The Man He Never Was (James L. Rubart) – Review


This review is part of TLC Book Tours’ blog tour for The Man He Never Was

5 stars

~ About the Book ~

What if You Woke up One Morning and the Darkest Parts of Yourself Were Gone?

Toren Daniels vanished eight months back, and his wife and kids have moved on—with more than a little relief. Toren was a good man but carried a raging temper that often exploded without warning. So when he shows up on their doorstep out of the blue, they’re shocked to see him alive. But more shocked to see he’s changed. Radically.

His anger is gone. He’s oddly patient. Kind. Fun. The man he always wanted to be. Toren has no clue where he’s been but knows he’s been utterly transformed. He focuses on three things: Finding out where he’s been. Finding out how it happened. And winning back his family.

But then shards of his old self start to rise from deep inside—like the man kicked out of the NFL for his fury—and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life.

In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.

Genre: Christian Fiction/Allegory
Release date:  20 February 2018
Pages:  384
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  iBooks  //  Goodreads  //  Koorong

~ Excerpt ~

“That package is on its way, sir.”
“Not sir. Toren.”
“Yes, sir . . . Toren.” A nervous laugh floated through the phone. “If you don’t mind, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure. Anything.”
“I don’t want to pry—it’s none of my business or anything.”
“No, really, it’s fine.”
“Okay.” Landry hesitated. “Where have you been, Mr. Daniels? I mean, my manager says we’re not supposed to tell anyone you’re here, like TV people or the radio or . . . but a lot of people are curious, you know? And since we’re talking, I just thought I’d ask. I won’t tell anyone, I promise. But if I’m stepping over a line, please just tell me to keep my questions to myself.”
“What? Who’s curious? Tell anyone . . . I have no idea . . .” Toren squeezed his forehead. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m wondering where you’ve been for the past nine months.”
A shiver shot through Toren’s body. “I haven’t been out much if that’s what you mean. But I’ve been here in town. I’ve been working out, going to the gym, doing stuff with my wife and kids, that’s about it. Staying around the house.”
“Oh, I see.”
But by the way Landry said it, his vision wasn’t even close to clear.
“But when they . . . why didn’t you let folks know after they started searching . . . and . . . I mean, it’s just that . . .”
Landry trailed off, and heat shot through Toren’s body.
“Searching for what?”
“For you.”
“What are you talking about, Landry?” Toren paced on the dark brown carpet. “What do you mean searching? Why would anyone be searching for me?”
Landry’s voice sounded puzzled. “You vanished nine months ago. No one has seen you since.”
“What are you talking about? I was at the Seafair Parade three weeks ago and saw a bunch of people. Took a few shots with people who recognized me.”
A deep sigh came through the phone.
“I’m not sure how to say this, Mr. Daniels.”
“Say it.”
“Everyone thought you were dead, sir.”
“Dead?” The heat pushed through Toren’s skin and sweat broke out on his forehead. “Why would anyone—”
“It’s been over nine months since Seafair,” Landry said, his voice soft.
“Nine months. Are you all right, sir?”
“What are you talking—it’s only mid-September.” Toren stopped pacing and stood at the end of the bed.
“No, sir, it’s not.” Landry hesitated. “It’s the middle of May.”

Taken from “The Man He Never Was” by James L. Rubart
Copyright © 2018 by James L. Rubart
Used by permission of

~ Review ~

Wow. The only coherent thought I had when I finished this book was, “I want what he’s having.” I may not have the same anger problem as Toren, but so many of the truths he works through in this story are truths that I still struggle with—and this book drove home just how much I still struggle with them. I feel like this book has opened the door to my own octagonal room (read the story and you’ll understand the reference), and just like Toren, I feel like I’ll need several visits so I can continue to absorb these truths into my heart. It’s one thing to know the truth at an intellectual level, but to feel the truth in your heart and live it out the way Toren must here? Wow.

This book doesn’t just reimagine The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; it answers it. Robert Louis Stevenson presents half of the truth in his story—that it is impossible to bring Hyde under full submission through our own efforts—but he leaves the reader without the truth that there is One who DOES have the power to overcome Hyde. In fact, He has already done so. But in order to claim that victory as our own, we need to die to ourselves. We must overcome the evil with good, with love. Much easier said than done, as Toren discovers.

The real-life aspect of this story is just as compelling. Having believed Toren was dead for nine months, his wife hasn’t just moved on with her life; she’s relieved. She’s heard Toren’s promises of change hundreds of times before, and she’s not prepared to go down that path again, especially since she’s met Levi. Thus, Toren is not just seeking change for his own sake; he needs to defeat Hyde if he wants any chance at being reconciled to his wife and children, and somehow, he needs to prove that the change is real.

I was so intensely invested in this story that I had to put it down for about half an hour at the 80% mark. I wasn’t at all certain how it was going to play out, and I needed to take a fortifying breath, so to speak, just in case. Beyond that, I will simply say: This is gripping, thought-provoking storytelling. Don’t miss it.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

~ About the Author ~

Jim RubartJames L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories.

He’s the best-selling, Christy, Carol, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker. During the day he runs his marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington.

Connect with Jim:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, New Releases and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Man He Never Was (James L. Rubart) – Review

  1. English Lady says:

    Interesting. Is James L. Rubart the son of Stephen Lawhead, or have I got that totally wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bellesmoma16 says:

    Interesting that he’s presumed dead for 9 months, but then comes back. I’m guessing he’s been reborn. Like that metaphor. Sounds like an amazing book. I will have to get it. Great review!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MJSH says:

    I really enjoyed Five Times I Met Myself and I’m sure this book will be very similar in how it affects me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh I like the idea of providing the answers that were missing from the original story! I’ve always enjoyed the original tale and this sounds like a fascinating new look at that story.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    Liked by 1 person

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