CHANGE OF HEART
Evelyn Brandt's carefully constructed life implodes when the FBI crashers her society lunch with news that her husband -- a Colorado senator -- has been arrested for embezzlement. It soon becomes clear he's far from repentant, and this was only the start of his many indiscretions.
As the weeks following the scandal turn into months, Evelyn withdraws from the public eye, even shirking her duties with the philanthropic Valentine Volunteers. The inquisitive group of women, however, are determined not to let Evelyn's divorce destroy her. They have big plans to use her long-forgotten artistic talent to reimagine the city's iconic lamppost hearts. But doing so will force Evelyn to work closely with Trevor Whitney, her ex-husband's former best friend. Though Trevor has been letting her take refuge in his guesthouse, his curtness conveys his unease with the situation.
Amid the beauty of Trevor's farm, Evelyn starts to reclaim dreams she sacrificed to become the perfect politician's wife. And as creativity inspires them both, Whit once again sees the girl he secretly fell in love with all those years ago. But when long-kept secrets threaten to ruin everything, is a change of heart too much to hope for?
First things first: fans of the first book, Paper Hearts, will be thrilled to know that the Valentine Volunteers are back and have no intention of resting on their laurels. Motivated to do good works for their community, they aren't above a little matchmaking now and again because, as Ursula says, "There is nothing better to take your mind off your own troubles than sticking your nose in someone else's." (p. 80) No worries if you haven't read the first book though. Change of Heart reads beautifully as a standalone...though you might want to check on your supply of tissues before you start in.
This is the kind of story that didn't just tug at my heart strings, it yanked them right out, causing some painful splintering before I reached the healing balm of a happily ever after. It's no secret that I love a deeply emotional read, so I was in my glory immersed in all that meaty angst.
I was reeling right along with Evelyn when carefully constructed lies unravel her orderly world. As horrendous as the experience is, it also exposes the real Evie who has been buried under brittle layers for years. Her story completely captivated me. At times I wanted to shake some sense into her, stomp my foot and rail at her for being so pigheaded stupid even though I understood the depth of brokenness that had made her so vulnerable. There's a stunning 'stand up and cheer' moment when Evie finally takes control. I actually shouted 'alleluia' in my euphoria which was rather embarrassing since I was reading on the bus at the time. :-)
As much as Whit seems to have his act together, he's been living in a holding pattern since high school. Wretched with unrequited love, he still can't resist playing the hero and sweeping in to rescue Evie when she needs a friend the most. I could really relate to his struggles to let go and let God. We share the same propensity for holding onto problems instead of giving them over completely.
Whit and Evie forge a tenuous friendship, fraught with friction and regrets. It takes the combined efforts of the Valentine Volunteers to set things to rights. They provide some light-hearted moments that balance all the angst. A wonderful blend of drama and humour and deep threads of faith. The kind of read that leaves you rejoicing long after you've read the final page.
If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of Change of Heart please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday May 8 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!