Merrimon Book Reviews


From Merrimon Book Reviews
 Forgiven by Shelley Shepard Gray
  by Shelley Shepard Gray

Multidimensional tale of romance and forgiveness
A sudden fire destroys the Lundy barn, leaving Winnie in the hospital with injuries.  A chance encounter with Englisher Samuel Miller, a former member of the Amish community, brings friendship to Winnie while separated from her family and community of faith.  Samuel left the community when he was young to pursue a university education and honor the natural gifts given to him by God.  As their friendship deepens, Winnie and Samuel must face the challenges to their love and faith, particularly as each lives in such a different world.  When the fire inspectors discover that a stray cigarette started the fire, her brother Jonathan knows he should forgive and yet he feels he needs to know who started the fire and why.  Can he figure out the answer but more importantly, how will God act in the lives of those who dare to forgive and those who dare ask to be forgiven? 

In FORGIVEN, the third in the Sisters of the Heart inspirational romances, Shelley Shepard Gray creates a multidimensional story of forgiveness within a Christian community.  Gossip and honest searching to live a faithful life, teenage adolescence and fear all provide tensions as one act might divide the community.  
Jonathan may appear stubborn as the community urges him to just forgive and put the whole event behind him, but the author looks into the heart of a man who has been wronged and his need to understand.  Shelley Shepard Gray goes beyond a stereotypical or simplistic tale of easy redemption to look into her characters' hearts.  Following God's way, Jonathan is also a man who looks inside himself, not just blindly obedient but a man who internalizes God's message.  As the story unfolds, the reader feels both a sense of community and a sense of individuality as her characters live out their lives. 

In FORGIVENthe characters come alive.  Under the author's pen, each character becomes an individual.  At moments Winnie just sparkles right off the page into the heart with her delightful sense of humor and connection to one of Samuel's students.  The reader feels the gifts within Samuel that made him leave the community for an education.  As Winnie and Samuel get to know one another, the reader easily feels the chemistry of the heart that draws them together and the conflict which threatens their romance.  Shelley Shepard Gray ties these two stories, the romance and the fire together in an inspirational romance that focuses on community (and being outside the community of faith).  Some modern Christian women readers may feel a slight disappointment in the resolution of the romance.  Although the romance aspect is wonderfully done, the author does such an excellent job at making her characters individuals and showing God's work in their individual plans, that some readers may be left wondering how, other than the romance itself, God is working to challenge the innate gifts within Winnie.  The ending makes sense, especially on a thematic level, but I could not help but want to know more about her because she was such a unique character.  In short, a fourth Sisters of the Heart book in which readers see Winnie years later would be a wonderful addition to this series and one this reader would welcome.  :-)

Shelley Shepard Gray's FORGIVEN is a must read for lovers of inspirational romance who love dynamic characters, a wonderful romance in which the hero and heroine bring out the best in one another, and a classic Christian message seen from many dimensions, dimensions which individualize and strengthen the key themes.  Written in a light, easy to read style, but one in which the characters have much depth, FORGIVEN will appeal to young and adult readers alike who want more from their inspirational romance reading. Delightful!

Publisher: Avon Inspire  (Feb. 2009)
Series: Sisters of the Heart
Other books in the series: WANTED and HIDDEN
Author website

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
Merrimon Book Reviews

Custom Search

Copyright Merrimon Crawford  2009  All Rights Reserved