Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: LOVE LIFTED ME by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

Country music superstar Sara Evans has once again teamed up with award-winning inspirational fiction author Rachel Hauck for the final installment of their Songbird series. Introducing a few new characters into the cast of well-crafted familiars, Love Lifted Me moves the troubled Benson family into a new setting that tests their faith and resolve.


Jade Benson's life looks pretty good from the outside. Her vintage clothing store is about to be featured in a magazine, she lives in the beautiful home of her dreams, and she finally has a child to hold in her arms. But not all is what it seems. Her husband, Max, is addicted to prescription drugs and has been away for months at a residential rehab in Texas. The little boy Jade is raising is not her biological son, but the result of a one-night stand Max indulged in right before their wedding, and Jade's own past is littered with pain. Theirs is not a fairy tale romance.

Max has now completed the rehab program and is ready to come home and resume his life, but Jade isn't sure what to expect. She wants her marriage to survive, but trust is something that must be earned – and love, once damaged, must be proved true before she can let herself believe in it again.

When Max receives an unexpected offer to take over a troubled football program at a Texas high school, Jade is torn. She doesn't want to abandon the Tennessee town she has grown to love, nor the business she has fought to build, but she knows she must surrender her heart to God – and eventually to her husband – if her little family is going to survive. Texas – and football – might be the fresh start Jade and Max need to fall in love again.


The story is told from alternating points of view of Max and Jade, allowing the reader to empathize with both characters' struggles, failings and fears. Hauck and Evans don't pussy-foot around issues of relational dysfunction and pain, nor do they pour glitter over the results of their characters' past mistakes. Instead, the authors get into the head and heart of betrayal and shame to carve out a timid path toward forgiveness. The result is a touching and emotive love story that sizzles with passion even while the characters remain believably gun-shy about fully giving their hearts – whether it be to each other or to a calling.

This story is fine as a stand-alone novel, but readers will have a much better appreciation for the rutted road that split Max and Jade apart if they read the preceding Songbird novels (The Sweet By & By and Softly and Tenderly) before diving into this one.


With echoes of Remember the Titans and We Are Marshall resounding throughout the well-written football scenes, Hauck and Evans engage even the most football-illiterate of readers into the relational metaphor of overcoming the past by fighting for a fresh win. Love Lifted Me is a beautiful story of hope tackling betrayal and love manning up to win the game.

(This review originally appeared at USA Today's romance fiction blog, Happy Ever After)

with an interview and, of course,
One lucky winner will win a copy of Love Lifted Me -- autographed by both Rachel Hauck AND country music superstar Sara Evans!

Serena's rating:


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