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A gas pipeline explosion and fire destroy Jennifer Evan’s apartment and change her life forever. Not only does she lose her home and beloved dog, the scars that cover her arm, neck and shoulder steal her confidence and cause her fiancé to desert her. With her funds depleted and her job on hold, she heads for Vermont where she hopes to reconnect with her brother and find a way to rebuild her shattered life.
Bill Morgan, head naturalist at the Wild River Nature Center and her brother’s roommate, is a strong, quiet man whose faith runs deep. He and Jenn’s brother determine to help Jenn make a new start in Vermont. Bill’s stumbling attempts to share his faith with Jenn seem to fall flat and push her farther away, but she can see the difference his faith makes in his life, and her heart is still drawn to him. Will she hold on to the pain of her past, or will she surrender her heart and finally find the faith and love she longs for?
Surrendered hearts by Carrie Turansky follows Jennifer Evans as she hits rock bottom. Jennifer lost faith in God many years ago when he failed to answer her prayers and keep her parents alive. With Jennifer’s older brother, Wes, away at college, Jenn is sent to live with an Aunt and Uncle who resent her presence and cause her to retreat even more into herself. Years later after Jennifer has finally established independence, she finds herself homeless and penniless after an explosion and subsequent fire destroy all of Jenn’s possessions. When her injuries from the fire sends her fiancée packing and all of her “friends” suddenly disappears out of her life, Jenn is also more alone and lonely than she’s ever been. Out of options, Jenn packs a single bag and makes her way to Vermont where her brother is planning his wedding.
Showing up on Bill Morgan’s doorstep, Jenn finds that Wes lives with a friend and that there is no room for her. The fact that she shows up unannounced doesn’t help matters, and Jenn soon worries that she will be forced to leave. Jenn needn’t have worried. Wes, a missionary, has prayed for years that God will help him to lead Jenn back to the Lord, sees this opportunity as the answer to his prayers. Bill and Wes open their home and their hearts to Jenn in an attempt to help her reconnect with God.
Bill, however, gets more than he bargained for when he finds himself falling for Jenn. Conflicted, Bill continuously finds himself pulling away from Jenn, despite the fact that she’s capturing his heart fast – he knows what the Bible says about yoking yourself to non-believers. He lets her go and prays for God to work in her heart, and while he tries to be a friend he knows that getting involved with Jenn before they are on the same religious path would be disastrous. Hurting her might push her even farther away from the Lord, and Bill knows that it is more important for Jenn to be with God than with him. Bill’s behaviour confuses Jenn even more and she can’t help but believe that it is her scars that push Bill away every time they come close to being more than friends. How can she find a way to accept the scars on her skin that seem to banish everyone she cares about from her life? How can she find a way to face the scars in her heart that seem to stop her from moving forward? And when will she finally realise that there is only One who can help her deal with both?
This was a very sweet book, I enjoyed it the whole way through. Jenn and Bill are both wonderful characters and complimented each other very well. There are what both characters perceive to be romantic rivals, and the question of whether Bill and Jenn will end up together is not predictable at all. The author makes you care about both of them, what is best for both of them and at times it is not clear whether it is indeed each other. That’s one of the things I enjoyed about this book – the author makes you worry about the outcome; a happy ever after is not at all a sure thing.
Bill’s struggle with falling for a woman who doesn't share his faith in God was wonderfully portrayed and his concerns are some every believer can relate to. I only wish that Jenn’s journey to finding the Lord again was given a little more depth, a little more detail. This aspect is something that Dee Henderson portrayed flawlessly in her O’Malley series, and I would have enjoyed just a bit more of Jenn’s journey to surrendering her heart to God. It seemed almost as if it just happened – it was wonderful and made me happy, I would just have liked some more detail instead of just being told she'd been reading Wes' fiancé, Lauren's, Bible and thinking a lot. The reader should have been made privy to more of the process that led Jenn back to God.
Overall, this was a very sweet, very enjoyable read.
Title: Surrendered Hearts
Author: Carrie Turansky
Publisher: Flowing Stream Books