This Time Around – Denise Hunter, Melissa Ferguson and Kathleen Fuller – Thomas Nelson – Published 13 July 2021
Three romance novellas. A Summer Detour by Denise Hunter, Pining for You by Melissa Ferguson and He Love Me; Me Loves Me Not by Kathleen Fuller.
This Time Around is a collection of three novellas that feature second chance romances. From best friends to old flames, Denise Hunter, Melissa Ferguson and Kathleen Fuller give their characters a second shot at love. Notes, despite the Christian publisher and authors, these novellas do not reference faith, God or Christianity.
A Summer Detour is the first and my favourite in the collection. Probably not surprising as it’s by Denise Hunter and I love her writing style. In A Summer Detour Allie begs her family for a chance to prove herself and is tasked with driving her grandparents’ beloved restored Chevy to their anniversary party. The only problem is that she can’t drive manual. Luke Fletcher is the only one she can think of who might be able to help – her parents’ neighbour and the man who broke her heart years ago. She’s kept her distance since then but hours in the car, a hail storm, detour, dog with digestion problems and other mishaps later, maybe she and Luke can sort through the hurt and find a way to a future together. This novella is light and funny, yet I really felt for the way Allie believes her parents don’t trust her or see her as capable. Luke has always seen Allie’s worth and this road trip is the perfect opportunity for him to redeem himself in Allie’s eyes and prove he’ll always be there for her.
Pining for You by Melissa Ferguson is the second book the in collection and another novella I really enjoyed. Again, mishaps and humour bring our two characters together. Skye has returned home to the farm her parents work at, appalled by the conditions they are living in and the low salary her father receives. The man to blame is her childhood best friend, farm owner and once boyfriend, Theo Watkins. Theo has always been better suited to the boardroom than outdoors, but when Skye’s father is injured, he rushes to the farm and is shocked to find that Skye has returned home. Theo and Skye share so much history. Working together (well, Skye works and Theo freaks out about snakes, spiders, bears and other things that might get him), Theo knows this is his chance to prove to Skye the mistakes are in the past and he is the man for her, but Skye is scared history will repeat itself and she’ll be left hurt. The history Theo and Skye share shine through this book and make their quick reunion so poignant and it’s so easy to see them fall back together. They are very sweet together and the humour in the book, as well as the deeper topics touched upon make this a very enjoyable novella. It’s also worth noting that Theo is black and it is so utterly refreshing to finally, finally!! have some diverse characters in mainstream Christian fiction.
He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not is the third novella in the collection. Written by Kathleen Fuller, in this story Sophie and Joe (independently) have both decided it’s time for them to start dating. Sophie owns the local florist and is approached by both Joe and handsome Landon. Joe is a coach at the high school and he knows Landon is bad news. Sadly his attempt to ask Sophie out and warn her about Landon seems to backfire and she is left mad at him. It doesn’t take long for him to try again and he wants to prove to Sophie that they would be good together. The timing and backstory of this book fell flat and it was hard to believe these characters had lived in the same town for so long, written each other off and then so suddenly fell in love. We get a marriage within two months!!! After hardly knowing each other!! They only spend one date together. Also, the treatment of bees in this book is horrible. Bees are so important for our world and these characters are so quick to want them dead. Bees should never be killed with pesticide (for so many reasons, not least because their numbers are in decline). Even if they are the Africanised bees and not European honey bees (the characters would have been unable to tell) they should have been removed and not attacked and killed. It’s things like this, that a few minutes of research would have made clear was so wrong, along with a quick and unrealistic romance that made this story my least favourite of the collection.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Adult fiction
Themes: Romance, dating, relationships, second chance love, friendship, farming, florists, family.
Representation: White main characters, one black main character. Black and white side characters. Heterosexual relationships.
Published: 13 July 2021 by Thomas Nelson.
Format: Paperback, ebook, audiobook. 320 pages.