“All the Pleasures of the Season”

This was a quick read.  Lady Miranda Archer has had her debut season.  She is trying to do what is right for her family and live up to their expectations.   Her family is no stranger to scandal and she just wanted to be the normal child.  So she picks a man who has been pursuing her all season that by all appearances would be a good match.  Her sister has been pushing for him and her family approves…except her brother.

However, there’s a problem.  Miranda doesn’t really like him.  She doesn’t know him all that well, and there’s just something about him that strikes her as “off”.  She would prefer to be marrying Gilbert, who is a second son and destined for the armed forces.  The problem is that she doesn’t think anyone in her family would support that match.

Miranda begins to understand what marriage to her selected fiance would mean and tries to get out of it.

There’s not a whole lot of depth to the characters, but I would be interested in reading more from this author.  I enjoyed the book and it was a great little read during all of the holiday chaos.

I was provided with this book from Edelweiss.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

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“The Shadow of Your Smile” and How Important Are Your Memories?

I have read some of Susan May Warren’s books before and liked them.  “The Shadow of Your Smile” is one of her Deep Haven novels, which luckily for me, can be read independently and still understand the stories.  Noelle and Eli have been married for 25 years.  They had 3 children, one of whom died in a robbery 3 years prior to this book taking place.  Ever since then, their marriage has struggled…as Noelle buried herself in grief, Eli buried himself in fishing, hunting, anything to take him away from their house.

On a wintery day, Noelle is on her way home from a mysterious meeting.  She stops at a shop for a coffee and while she is there, interrupts a robbery where the cashier dies.  As she is running out the door to catch a passing trucker, she falls, hits her head, and is knocked unconscious.  When she comes to in the hospital, she has lost 25 years of her life.  She doesn’t recognize Eli, her sons, her best friend, her home.

What ensues is a journey for Noelle and Eli.  A journey back to why they got married in the first place.  A journey to work through their grief of losing their daughter…this time as a family.  A journey to re-discover what is important to them and what they each may have given up as they moved through life together.

A question (in various forms) appears throughout the book – “Should Noelle get her memory back?”  Does Noelle need to regain all 25 years of memories in order to move forward with her life?  Does Eli want Noelle to regain those memories?  If those memories return, what happens to the relationship they have built since she lost them?

How important are memories as you go through life?

I received this book through the NetGalley system.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

“A Marriage Carol” Made Me Think About What Could Be…

I just finished A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry and Gary Chapman.  It was an extremely quick read, but one that pulled me in.  It’s the story of Marlee and Jacob who are traveling through a snow storm to their attorney’s office on Christmas Eve to sign their divorce papers.

It’s a bittersweet journey.  They were married on Christmas Eve a 20 years ago, and there was a snow storm that night as well.  Even though they are on their way to end their marriage, they are both thinking of that night 20 years ago.  The reader is able to see into the current state of their marriage, from Marlee’s point of view.

They are run off the road by a semi and they land in the snow in the ditch.  Marlee can’t find Jacob, so she goes for help.   Eventually she comes up to a house which is owned by an elderly couple.  We are told that his name is Jay and his wife is not well.  He invites Marlee in, gets her warm, and lets her talk.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but I really enjoyed this story.  I think that the play off A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a useful plot device.  I liked how real the characters seemed.  For me, it provides me a tool for when I am feeling frustrated; I can ask myself “What would happen if I make Decision A over Decision B?” or “What would happen if I allow the situation to fester?”

I would definitely recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via the NetGalley system.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Communication – What’s Really Being Said?

I have been looking at a lot of things lately.  One of them is the blog written by Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs of Love and Respect.  They had a post recently called “What’s the Alternative to Love and Respect?” (http://emersonandsarah.blogspot.com/2011/08/whats-alternative-to-love-and-respect.html) that struck home for me.   I haven’t read their book yet (it’s on my list once I get through some others), so I don’t know the whole story of how their ministry started and how they reached the truths that they speak about. But I thought this topic was important.

In their post, they talk about how spouses need to speak with love and respect to each other and how even the simplest solutions sometimes can solve many problems.  Too often, I think that when a couple is stressed with their partner, they don’t look beyond the surface issues.  The example in the Eggerichs’ post is a couple sitting down to do their monthly budget, and thinking that if they solve their financial problems, it will take care of everything else.   They say to themselves, “If we only had our money issues solved, I would be happier with him/her and our marriage would be back on track.”  To them, that is the simple solution.  They think the relationship will take care of itself.  However, that is not the case.

I’m not an expert and I haven’t had a perfect marriage.  We have gone through our rough times – times I never want to go through again.  When faced with a difficult time, it’s often crossed our minds that if we had enough money, had a different job, had kids, lived closer to family, whatever, all of our problems would be solved.  But then we look deeper.  The problem isn’t that we had money problems or were stressed with our jobs, it was that we weren’t communicating the right way.

Communicating means more than just asking your partner how their day went.  It means listening to what they are saying.  Do you hear the hurt, the disgust, the yearning for someone to truly listen to them?  Often what they are speaking isn’t anything like what they are saying.  Are they telling you the whole story, or are they holding things back because they don’t want to burden/stress/bother you?  Do they think you won’t be interested in what they have to say?

I have found myself on both sides of the coin.  Neither side is fun, especially since it tends to affect my attitude for the next little bit.  If only I took more care in communicating with my spouse, he would understand that I respect and honor him.  Life and relationships are already hard enough in today’s society.  While it’s not easy to always do the right thing, isn’t it the most important thing you can do?