Review: “This Life” by Jennifer Rodewald

Happy almost book birthday to author Jennifer Rodewald for her latest “Murphy Brothers Romance” novel: THIS LIFE! (It releases tomorrow, y’all!) I’m reviewing it here on the blog today. It’s a blend of contemporary women’s fiction and romance 🙂 ; the fourth in a series yet each of them stand alone and focus on a different sibling.

Check out my thoughts on the previous books in the series: Always You | In Spite of Ourselves | Everything Behind Us

About the Book

They’ve been stripped of everything but a refurbished bus and each other. And it might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.

Jacob Murphy always felt like the invisible brother…until he fell in love with and married the woman who dated his younger brother. Then he became the despised brother. Driven to prove himself worthy of respect, he gambled everything on becoming the successful brother, but with his property speculation business falling apart, he’s ready to admit defeat. He’s lost nearly every worldly good he’s acquired, and after years of disappointments and heartache, it looks like his marriage is about to go the same way.

Kate Murphy lied her way out of life in a trailer park—a life she felt both trapped in and ashamed of. Only Jacob knows the truth about her background. But keeping up appearances has slowly strangled her life and relationships, and even her marriage has become strained at best. In desperation, she makes a plan to escape from it all—ironically, in a skoolie. But there’s still a tender place in her heart for the man she married, and in a moment of compassion, she offers to take Jacob with her.

Stripped of pride and pretension and struggling to adjust to their new 160 square-foot mobile lifestyle, Jacob and Kate are forced to confront the deception, hurt, and loneliness that have plagued them both. Will their strained circumstances be the death knell for their marriage, or will they allow humility to usher in the healing they need to rebuild?

This Life is a tender love story of second chances in marriage, of romance and redemption

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

With This Life, author Jennifer Rodewald has tackled another story with married protagonists (shoutout to her novel Finding Evergreen!), and it is well done! The characters’ journey through brokenness toward a place of renewal and hope is relatable and poignant.

Jacob and Kate’s story finally reveals the truth behind a rift hinted at in the previous books — with some classic Murphy family humor and wisdom, of course! As a reader, I’m always drawn into Rodewald’s stories through her emotive style. One of the ways her style compliments the story of Jacob and Kate is through their natural progression of anger, guilt, renewal, forgiveness, and the honesty commitment requires. I was happy seeing how their history and friendship would transition into something fashioned of trials and influenced by faith. I rooted for them in the moments one of them stood up for the other, or shared a moment of pain or contentment.

This story brings the Murphys full circle through a circuitous route of travel and new friendships. (the idea of living in a skoolie reminds me of my childhood RV adventures.) I LOVE Bryce and the Salazars, influential new friends of Jacob and Kate who demonstrate selfless love and grace. They reinforce the thought that happiness is a choice — a fact that Jacob and Kate have to learn on their own, but find even more joy in when they figure out how to navigate life and happiness together.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “In Spite of Ourselves” by Jennifer Rodewald

I’m sharing a review today of a compelling contemporary romance I highly recommend! In Spite of Ourselves is on the short-ish side, so I read it in a couple days. It is the second of Jennifer Rodewald’s “Murphy Brothers” stories, though it reads as a standalone. I also enjoyed the first book, Always You.

About the Book

Who could build a life on such a monumental mistake?

Jackson Murphy: family prankster, class clown… and now, smack in the middle of a Vegas-sized mess. All he’d wanted was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. After failing that goal, he slipped into a deep, sulking valley, only to emerge from it with a much bigger problem. He’s married. To a complete stranger! Forget making a world-class marathon so that his family will believe that (1) he’s capable of being grown up and serious on occasion and (2) he doesn’t need the ongoing pity about his brother and a certain ex-girlfriend.

Now? Now he has no idea what to do.

Mackenzie Murphy: independent woman and excellent student—but not a med student. Because those pesky MCATs were H-A-R-D. She doesn’t particularly mind that much, seeing as she’s never really wanted to be a doctor, but her mother will be…uh, displeased. Exceptionally. That’s nothing, however, compared to how Mother will respond if she finds out what else happened in Vegas.

Mackenzie wants out. Jackson wants a chance. Neither of them is prepared for what’s coming. Caught in the middle of a disaster that keeps getting bigger, they hardly dare ask: Can God take their monumental mistake and turn it into a beautiful life?

In Spite of Ourselves, Book 13 in The Potter’s House Books Series Two, is an uplifting and inspiring story of hope, redemption and second chances. It is also book Two in Jennifer Rodewald’s Murphy Brother Stories (book One is Always You). Grab your copy and be encouraged today. 

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

In Spite of Ourselves is another shining contemporary romance from Jennifer Rodewald! It spins a marriage of convenience trope with a hint of a fake relationship situation to be a sometimes light and humorous, sometimes deep and heart-stirring story of what real love looks like.

One thing I always enjoy about Jen’s stories is her near-conversational tone of writing. With tiny hints for the perceptive reader, this story unfolds to be much more that what it is seen on the surface. When it deepens, and Jackson and Mackenzie’s background and motivations are clearer, it’s like an “aha” moment of understanding the complexity of the “iceburg” underneath.

Both Jackson and Mackenzie begin at a place of brokenness and misconception, but because of their mistakes they have opportunity to extend grace and accept the truth of God’s ability to transform a mess into a masterpiece. The beauty of this story lies in how God can take an imperfect vessel, Jackson, and use him to live out Love in a relationship with Mackenzie.

Amidst the seriousness of this plot, plenty of moments of fun, humor, and family make for joyful moments. I LOVED the times when Jackson was interacting with his brothers — their playful side, and their complex relationships. His whole family is fun! Smoothies and a winter coat have a special role in the story, too, as well as a hilarious “questionable” spare bedroom at Jackson’s parents’ house, the iconic Bob Ross, and an “I Love Lucy” reference that had me LOL-ing.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.