What do a woman of faith and a heathen biker have in common? The devil, of course.
Tessa is moved to intercede for a man she's never met. When they do meet, she's stunned. Gunnar is gorgeous, charismatic, and driven. He's also hostile, self-destructive, and an unbeliever... and she's drawn to him like no other. The temptation she feels is as dangerous as it is alluring. She wants to stay away, but God has other plans. He reveals the devil's intent to destroy Gunnar, and commissions Tessa to keep Gunnar covered in prayer. Can she rely on God to keep her from falling... in love, and into temptation? Or will the devil claim them both?
The Covering is my first book by Dana Pratola, but will most certainly not be my last. I love Pratola’s writing style. The beautiful language combined with a gripping story and fully fleshed-out characters make for an unforgettable read.
God places a need in Tessa’s heart to pray for a man she has never met. She doesn’t know who, where or why – she only knows that she is driven to pray for someone and that it is a matter of life and death. She faithfully prays for the stranger and eventually realises why God commissioned her to pray for Gunnar before she met him – God knew she wouldn’t have wanted to pray for Gunnar once they meet. She would have obeyed, but she would have struggled with it. God got her in the habit to pray for Gunnar so that she could faithfully continue once they meet despite Gunnar's behaviour (in general and towards Tessa). To say that Gunnar is a complicated man is an understatement – he is hostile, rude and aggressive. Tessa can’t deny that Gunnar intimidates her but she stands her ground, unknowingly earning his admiration and respect.
Though different as can be, in every imaginable way, Gunnar and Tessa can’t deny or fight their attraction to one another; but Heaven knows they try. God has other plans…
Tessa won't get romantically involved with Gunnar, not only because of his less attractive personality traits, but mainly because he is an unbeliever. As a woman of faith, Tessa knows that the Bible warns against getting romantically involved with a partner who doesn’t share her faith – yet she has feelings for Gunnar that no man has ever awoken in her. Tessa can’t understand it. God not only puts it in Tessa’s heart to cover Gunnar in prayer, He keeps throwing the two of them together. Tessa is terrified of the sexual chemistry she has with Gunnar. It threatens her morals and values – and her sanity. She undertakes to avoid Gunnar as much as possible, but several close calls on Gunnar’s life and disturbing dreams where Gunnar finds himself in hell makes it clear to Tessa that Satan is pushing for Gunnar to lose his life while he is still lost. Tessa realises that God and Satan are battling for Gunnar’s soul and that she has an important part to play in not only helping to keep Gunnar under God's protection, but also opening Gunnar’s mind to the possibility of salvation. Avoiding Gunnar is not an option.
Gunnar in turn fights his attraction towards Tessa because he believes he is no good for her – and I don’t say that lightly. This is not Edward Cullen being self-deprecating, Gunnar truly believes bone-deep that he isn’t worthy of Tessa. Gunnar is an unbeliever and his history reflects as much. He’s not proud of his past and he believes if Tessa were to learn all there is to know about him, she wouldn’t give him the time of day. He has a mean streak, he has problems with his temper and he has known countless women. Somehow Tessa's opinion of him has come to mean more than he could have imagined. Aside from the fact that her brother in no uncertain terms told Gunnar to keep away from Tessa, she is a good, pure, Christian girl and Gunnar refuses to corrupt her and tries to stay away. He can't.
Tessa and Gunnar embark on a tentative friendship which soon develops into something deeper. As Tessa clings to God to strengthen her in the face of temptation unlike any she has never known, Gunnar begins to contemplate the validity of her beliefs. Slowly but surely God works in two stubborn hearts to bring them not only His mercy and grace, but also the kind of love they never could have dreamed possible.
Even though they are as different as night and day, I adore both Gunnar and Tessa. They complement each other very well and balance each other out. This is not your typical good-girl-falls-for-bad-boy-story. Their chemistry is tangible and the progression of their relationship is extremely realistic, possibly the best I’ve ever experienced in fiction. While they are attracted to each other, they don’t jump into a relationship. Each of them is aware of the reasons they shouldn’t be together, and these reasons carry a lot of weight. They both do a lot of thinking, considering and soul-searching before they decide to test the waters. Even then they take it very slow, getting to know each other at a tempo that Tessa is comfortable with. Gunnar has some trouble with it, but he knows that Tessa is worth the wait. This being religious fiction, Pratola does an amazing job of including sexual chemistry and sexual tension without going too far.
Another very realistic aspect of the novel is Gunnar’s struggle with faith. The doubts he has, the questions he asks and the concepts he ponders are very real and very believable. His attitude towards Christianity is skilfully handled, as is his gradual consideration of its beliefs.
This is Christian fiction, so you might have guessed that Gunnar ultimately accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. The pacing of his struggle with Christianity towards his ultimate acceptance, repentance and conversion is perfect. It doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen before he comes to grip with his past, man's sinful nature and his need of salvation. The whole process of Gunnar’s disbelief to considering the possibility to accepting the Gospel as truth is very realistic. The author did a wonderful job of making this process not only believable, but emotional as well.
A deep and sometimes dark, thought-provoking read, The Covering is one for my favourites-shelf. I highly recommend this very touching book.
Title: The Covering
Author: Dana Pratola
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
ISBN-13: 978 1611161014