Kindle Edition, 422 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Larkspur Press
“It was just a house. Just a weathered old house in a hidden grove, shuttered and still...”
Last year, after traumatic circumstances forced her from her job as a nanny, Mara Bristol finally found a place to belong—the winsome Everwood Bed & Breakfast at the edge of Maple Valley, Iowa. For months, she’s helped its owner, Lenora, maintain the ramshackle property despite their shortage of guests. But when Lenora fails to return from a month-long trip and the bank threatens foreclosure, Mara worries she’s once again alone . . . abandoned . . . about to lose the only true home she’s ever known.
Detective Marshall Hawkins is no closer to whole today than he was two years ago . . . the day his daughter died. Between his divorce, debilitating migraines, and a dependence on medication, his life is falling apart. And when a reckless decision on the job propels him into administrative leave, he has no other plan but to get in his truck and drive. A one-night stay at the Everwood was supposed to be just that. But there’s something about the old house—or maybe its intriguing caretaker—that pulls him in.
Together, Mara and Marshall set out to save the Everwood. But its secrets run deeper than they could’ve imagined. As they renovate the house and search for its missing owner, they’ll each confront the pain that brought them to the Everwood in the first place . . . and just maybe discover a faith and love to help them carry on.
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"I'm ready to let God put me back together. I know now there's life beyond the brokenness."
Now and Then and Always—characters, setting, plot, mystery all combine to create one of the most delightful books I’ve read this year! I was captivated and read it in a day. That’s saying something for me, or rather the author. J It’s an emotional story that brought laughter and tears more than once and had me smiling a lot. And yet the pain Marshall is experiencing since the death of his precious daughter, Laney, is too familiar. I can’t spend too much time thinking about that other than to say that Melissa Tagg has written it as if she has experienced it but I sure hope not. I hope it is pure skill and a blessed gift from God that she can write about such devastating loss. Everything described that Marshall feels and thinks, I have been there or I’m still there in my own grief journey. But I have hope that I, too, am not so broken that God can’t heal me.
Mara has found purpose and friendship in Maple Valley. Lenora, elderly owner of Everwood, helps her discover what can be and not just what was. Their friendship is bound in need and love and an answer to prayers not even realized. I loved hearing Lenora’s thoughts. At first I thought they were written as diary entries but then realized that wasn’t the case. I was anxious to find out what was happening to her. There is a mystery surrounding Lenora and her parents who disappeared many years ago. It’s woven expertly through the story.
None of the main characters are related but they’ve formed their own family with one another. I look forward to finding out more about Jen and Lucas and Sam. Maple Valley is a storyworld like no other and one that any reader would want to live in. I highly recommend this book to fans of good clean contemporary romance with strong yet subtle faith elements interlaced throughout.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.