Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her—all have proven undependable. But Miska has life under control. She runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago’s lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman.
Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father’s sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can’t help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she’s longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again.
When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes that her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who’s gone too far and done too much.
“Have you waited?”
There. It was out, the question she’d been longing to ask since last night. Miska waited for the answer, hoping to hear yes, hoping to hear no. Hoping . . .
He looked from her to the plate in front of him, to the lasagna with only a couple bites taken.
He hadn’t waited? Really? After everything he’d said? After this whole insane conversation? She stabbed a piece of lettuce. Then another.
“Why do you want to know?” he finally asked.
He sounded beaten. Of course. Because he’d been caught. Fake. Hypocrite. She jammed the fork into her mouth, stabbing her tongue. Liar.
He looked up. “Why, Miska?”
She chewed her food. Glared at him. Swallowed. “Because men don’t wait. Ever. All the boys I knew in high school, my brothers, my father, men my mom dated. Men I’ve dated. They don’t wait. Garrett didn’t -”
He heaved a sigh and looked her in the eye. “I have.”
She stilled in her chair.
He held her gaze, his honesty undeniably clear.
He’d waited? For marriage? Which meant- “You’re a virgin?”
He gave a simple nod.
“Why?” She couldn’t keep quiet. “Dillan, that makes no sense. Why would you do that do yourself?”
“It’s the other way around. Why would I want to go against what God says is right? Against the guidelines he’s put down to protect me?”
“Yes, protection. God doesn’t tell us to wait to yank us around. It’s for our own good.”
She could feel her heart breaking. “You’re almost twenty-nine. And you’ve never . . .”
He nodded again. “I’ve never.”
“How can you wait? How can you deny yourself every day?”
He straightened and looked around the room.
“You’re even embarrassed about -”
“No, I’m not.”
His harshness froze her.
His eyes were dark, his jaw and mouth tight.
“I’m sorry. I’m not making fun. I just . . . I don’t get it. It’s not natural. It’s just not.”
“So you wouldn’t want a man who was a virgin.”
“No.” She folded her arms across her stomach. A man like that would be so clueless, so inexperienced.
“You’d rather have a man who brought risks, who’d proved he didn’t stick around. A man who valued sex more than the woman who gave it to him, who used her and kept her around as long as she made him happy. Forget about what she wants.”
She looked up to find him studying her. For several long seconds, their gazes held.
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “To me, it’s the other way around. Imagine a man coming to you and saying, ‘Hey, I’ve waited for you. All these years I’ve kept myself for you. Kept myself pure for your sake, for us. And now here it is. I give it to you, Miska. And no one else.’ You’re telling me you wouldn’t want that?”
I give it to you, Miska.
A tear slid down her cheek before she could stop it. The image of a man like Dillan—no, Dillan himself—offering such a gift was heartbreakingly wrenching. Because it would never happen. Not to her.
So, why is this a fiction favourite?
This is such a beautiful story of redemption. I first read Kept almost two years ago, and at the time, I was blown away. I had never read a story that showed the process of a heart softening toward Christ quite so vividly, believably, or affectingly. So I recently decided to revisit it for what I hope will become a regular ‘Fiction Favourites’ feature on my blog – because it really is a story that deserves some attention.
My original plan was to simply post the review I wrote on Amazon back then, but after I read the review I found myself wondering: if I was reading this book for the first time today, with goodness knows how many (*cough, cough* hundreds of *cough, cough*) other books under my belt, would I still have the same opinion? So I thought I’d refresh my memory a little bit . . .
Folks, I totally got sucked in. I ended up reading the whole book – all over again. And I was blown away – all over again.
At the opening of the novel, Miska is the kept (paid) mistress of Mark Scheider, a married professional athlete who is yet to fulfil his many promises to divorce his wife so he can be with Miska permanently; in other words, she’s not exactly your run-of-the-mill protagonist for a Christian novel! Dillan Foster, on the other hand, is a pastor with a strong faith in Christ – and a big struggle on his hands as he tries to find a balance between showing Miska both truth and compassion, and all without making himself vulnerable to his own physical and emotional attraction to her.
I’ve read many novels since that tell the story of a person whose life is transformed by Christ, but Miska’s story remains one of the most memorable for me. She goes from actively embracing sin and scorning Dillon’s faith and morals, to the beginnings of brokenness, to hungering for God, and finally to clinging to God as she faces the consequences of her sin and her life unravelling around her – and boy, does it unravel! It was a living, breathing, and often heart wrenching transformation, and Sally Bradley created a wonderful mentor for Miska in Tracy, the fiancée of Dillan’s brother (a secondary character whose heart for reaching out to Miska should be an example to us all).
The characters and dialogue were thoroughly authentic, the subject matter was handled honestly but tastefully, and the book is full of wonderfully meaningful and logical Biblical responses to Miska’s questions and skepticism – some of the best I’ve come across, in fact. And yet, in the midst of all that, there are also some wonderfully light-hearted scenes between Miska and Dillan, often brought about by Dillan’s klutziness or his quiet sense of humour.
If you haven’t discovered Sally Bradley or Kept yet, then I strongly encourage you to do so. It’s one for the ‘keeper’ shelf. (See what I did there?!)
Have you read Kept? Share your thoughts below!
Buy in US: Amazon
Buy in AU: Amazon
Published: 2 October 2014
Publisher: Salena House Publishers
Author’s website: http://sallybradley.com/
Other books in series:
A follow-up romantic suspense novella featuring Dillan’s sister, Jordan, and his friend, Cam Winters.