Monday, July 24, 2017

You'll Think of Me by Robin Lee Hatcher, 2017

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In a small town in Idaho’s idyllic wine country where the past looms large, can two people realize their individual dreams for the future … together?

Abandoned once too often, Brooklyn Myers never intended to return to Thunder Creek, Idaho. Her hometown holds too many memories of heartache and rejection. But when her estranged husband Chad Hallston dies and leaves his family home and acreage to her and their ten-year-old daughter Alycia, it's an opportunity to change their lives for the better—a chance Brooklyn can't pass up, for Alycia's sake if not her own.

Derek Johnson, Chad's best friend since boyhood, isn't keen on the return of Brooklyn Myers to Thunder Creek. He still blames her for leading his friend astray. And now she has ruined his chance to buy the neighboring ten acres which would have allowed him to expand his organic farm. To add insult to injury, Chad's dying request was that Derek become the father to Alycia that Chad never was. How can he keep that promise without also spending time with the girl’s mother?

Brought together by unexpected circumstances, Derek and Brooklyn must both confront challenges to their dreams and expectations. He must overcome long held misconceptions about Brooklyn while she must learn to trust someone other than herself. And if they can do it, they just might discover that God has something better in mind than either of them ever imagined.

(320 pages)

First, let's just acknowledge that the premise of You'll Think of Me is slightly creepy. Brooklyn's husband dumped her penniless ten years ago when he found out she was pregnant, but he decided to track her down and leave her his family land to raise their daughter Alycia. He then proceeds to write to his childhood best friend Derek, whom he'd been promising to sell that same house and land to for years, and told him "yeah, I changed my mind. Also, I want you to be the father I never was to Alycia."

I'm sorry, but . . . what? It doesn't sound like Chad ever paid a penny of child support to Brooklyn in all this time–he owes her big-time! But instead of bequeathing her the money she really needs, he leaves her a dusty old fixer-upper and a bunch of land in a town she hates. Then he asks a friend of his to be Alycia's father, as though he has any parental claim to the girl (or any right to ask a stranger, without Brooklyn's consent, to take on such an intimate role with her daughter!). I feel like Derek never completely acknowledged how messed-up his old best friend's actions really were. Brooklyn does, which is good, but he just skirts around it and talks about "honoring Chad's last wishes" with Alycia.

Setting that aside, though, I did enjoy reading You'll Think of Me. Once in a while, it's nice to just read a fluffy romance book. This one reminded me of that old Sandra Bullock movie, Hope Floats, just with less questionable behavior and more religious lines. This is one of the first Christian romance books I read where I didn't feel like the portrayal of faith was so cheesy it was ridiculous, though, so that's good.

Basically, if you're looking for a fun, fluffy romance read then this fits the bill. It's nothing extraordinarily memorable, but it's entertaining and even meaningful and better than most of the books out there. Once you get past Chad's questionable role in Brooklyn's life, there's a lot of good to be discovered here–the characters are realistic and flawed, the situations are plausible enough, and the relationship that grows up between Derek and Brooklyn is sweet (though I never felt as emotionally invested in it as I'd have liked).

Have you read You'll Think of Me? If so, let us know what you thought of it in the comments section below!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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