When You Look At Me (Pepper Basham) – Review

When You Look At Me banner

~ About the Book ~

An unexpected mother-to-be
A romance-leery composer
And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Series:  #2 Pleasant Gap Romance
Release date:  25 October 2018
Pages:  299
Publisher:  Independent

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  Goodreads

~ Excerpt ~

Henry Wright stared in wide-eyed wonder at the petite woman. Yes, purple icing pasted to parts of his face. Yes, she’d pulled him into the strange kitchen of a bakery and he hadn’t refused. Yes, she’d touched him more times in five minutes than he’d been touched in five years. His hands, his face, his hair.
And—most likely due to shock—he hadn’t attempted to escape into a people-less room.
She’d apologized profusely and smeared more icing over his face while attempting to clear it, yammering in the most adorable way and oblivious to the glob of purple seated crookedly atop her golden head. And, most startling of all, she’d made him laugh! The entire scene created the strangest scenario—almost dream-like. He could practically hear the strains of Robert Schumann’s whimsical tune Fantasie backdropping the situation.
The woman fluttered here and there like a beautiful butterfly, a capriccioso melody, attempting to reconcile the accident while navigating her extended abdomen and apparently his response about being English. And her eyes, a captivating twilight shade ringed with a lighter hue of blue, pleaded for his forgiveness while her gentleness and the need to assuage her guilt propelled him out of his introverted shell and directly into…talking. “It does taste delicious.”
What? He was an utter buffoon. No wonder he kept his words few in the presence of most people.
“I can’t believe I did this.” She groaned then slammed her palm down onto top of her head only to have it land in the icing. A gasp released. She examined her hand then looked at him, her lips opened in an O. The most beautiful blush rose between the purple icing smears on her face. “Um…this isn’t the introduction to the Jenkins family Eisley had in mind, just so you know.”
Despite his internal reprimands, his grin slipped through his control. “I’ve heard introductions to the Jenkins family can be quite memorable.”
Her lips twitched up on one side then laughter tumbled forth. The musical sound fit her perfectly, icing and all. He couldn’t help but join in, his own bass blending into her lighter trill.
“Oh my goodness. I suppose it would be a disappointment to have anything less.” She shook her head and wiped her hand on the cloth she held, her eyes brimming with barely controlled mirth. She held a lovely glow about her, very fairy-like to his mind.
Her gaze dropped to his lips.
A sudden awareness rushed into his face with unexpected heat, drying out his throat and stealing his smile. Why was she looking at his lips?
“Um…you have purple icing coming out of your nose.”
His eyes shot wide. Of course she wasn’t looking at his lips. Idiot.

~ Review ~

What do you get when you put two introverted musicians together amidst a family of gregarious, love-out-loud Appalachians? Well, in the hands of Pepper Basham, a tender romance that will warm you from the inside out and provide some laughs along the way. Perhaps I’m a little biased, being a musician who’s married to a musician/composer myself, but Henry and Julia’s romance hit a lot of sweet spots for me. I loved the gentle way their friendship unfolded, I loved the way they connected over their love of music and their mutual understanding of what it was like to be ‘peopled-out’, and I loved the way the author’s passion for the Blue Ridge Mountains’ countryside and culture drew me into the setting.

Adding to the piquancy is Julia’s backstory: She’s pregnant as the result of a date rape, but she’s working through the emotional scars with the support of a loving family and her strong faith in God. Julia’s quiet strength was so refreshing in a heroine recovering from that kind of trauma, and Henry was the perfect hero to come alongside and help her in that journey.

On the less serious side of the scales, the irrepressible Jenkins patriarch, Nate, adds a dash of salt and a whole lot of laughs as he tries to come to terms with yet another British fancy pants stealing the heart of one of his daughters. And I found the gradual unfolding of Julia’s aunt’s secret past as captivating as any other part of this story.

In short, if you’re after a heart-warming romance with a little bit of everything else sprinkled in (including cupcakes!), then this is the book for you.

DISCLOSURE: The author used my editing services for this novel, however this review is my honest opinion.

~ Previous Books in the Series ~

~ About the Author ~

pepper basham

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes historical and contemporary romance novels with grace, humor, and culture clashes. She’s a Blue Ridge Mountain native and an anglophile who enjoys combining her two loves to create memorable stories of hope. Pepper is also a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family.

Connect with Pepper:  
Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Pinterest  //  Instagram

About Fiction Aficionado

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

2 Responses to When You Look At Me (Pepper Basham) – Review

  1. pepperbasham says:

    Katie!!! I love your review and am so glad you chose this excerpt! What a fun ‘introduction’ to this story 🙂 THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your love for me and this story 🙂


  2. Winnie Thomas says:

    Lovely review, Katie! I love Pepper’s books, and I’ve got this one at the top of my TBR list! I’ve had some things come up that have put me a bit behind in my reading, but this book is taunting me from its spot in my pile (well, on my Kindle)!

    Liked by 1 person

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