When You Look at Me by Pepper D. Basham – Book Review

Posted October 23, 2018 by Phyllis Helton in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Giveaways /

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When You Look at Me by Pepper D. Basham - Book Review

My aunt had created a lovely vase and hand-painted a beautiful tree on it. She then shipped it to my grandmother. Sadly, it ended up getting badly broken in the mail. My grandmother painstakingly collected what she thought were all the shards and pieced it back together again to the best of her ability. And she did a fairly good job, yet some holes remain where she was unable to find the pieces and there are lines throughout where she made repairs that are evident if you look closely.

Sometimes we experience things in life that seem like they shatter us that way. We feel we are fractured or crushed beyond repair and any attempt we make only leaves us as damaged goods. David cried out in Psalm 31

I am scorned by all my enemies
and despised by my neighbors—
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street,
they run the other way.
I am ignored as if I were dead,
as if I were a broken pot.

But there is good news, my friends! God does not leave us broken. Jesus quoted this section of Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.

When he was done reading it, he told the people “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” Luke 4:21

Jesus came to free the captive and comfort the brokenhearted! He is our Creator; who could do this better than Him?

When You Look at Me by Pepper D. Basham – Book Review

When You Look at Me

Series: Pleasant Gap Romance #2
Series Rating:
Publication Date October 25, 2018
Genres: Christian Fiction, Mystery, Clean Romance
Setting: Virginia, England Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 25-34
Written for: Adults
Pages: 529


An unexpected mother-to-be

A romance-leery composer

And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures.

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. Following her aunt’s cryptic journal, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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Julia had been crushed by a man she had trusted and struggled to put the pieces of her life together again. With the help of her counselor and through the love of her family she had made progress. Yet she figured she was damaged goods and that no man would ever want her. After all, even her friends had deserted her.

Julia was so special in the way she put people at ease and nurtured them, despite her natural shyness. She seemed to always be watching out for others to make sure they were cared for. This came out so clearly as she recognized Henry’s need to get away from her boisterous family and made a way for him to be able to do that gracefully so neither he nor they were embarrassed.

While I can’t say that I have experienced the kind of discomfort Henry did around people, I did find that it made him quite endearing. He was more comfortable with music than he was with words. As a person who feels that if people aren’t talking they must not be comfortable, it was good for me to see how silence was actually a situation that he was very much at home in. I think that this will impact my interactions with some of the shyer people I come into contact with.

I loved the way Henry and Julia bonded so strongly over music and even spoke music to one another. I cracked up at their music pun session. So cute! One of the sweetest, kindest things I think I have read in a book the way he . . . Sorry – that would have been a spoiler. Let me just say that he found a way to reach Julia and help her through her fears using music in a manner that was so personal and so perfect.

In the midst of their love story is a mystery about Julia’s deceased Aunt Millie. As Henry helps Julia clean out her aunt’s house, they discover clues that point to things being not quite what they appeared. I love the way that music and composing tied so strongly into that story as well.

There are so many “favorite” moments in this story. The fun way Julia and Henry meet was so funny, especially because one accident seemed to happen after another. Their bonding over music. Henry with Eisley’s kids. Julia when she is sleep deprived and goes to the store. The mouse. When they are on the hill behind her aunt’s house and Henry rescues her from the “water fall”. I could go on and on.

I don’t remember being so strongly drawn to Julia’s father when I read Eisley’s story, Just the Way You Are, but Nate was hard to miss in this one! He is one of those down-home country boys who is rough on the exterior and soft as a marshmallow on the interior when it comes to love for his family. His protectiveness towards Julia was almost as touching as Henry’s care for her – and that is saying a lot! His nicknames for Henry and Wes were pretty funny, as was the way he kept trying to encourage them to do “real” manly work.

This deeply moving story is full of hope, of faith and love. Even now, at least a half-hour after I finished reading, I am still a little teary – in a good way. I appreciate so much that despite the fact that it is known that Julia was date-raped, no other details about the event were really given. And they didn’t need to be to make it clear what had happened. The fact she was seven months pregnant was really enough to make that abundantly clear. The story is not depressing or dark by any stretch of the imagination. The focus was not on Julia’s brokenness but on her healing. She and Henry both had strong faith in the Lord and he saw a strength in her that she needed to realize was there and encouraged her through music, words, and Scripture.

Pepper's Blue Ridge Pictures Pinterest Board

(click here to go directly to the board on Pinterest) [gs_pinterest user="pepperbasham" board="blue-ridge-pictures"]


One winner will receive:

  • print copy of Just The Way You Are (Pleasant Gap Romance #1)
  • print copy of When You Look at Me (Pleasant Gap Romance #2)
  • a plaque which says: Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life…. love comes along and brings you a fairy tale

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight October 22, 2018 and lasts through 11:59pm October 29, 2018. Void where prohibited by law. US addresses only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

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About Pepper Basham

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her most recent historical romance, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge, showcases her Appalachian heritage and family history, as well as her love for humor and family.

She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

Pepper loves getting to know readers and other authors through social media. You may also learn more about her on her website!

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6 responses to “When You Look at Me by Pepper D. Basham – Book Review

  1. pepperbasham

    Oh Phyllis!!! Thank you for this BEAUTIFUL review!! I’m so glad Henry and Julia’s story meant so much to you. It was a powerful one to write. There is a letter near the end of the book (I know you’ll know which one I mean) that I still CRY over EVERY time I read it!! And there are scenes I go back and reread for the sweetness or the fun (towels) of them 🙂

  2. Chanel M.

    Wonderful review! I loved reading all the quoted excerpts, too! It makes me excited to read it!