Review: “If For Any Reason” by Courtney Walsh

I’m sharing a review today of a book by one of my favorite must-read authors! This time, Courtney Walsh is kicking off her Nantucket Love Story series with If For Any Reason, a contemporary romance with slight threads of what I consider “women’s fiction”, exploring deep themes of belonging alongside a charming love story.

About the Book

Emily Ackerman has traveled the world, her constant compass and companion a book of letters her mother left for her when she died. With no father in the picture, her mom’s advice has been her only true north. But when professional failure leads Emily back to Nantucket to renovate and sell the family cottage she inherited, she wonders if her mom left advice to cover this . . . especially when her grandmother arrives to “supervise.” And especially when her heart becomes entangled with Hollis McGuire, the boy next door-turned-baseball star who’s back on the island after a career-ending injury.

As sparks fly between her and Hollis, Emily is drawn to island life, even as she uncovers shocking secrets about the tragic accident that led to her mother’s death. With her world turned upside down, Emily must choose between allowing the voices from her past to guide her future or forging her own path forward.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

If For Any Reason is a story of belonging and changing dreams told through a romance and friendship in the ideal setting of Nantucket. Themes of grace and honesty permeate the world Emily and Hollis find themselves in — literally and figuratively. As they deal with some hard things life has thrown at them, they must find the grace to work out their faith and relationship with God while a tentative connection grows between them.

Courtney Walsh excels at writing stories that blend one part women’s fiction with two parts romance and charm! She manages to include deep themes with endearing characters that stir empathy and thought in the heart of a reader. This story is another prime example, with the spark-laden friendship between Emily and Hollis developing naturally. And, Courtney takes a delicate situation and portrays it with compassion and grace, yet still depicts it appropriately with its consequences and fallout.

The romance between Hollis and Emily feels so realistic. They are simply captivated by each other, but it’s not a superficial connection — both characters are mature, both are intentional in their friendship, even if it scares them to be so vulnerable. I especially like one of the decisions Hollis makes (insert heart eyes HERE) at a moment when Emily needs space for clarity.

This review would not be complete without a paragraph devoted to Hollis’s daugther, Jolie, AKA JoJo. This girl steals every scene she’s in! She has so much spunk and acts exactly her age. I liked that she has a voice and an opinion that matters to the adults around her. It’s great to see a bright character like her add such pivotal value to a story.

One more thing I really enjoyed about this story was its inclusion of letters and a few short flashback scenes. These fill in some blanks of the deeper themes and relate things like grief, family, and the resounding impact of choices in a wonderful story device.

I’m looking forward to more stories in this series set on Nantucket, a place I have just added to my must-visit travel list!

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “The Light Before Day” by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Happy Saturday! I’m featuring a review for a novel I read earlier this year” The Light Before Day by Suzanne Woods Fisher. While it is the third in a series, it read like a standalone — I didn’t feel like I was “missing” key information about any of the characters.

About the Book

After three years on a whaling voyage, Henry Macy returns to Nantucket to news that his grandmother has passed, bequeathing her vast fortune to him and his sister, Hitty. And it was truly vast. But Lillian Coffin was no fool. The inheritance comes with a steep cost, including when they should marry and whom–a Quaker in good standing, of course. But if they relinquish the inheritance, it all goes to Tristram Macy, their father’s thieving business partner

As Hitty and Henry seek a way to satisfy the will’s conditions, they’ll be faced with obstacles on every side–and it may be that Lillian Coffin will have the last word after all.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher surprises and delights with this story of hope and renewal, love and redemption, arriving just when most needed. 

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

A new to me era/setting combo! I don’t think I’ve ever read about Nantucket, or a novel featuring the early settlers and Quakers of that region. That part was fascinating and a unique look at the history of that time, especially some of the social concerns and segregation divides prior to the Civil War. It has a unique storytelling perspective with a brother and sister’s point of view. I can’t recall a historical I’ve read with such a POV (contemporaries yes). I liked how their individual personalities were portrayed and how you see the influence of the same upbringing yet separate uniqueness coming out of it. I was entertained and intrigued by the possibilities within the story for each sibling’s love interest(s). I had predicted one thing near the beginning, but it turned out to be opposite in the end! I liked that surprise.

Things I didn’t like as much: abrupt ending. I thought a few things could’ve been wrapped up more neatly and one or two relationships could have been shown with a little more detail and resolve. I would have felt better about the HEA. And, I was slightly annoyed with the use of Thee as a pronoun. I know, I know, the people of the day spoke like that. But I am not used to hearing it and it seemed used overmuch.

I appreciated the perspective from ancestral journal entries (based on an actual historical figure) that alluded to themes in the current events and shed light on early settlement of Nantucket in the 16-1700s.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.