Rachel Hauck has the ability to pen stories that are both sweet and gritty, dealing with real life in a way that illuminates the thread of the Divine in all of our lives. Her latest novel, The Wedding Chapel, is one such example. Read on for my review.
*click here to see my review of Rachel’s previous novel, How to Catch a Prince*
About the book: An old, forgotten chapel holds the key to love and forgiveness.
Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—building a wedding chapel for Collette Greer, the woman he fell in love with in 1949. But now a realtor wants the land the chapel sits on, and he sees no reason to hang onto the past.
Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s string of failed marriages. When she falls head-over-heels for Jack Gillingham, a top ad man, their whirlwind romance and elopement leave her with doubts. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to find the right way to show her he really cares.
When a post-mortem letter from Taylor’s Granny Peg shows up, along with an old photo, she is driven to uncover family secrets and the secret to her own happiness, starting with an assignment to photograph an unknown, obscure wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend.
Taylor begins a mission to convince Jimmy that the chapel is worth saving—and that forgiveness and healing might happen within the chapel’s walls . . . for both of them.
My thoughts: With subtlety and beauty, this story paints a picture of how God requires our surrender, to be wholly dependent on Him, in order to bless us. Jack’s transformation stood out to me the most, possibly because his backstory was unfortunate and tough to overcome. I was rooting for him to embrace his path.
Just so you know, I’m not typically a fan of a book with as many as 4 main characters (with corresponding viewpoints), but Rachel’s skills make the story cohesive, even with occasional flashbacks to Colette and Jimmy’s early relationship. It follows these characters as all 4 experience a drastic shift in perspective, learn lessons of personal worth, and realize how much family matters.
I appreciated how Rachel timed flashbacks in this story to explain how the characters’ past shaped their current life, and how their choices had a lasting impact. I think Rachel did wonderfully in choosing which moments to flash back to and which to just explain in passing. The subtle hint of suspense regarding a certain secret one of the characters held on to was well staged, too.
This is a poignant story of love, faith, second chances, and recognizing the blessings in front of you. I am glad this title will find a place on my shelf because it is one of those I think will reveal deeper emotions and lessons with every re-read!
Thank you to Rachel Hauck for the opportunity to be a part of her “tribe”, Zondervan, & NetGalley for the review copies.