With her gathering basket in hand, Elly stepped onto the porch, looking forward to reaching under the warm hens and listening to their noisy gossip.
A fat snowball hit her square in the forehead.
Stunned, she dropped the egg basket, mentally sputtering. Of all the . . .
Her eyes easily located the culprit. Bo stood in the middle of the road, Willow at his side, grinning like a mule eating green grass.
Calmly kicking the basket aside and stepping off the porch, she reached into a drift to scoop up a mitten of wet snow and packed the wad tightly. She straightened to gauge the distance to her target.
Bo’s grin widened as he bent to gather ammunition for his next salvo. Elly hurriedly mounded snow for a barrier. As they both prepared for battle, perfect calm settled on the snow and stirred the trees. Lazy white clouds crisscrossed overhead. The serene moment drew out and then curdled to crackling anticipation.
Snow balls flew, slamming into heads, shoulders, turned backs. Elly’s squeals overrode Willow’s as the battle intensified. She would not be beaten. A snowball smacked her cheek and tears sprang to her eyes.
As suddenly as the attack started, innocent fun turned to resentment. Resentment intensified into white-hot anger. Frozen balls flew through the air as fast as they formed. Bo staggered beneath the relentless assault. How could this man have destroyed a love that had been so perfect? How dare he!
Elly hurled the ammunition one after another until Bo curled into a ball in the middle of the road, arms over his head, fending off the attack. The harder she threw the more her tantrum built into an unrelenting charge.
Finally, exhaustion overcame Elly. Sweat dotted her lip. She struggled for breath. She slipped to the ground, covered her face, and released the tears.
Bo Garrett is counting down the years, months, weeks, and days until he turns seventeen. Because that’s the day Elly Sullivan will become Elly Garrett. But by the time he turns seventeen he’s made a small amendment to the plan: He wants to seek a little adventure and see something of the world before he settles down to start a family. He plans to be gone two, possibly three months at the most…
Seven years later, Elly has all but given up ever hearing from Bo again. She is courting Gideon Long, a good man who adores her and is waiting patiently for her to set a wedding date, when Bo unexpectedly returns to Berrytop. He is now older and wiser for his experiences; a preacher, dedicated to serving God with his life. But he knows there are some things a woman should never have to forgive and he’s ashamed to say he’s done them all. He can’t change the past. All he can do is ask for Elly’s forgiveness, and hope that they can at least be friends.
Bo’s genuine humility drains Elly’s resentment, but it’s clear she can no longer marry him. Not when he so easily fell into living an immoral life. But maybe now that she has definite closure with Bo she can set a date for her wedding with Gideon, and focus on loving him the way she once loved Bo.
What can I say? I think I have a book-crush. Bo Garrett is one genuinely nice guy. Granted, I wasn’t the one who spent seven years feeling forgotten and betrayed, but if the misspent years turned him into the man portrayed in this book, then God certainly used Bo’s poor choices for his benefit. Despite his shame, he didn’t get mired in self-pity over the consequences of his choices. Unlike so many other characters I have read, he didn’t deny himself because of a misguided sense of unworthiness. He simply waited and trusted that in God’s time he would be given the desire of his heart.
In many ways this is really Elly’s story (we don’t get Bo’s viewpoint very often), and at the core of her journey is her understanding of the nature of God. There is a big contrast between the ‘fire and brimstone’ God that Reverend Richardson preaches from the pulpit each Sunday, and Bo’s experience with the grace and forgiveness of God. Although Elly says that she forgives Bo early on in the novel (and I appreciated that the author didn’t drag out the animosity for the sake of conflict), it still takes Elly time to understand the full reality of God and forgiveness and I thought this was well done.
I also appreciated that there was a very natural progression to the renewal of Elly and Bo’s friendship. The author didn’t manufacture dramatic situations in order to throw Elly and Bo together (although there was some humour in Gideon’s heartfelt, if somewhat unromantic demonstrations of his love for Elly). There were a few times where I was bracing myself for a clichéd moment or plot development, and yet each time the author resisted the temptation. It was quite refreshing!
I do have to confess I wasn’t 100% convinced about the way things resolved between Elly and Gideon. Without giving too much away it seemed a little out of character. There were also times where I felt I lost the thread of a conversation, or the dialogue was a little stilted because the character’s thoughts kept interrupting to explain or add to the conversation, but generally this was a well written book that was a pleasure to read.
Thank you to Harvest House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in return for my honest review.
Length: 224 pages
Release Date: 1 March 2016
Publisher: Harvest House
Author’s website: http://www.loricopeland.com/