by Toni Shiloh
Series: Freedom Lake #1
Published by Toni Shiloh
Publication Date September 26, 2017
Genres: Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Indiana Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 25-34
Written for: Adults
Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school, has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings.
Evan Carter can’t believe he has to return home and live with his parents. Every hope and dream he ever had dissipated in a car crash that cost him his leg. Stuck in a wheelchair, he’s forced to reexamine his relationship with God and the local carpenter, Jo Ellen Baker.
Will renovating his home open the door for a mended relationship, or are some wounds too deep to heal from?
I would like to thank Celebrate Lit for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
Also in this series: Grace Restored, Finally Accepted
Evan’s journey out of despair over losing his leg and almost-fiancée is a beautiful story. It caused me to think about things I had never even considered before. Could grief keep me from making choices that would improve my quality of life? What would it be like to be confined to a wheelchair for life and return to a place where everyone knew you? How would I deal with the thought of everyone staring at me? What would it be like to be unable to take care of “normal” things like getting from one room to another when the doorway is too narrow for the chair?
New-to-me author Toni Shiloh did a great job in covering Evan’s spiritual journey in a way that flowed naturally and taught spiritual lessons in a non-preachy manner. I loved the conversation that he had with his friend Darrel as he shared what to expect when he attended church for the first time in his life. I especially admired the explanation he gave about the offering.
Despite the heavy subject matter, the story was not depressing but was rather hopeful. The process of Jo forgiving Evan for the cruel way he treated her in high school was realistic. It didn’t happen overnight and the author made it clear that it was not easy for her to do. The timing of the events was reasonable and not forced.
He winked at her, dropped her hand and headed for the kitchen.
She stared at her hand, noting the sameness. It hadn’t changed. Yet the feeling coursing through it staggered her. She felt like her heart had literally been touched. All because he touched me. She shook her hand, trying to jar the feeling, but her mind replayed the pattern Evan’s thumb had followed while holding her hand.
This story stands alone but also introduces characters and situations that hint at least one more book in the series. I’m looking forward to reading more about the secondary characters in the next books of this series.
There were a few editing misses that distracted me slightly from the story (because of the way my brain works!) and a couple of inconsistencies related to the timing of a conversation after a date – did the conversation take place the day after or two? Certainly not enough to make me not like the story, but enough to note.