great job helping children in need, her family is around her, she is mother to a fabulous little girl, and is getting over the betrayal of her ex-husband. Dr. Alex Murdock is not doing so well, as he is forced to work at a rural university, his life is full of secrets surrounding his family, and he has to start over in a new town. Luckily, Rainey, the daughter of his landlord, is there to get him settled. Rainey just wants to stay away from the new professor, who has the same charm as her ex. Unfortunately, they seem to need each other. Rainey needs his grant-writing ability to save her program, and Alex is terrible at the lecturing at which Rainey excels. The two must work together to fulfill their goals, but will they be able to do it? Rainey's insecurities and Alex's obsession with protecting his family could be their undoing. A well-written love story filled with suspense, mystery, and a loving family." ~ Library Journal Review
Wow. Where to even start on this review is a problem. I generally jot down a few notes while I’m reading so I remember things I want to mention in my reviews. And, depending on the book, I may have a half page to a page (handwritten, so it isn’t necessarily as much as it sounds like). With Charming the Troublemaker, I seriously ended up with three pages of notes, and that doesn’t even count the quotes I highlighted as I read. I won’t make this review take up thousands of words (hey! I heard those sighs of relief!), but this review may end up a little longer than usual. 🙂
As I read the book, I found myself alternating between cracking up (almost to the point of tears at the scene where Alex dropped his phone out the car window), sighing, getting teary, and sitting at the edge of my seat anticipating what was coming next. This story was quite the blend of Christian living, suspense, romance and humor. It was a very natural blend of the above. I saw one description of the book as being a mystery, but I wouldn’t classify the book as such myself.
In addition to the budding relationship between Alex and Rainey, there were a couple of other elements that were woven into this story: Rainey was being threatened by a man she had reported for abusing his wife and son, the TLC tutoring center Rainey invested her heart into was in danger of being shut down, and Alex had secrets he couldn’t share that involved danger and caused mistrust between them.
Rainey was distrustful of men and unaware of her value after being demoralized by her ex-husband, his demeaning treatment of her and his cheating ways. Convinced that she was unattractive, undesirable and unlovable, she had quite a road to travel to get to the place God wanted her and to learn her value in Christ. As a woman who has dealt with insecurities since being a teenager, I was able to relate well to her struggles.
Alex exhibited a flirtatious, cocky, confident exterior, but was sweetly broken from the lack of relationship with his father, the death of his mother and the feeling of never measuring up to the expectations his dad had for him. Added to that, the death of his fiancee and the accident resulting from trying to drive his sister and niece to safety from the pursuit of her husband… The way he was transformed by God’s love through the story was so beautiful. I loved Alex enough that I found most of my notes were about him and how wonderful he is.
There was plenty of action, descriptions of the beauty of the Blue Mountains, and swoony kisses in the story, but I also found that there was so much of Rainey and Alex’s thoughts, hopes and dreams. This made for a highly emotional and touching story with a greater depth of characters than is often seen. Reading this story was like snuggling up in front of a cozy fire, wrapped up in a comforter and drinking hot chocolate (or the hot beverage of your choice). Despite the suspenseful element and anticipation of the blowout that happened, it was a peaceful experience.
As a couple of side notes, I just watched Tangled last night, so the scene where Rainey used a cast iron frying pan in the way she did cracked me up. I also loved the translation of the Bible that the author used for the quotes sprinkled throughout the story.
Both Alex and Rainey were introduced in the first book of this series, A Twist of Faith. Though reading that retelling of Pygmalion (or My Fair Lady) before this book would enhance the reading of this one and would fill in some of the backstory. I appreciated the way the author gave enough details to make this story stand by itself, but didn’t retell all the details that were already told in the first book.
If I had to come up with an overarching theme of the book, it would be that God’s love is greater than all our shortcomings, with a secondary theme that God’s love is always enough.
Stay tuned for another post or two highlighting some of the characters from this book. Alex is sure to make an appearance, as will Mama Mitchell with her courting wisdom.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book. Believe me, it was very hard to limit these to the quantity that keeps this from being plagiarism. 🙂
God, in his unfathomable love, took on anguish to give her joy, bore agony to secure her peace, fought the dragons of evil to rescue her. She was beautiful to him. Loved, eternally, by him.
“But I want to be your hero, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help you understand how amazing you are. From the heart out.”
his smile took an easy trip from one cheek to the other.
The gospel is all about second, third, and one hundredth chances.
“One of the great things about God is He makes up for our mistakes. He knows we’re lost without Him, but…” Trigg shook his head, his smile growing with a look of wonder. “He loves us more … and gives us better than we deserve.”