Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to her brokenness—so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but always falls short. So she keeps her passion for her secret art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.
Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée in a car crash. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater, and is shocked to learn former flame Stella is the designer for the project.
Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and their pasts as they struggle to compromise and come together on a vision for the theater. Chase doesn’t understand why Stella is such a subdued version of herself, while Stella doesn’t get Chase’s constant need for productivity and speed. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase breaks through Stella’s walls and convinces her to enter her mosaic tile art in a contest.
A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force both Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from the broken.
When a book begins with the phrase “Fairy tales lied”, I sit up and pay attention. Perfect hook to start out a love story for this fairy-tale junkie. It immediately gave me a sense of both Stella’s snark and her pain, and the witty prose that followed endeared me both to Stella and to the author. Poor Stella – still broken from her divorce, a shell of her former self, facing potential eviction if she doesn’t find an interior design job soon. Then she’d be forced to move in with her tough-to-take parents where “she’d be scrubbing her mother’s kitchen floors without a single mouse or bird to help. Some princesses had all the luck.”
I thoroughly enjoyed Betsy St. Amant’s delightful writing voice – witty, sassy, and sweet. It was easy to “hear” the narration in my mind as I read the story, a detail which kept the pace steady and engaging. The chemistry between Chase and Stella lingered over each scene they shared – and sometimes even when they were separate – and I just wanted to fix the ache in each of their hearts so they could find some healing. And Dixie!! Oh Dixie! One of my favorite secondary characters ever, I think! I adore how she pops in and out of the scenes, taking charge for the moment in her own quirky and eccentric way before she abruptly heads off to find someone else’s scene to invade. She always put a grin on my face when she made an appearance.
(And I have some major cover love going on for this book! The way the title art very subtly fits into one of the themes and subplots of the book is ingenious! The more I look at it, the more I see.)
Chase and Stella have each been through a lot and their emotions are understandably on edge. However, I did feel that some of their reactions – to each other and to circumstances (the secret art room, the hair trigger tempers) – were a bit extreme. That said, I haven’t walked in either of their shoes and I can’t say how I would react if I had.
The message of Love Arrives in Pieces hit all the right notes with me – it’s okay to be broken and it’s okay to heal. And sometimes… many times … that healing creates a beautiful piece of art in our lives out of that brokenness. While everybody else (including us) just sees a pile of broken shards of what used to be, God looks at our life and sees the masterpiece that He is creating.
“Brokenness is a method.”
Not one of our favorite methods, perhaps. But one that yields some of the most exquisite results.
Bottom Line: A witty but poignant read that will give you a new perspective on brokenness, Love Arrives in Pieces is very much worth your investment. While this is a sequel to All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes and some of the characters from the first book figure prominently into this story line, you can certainly read Love Arrives in Pieces as a stand alone. I myself have not yet read the first book and did not feel lost – just that I was missing out on the story that happened without me lol. (I shall correct that by reading All’s Fair at my earliest opportunity!) I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys Becky Wade or Katie Ganshert or contemporary romance in any form.
Love Arrives in Pieces gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for only my honest review.)
Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing. Visit her at her website www.betsystamant.com Facebook: BetsySt.Amant Twitter: @betsystamant