Three years after a tragic accident left her a widow, ER nurse Taylor Cabot is determined to move on, checking off one item after another on her survival list. Her relationship with a handsome plastic surgeon even gives her hope for the last point—“fall in love again.” At least until crisis chaplain Seth Donovan steps back into her life, reawakening unanswered questions about her husband’s death.
While in San Diego to train community volunteers, Seth hopes to learn why Taylor is backing away from the crisis team and from their friendship. But nothing prepares him for the feelings that arise when he sees Taylor again . . . and sees her moving on with another man.
When a community crisis hits home and puts lives at risk, emotions run high and buried truths are unearthed. Will hope make the survival list?
~ Excerpt ~
“I…” Fatigue was tearing at her defences as recklessly as that plane slicing through a thousand fanciful kites. “I sort of made a Survival List.” Taylor shook her head. “No. Not sort of. It’s formatted with bullet points, check boxes, and a due date.”
“No. Mine.” Taylor waited for the familiar sense of accomplishment, but it eluded her. “I gave myself three years to pull my life together. I’ve been getting it done. The move to San Diego, my job in ER, finding a good vet for Hooper.” Taylor prodded a mini marshmallow with her fingertip. “Ditching the junk food and getting into shape.”
Seth regarded her fitness bracelet. “Counting your steps.”
She thought of the last item on that list: Fall in love again. It had been a foolish thought in the first place and now, though she’d been kissed by two men in twenty-four hours, it only seemed more impossible. Clearly, after Greg, she had no clue about—
“I don’t know…” Seth said, his brows drawing together. “And granted, this is coming from a guy who still scribbles notes with pencil and paper, but I don’t need to keep track like that. I run until I’m tired or until this bum knee reminds me I’m no superman. I guess I’ve dealt with grief that same way too.” Despite his offhand shrug, there was certainty in his expression. “After Camille, my heart felt like so much ground meat, and there wasn’t any way around it. I prayed and I hurt. I hurt and I prayed.”
Taylor’s throat tightened.
“I met with a grief-sharing group for a while too—it helped a lot. I finally learned to accept that my healing, my new relationships . . . and my future would move forward according to God’s timing, not mine,” Seth continued. “Not to say I’m not an active participant. There’s personal responsibility, absolutely. But from what I’ve seen, if we get caught up in planning our lives meticulously, point by point, it’s like control becomes our god. We reach for control, when what we really want . . . is peace.” He looked down at his hot chocolate for a moment, then met her gaze again. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not worried about counting the steps. If I’m going in the right direction, if I’m on the right path, I’ll feel that certainty in my soul.
~ My Review ~
This book– Wow! I was not expecting to be so thoroughly taken with this story. If you have contemporary romances pegged as ‘light fiction’ (a label that is not wholly unwarranted) you will want to make an exception for this book. It is well-written, authentic, and provided a breadth and depth of emotional experience that is rare in this genre.
To be honest, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to do justice to this book without gushing. It may not be on the same plane as Tolkien or Dickens in a literary sense, but on an emotional level it totally captured me. Calvert writes in such a way that you are not just there with the character, you actually become the character. Seth and Taylor’s deepening friendship is beautifully portrayed and warmed me from the inside out, and I was frequently struck by just how real her characters’ conversations, experiences, and interactions were.
Candace Calvert also knows just what to bring to a story in order to touch the deepest emotional chords, and Taylor’s ailing dog, Hooper—her one remaining link to Greg—was a particularly effective inclusion in the story. There are two other secondary characters whom I hope we will hear more from in the next book in this series: Sloane Wilder, a fellow nurse whose disenchantment with life sours the very air she breathes, and Kasie Beckett, a young medical technician who feels she is called to the crisis team but is having a difficult time helping her fiancé understand this.
Sloane, in particular, was well drawn. She is a complex character, more often repellent than not, and yet there were glimpses of the broken person underneath that made my heart ache for her, particularly in the latter part of the novel. Sloane’s choices have far-reaching consequences for both Taylor and Kasie, and yet Taylor’s ultimate response is a beautiful example of Christ’s love working in the midst of painful circumstances.
Friendship, love, anger, betrayal, bereavement, compassion, peace; I felt every one of these emotions to the core at some point in the novel, and finished the book feeling wonderfully sated. I will eagerly be awaiting the next installment in this series.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review.
Release Date: 1 February 2016
Publisher: Tyndale House