Paper Hearts – Courtney Walsh – Tyndale House Publishers – Published 18 December 2014
Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark.
When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice.
As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?
Abigail is the owner of the Book Nook, a bookstore in the quaint town of Loves Park. The bookstore is Abigail’s way of holding on to her father, who left their family when Abigail was young, and expanding the store into the now-vacant mercantile next door might be the best way for Abigail to finally prove herself. But before she is approved for a loan the whole building is sold to a handsome newcomer who is determined to use the space, Abigail’s shop included, to set up his new medical practice. And so war begins.
The people around Abigail, including her mother, townsfolk and the Valentine Volunteers, set out to make things right for Abigail – maybe just not in the way she expects. Everyone seems determined to prove that without a husband, Abigail is nothing. The great-granddaughter of the town’s founders, Abigail struggles with the town’s ever-present focus on love and romance when all she wants is to forget love exists and be a successful businesswoman. Abigail’s strength and self-esteem, while fairly low, is surprising resilient given the way everyone treats her and her dreams. Abigail herself is undecided about her future – one moment determined to fight the new doctor every step of the way and the next ready to move on and make nice, and back and forth.
Jacob, the new doctor, wants to start over and make a new life for himself and his daughter, but also regrets forcing Abigail out of her business, while his growing attraction to her competes with his past. The plot had a lot of promise and the writing style creates a vivid small-town setting. The romance develops slowly but is sweet once the main characters gradually begin to work together. Unfortunately, I cannot say that I truly liked any of the characters, nor the way they treated each other, or some of the story’s underlying themes. The characters’ faith is a faint undercurrent to the plot, which I felt could have been expanded on or interwoven further. I would recommend Paper Hearts to fans of light contemporary romance.
Category: Adult fiction.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Romance and love. Small town. Matchmaking. Grief and loss. Self-esteem.
Published: 18 December 2014 by Tyndale House Publishers
Available formats: Paperback, eBook. 416 pages.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.