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Monday, May 18, 2009

Review - Reluctant Hearts by Karen Wiesner

Title: Reluctant Hearts

Author: Karen Wiesner

Publisher: Uncial Press

Coming soon from Uncial Press

Rating: You Need to Read

Reviewed by: MarthaE

What's a man to do when he's seen too much of life's dark side and suddenly finds himself believing in flesh-and-blood angels who can heal with a single touch?
What's a girl to do when she believes in true love but can't trust the eyes of her own heart?
Fall in love...reluctantly?

This was a wonderfully enjoyable and deeply moving story of the complexity of young love. The story follows the emotional growth from innocence to disillusion of Wendy Thomas and from cynicism to acceptance by Paul Randall. It starts with Wendy as an 18 year old high school senior who is a very smart and strong young lady who has been taking care of others around her for years. Wendy is responsibly mature and level headed but much more emotional and vulnerable than she will let anyone see because they are all relying on her strength. She is refreshingly naïve about sex and convinced that it will be worth waiting for the right person to share her love.

For years Wendy has had a crush on Paul, a friend of her older brother, Steve. Paul is a 21 year old “bad” boy. He has been on his own since age 15, never finished school, but has worked hard and established a good position. Paul perceives himself as unlovable and certainly not worthy of a “sugar and spice”, nice girl like Wendy. Wendy believes that deep down Paul is really a good man and she wants to believe that her love can save him from his loneliness. Paul doesn’t want to stand in the way of Wendy’s dreams for college and her future.

The story follows this couple for six years as they try to go their separate ways, joyously come together, and then withdraw due to different fears. She fears betrayal, having seen so much of that around her and he fears the pain if he were to ultimately lose her. They do not want to lose each other but push each other away with their fears and misunderstandings. Their story is intertwined with several of their close friends who play important roles, all helping to shape the strengths and weaknesses of each other.

The angst of learning to love and trust isn’t always pretty and easy. I thought the book could have moved a bit quicker through Wendy’s early agonizing crush and “dating” stage… but once it did move on to the interaction between the couple, I did not want to stop reading. Ms. Wiesner is an expert storyteller keeping you engaged to find out what happens! I am sure that the other books in the series, about the various friends, will be wonderfully full emotional reads as well. If you are prepared for heartache and joy, this is a book you will enjoy!

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