Years ago I received a review that began with, "Although I dislike and never read this subgenre, I decided to review such and such--" and then went on to trash the story. This time I am happily surprised to find a reviewer willing to try something new!
Thanks to The Romance Reviews for this lovely review! (excerpt)
Inspirational romance as a genre is quite a departure for me, but I was intrigued by the thought of a long-lost love returning to the town—and the woman—he left behind, and the journey both characters would have to make in order to find a future together. I am pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed—in fact, I was actually pleasantly surprised.
Megan Roberts has scrimped and saved ever since her parents' death so she can fulfill her father's last wish and purchase her grandfather's final painting at a local auction. Left without a family, the painting has taken on an enormous significance to Megan, and she is determined to take it home with her, even if it takes every cent of her savings. So when she loses the painting to a higher bidder, it doesn't seem that things can get much worse—until, that is, she sees the man who won.
Michael Kirk has changed in the fifteen years since Megan last saw him, but deep down, she knows he is the same man who she loved with all her heart, and the same man who walked out of her life and never looked back. Knowing that speaking with him again will only end in more heartbreak, Megan takes the risk in order to ask Michael to sell the painting to her. The Michael she remembered would do anything to make her happy.
But the Michael who has returned has different priorities. Concerned primarily with his career, Michael has purchased the painting for his boss, who is an avid collector of Megan's grandfather's work. Desperate to make partner in his law firm, Michael refuses to sell the painting, despite the fact that simply seeing Megan's face brings back memories and emotions that Michael thought himself no longer capable of feeling. With so much hurt and so many misunderstandings between them, can there ever be a future where Megan and Michael can find happiness together? Or will the legacy of her grandfather's artwork drive them apart forever?
There was a kind of literary magic that occurred when Michael and Megan were together. All the fear and the hurt and the worry each character felt individually faded to the background when they spoke and laughed and reminisced. It made the times when they were apart, when the petty jealousies of their hometown were brought to the forefront, that much more frustrating by contrast. But these emotions are what make for good romances, and I found myself eager for Megan's next meeting with Michael, when that spark between them could be seen again.
All in all, this was a charming story of love lost and found, and I was surprised by how much I came to care for the characters and the small town of Carrolton. The depth of feeling in this story made each character memorable, and the plot had a few twists that genuinely surprised me, making for a satisfying conclusion all around. Though I don't consider myself much of an expert in this particular genre, I can say that I will be keeping my eye out for any more of Ms Bayne's books in the future!
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