Today is my stop on the Singing Librarian Books Tour for a recent release from Ruth Logan Herne, a new-to-me-author. Her new novel, More Than a Promise, can be classed as a realistic contemporary drama/romance about finding happiness in chaos, the hope in family, and long-sought healing through faith. Read on for my review, 10 awesome behind-the-scenes facts, and a giveaway!
Publisher: Franciscan Media
Publication date: February 23, 2016
Number of pages: 292
“My Three Sons”… Naughty sons, at that!… meets “Sarah, Plain and Tall” in this delightful marriage of convenience story that shows how amazingly inconvenient love… and life… can be!
Widower Matt Wilmot is in trouble. His boys are causing chaos and wreaking havoc, his former mother-in-law is threatening to sue for custody, his father just had heart surgery and their family company is liable for a huge balloon payment on a loan his father took out to expand the business the previous year. But rain and illness took their toll, and Matt is having a rough time spinning multiple plates in the air.
But when he discovers Elle Drake next door, a woman with a wonderful hand at managing errant boys, cranky relatives, and frustrated men… Matt’s world suddenly tips back into a more normal orbit. And when drastic measures are required, it’s the girl next door who’s there to save the day.
Elle Drake wanted nothing more than to create beautiful pottery and have a family, but when her millionaire husband publicly dumped the renowned artist for another woman, Elle moves back to Cedar Mills to start anew, the spinster artist with her big potting shed. But when her to-die-for good-looking neighbor thinks marriage is a good idea, Elle figures he’s either crazy, desperate or right.
But a marriage of convenience can become its own conundrum, and when life takes sudden turns, can this marriage become all that they bargained for? And maybe more than a promise?
First, let me just address the Wilmot children! They are a hoot. Ruth fabulously captures their vibrant – and contrasting – personalities. My favorite parts of this dynamic were the moments of sheer honesty from the kids, especially Randy, the notorious middle child and instigator. In his case, bluntness resulted in some hilarious and insightful conversations!
Elle and Matt, and the problems they face, and very relatable. Learning to trust God with full control over your life, for instance, is a daily surrender of yourself to His will and purpose. I was rooting for Elle as she learned to open herself up to love and realize a long-lost dream. And, I was rooting for Matt as he dealt with lingering grief, learned to share his burdens, and found joy again. By the end, I was elated with their journey I felt like I witnessed as a part of their crazy famly.
From the very beginning, this story drew me in with a combination of humor and heart. The realness of the characters, their resounding struggles and possibility of finding happiness and healing, were beautifully blended. If such heartfelt stories are the norm from Ruth, as I’ve heard, I’m eager to read more by her pen!
While you’re here, be sure to enter tie GIVEAWAY for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of More Than a Promise!
Special thanks to Singing Librarian Books for a review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
10 Facts from Ruth!
1. I have friends in the excavating business, and a comment they made once a long time ago, about how some folks figure they’ve got plenty of money, and put off paying them… so that became the reasoning behind the financial difficulties that raised up to trip up the company
2. Somewhere there are three boys who were the original three little boys who came into church SO RELUCTANTLY about six years ago, and inspired this book… and I hope they’re all well and happy!
3. The Polish aspects of Elle’s family were inspired by a wonderful wedding reception I attended years ago, where the ladies of St. Stanislaus’s Church did a Thanksgiving dinner, pass the plate at each table kind of meal, and it was marvelous! Wonderful turkey and stuffing, puddles of gravy and delicious cranberry sauce and homemade pickles. I love church dinners!
4. And at that same wedding, I made the wedding cake, drove it hours to the reception and a layer CRACKED…. Luckily I had made an extra layer (just in case!) and I took the broken layer out, slipped the extra layer in, frosted, decorated and used real red roses to give a “cascade” effect, and NO ONE KNEW A THING!!!!! Yes!
5. The three boys were actually based on two brothers and a sister I’ve had in daycare/after school care for years… Amos is based on Casey, when she was little, and my readers see Casey on my facebook page, on my blog, and in Yankee Belle Café because she’s my “mother’s helper” now and helps on the farm in the summer. And she’s ALMOST DONE WITH HIGH SCHOOL so you can see that life has moved on since I wrote “More Than a Promise”, LOL!
6. Sarah, Plain and Tall is one of my favorite children’s stories, and I used that premise to write an adult version in “More Than a Promise”. If you’ve never read “Sarah, Plain and Tall”, you should… it’s just a wonderful marriage of convenience story set in the early 1900’s. I love it!
7. I love heroes that work with their hands… and guys with big equipment are as happy as little boys with Tonka Trucks until they break! And then they are GRUMPY. If you’re wondering about farmers, insert “tractor” for “backloader” or “grader” and you get the same result! And don’t talk to these men about weather!!!!! EEEK!
8. I love the church setting in Cedar Mills. The fun of older Catholic churches is how the church may reflect the ethnicity of the immigrants who came here with nothing, but pooled together to explore and expand their right to practice their faith freely. Neighborhoods were often defined by these beautiful churches and the congregations that flocked there weekly and daily.
9. I’m always amazed at how pockets of art can bring mass appeal. I wanted Elle’s work to be that way, based on a Thomas Kincade-type fame. Her longing and love came through her work and appealed to the masses, the “you and me” types. But there’s a downside to some of that because “true artistes” often find fault with commercial art, and abandon their friendships. Is it jealousy? Or disregard?
10. And finally… The spray-painted dog is a real thing. It happened a long time ago, and it wasn’t one of my kids (although it could have been!) and it took a long time for that dog’s fur to grow out. But… it did. Eventually!
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