Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Jilted by Varina Denman

Posted June 30, 2016 by meezcarrie in Christian, contemporary, giveaway, romance, Varina Denman / 27 Comments

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about the book

Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago.

Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must—once and for all—leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.

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SERIES: Mended Hearts #3
GENRE: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Christian
PUBLISHER: David C. Cook
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2016
PAGES: 384

“There was only one thing Clyde could think that he truly wanted to do with his life. And that was to make Lynda Turner smile.”

I knew I was going to love Jilted … if for no other reason than this: everything that Varina Denman writes is framed in her pitch-perfect writing voice and compelling characters. She has a masterful sense of setting, and each book in this series has been even better than the last.

I totally called it. Jilted is all of those things and so much more.

Jilted book reviewBut here’s what surprised me: I didn’t expect to relate to Lynda Turner as much as I did. In Jaded and Justified, Lynda has been reserved and kinda prickly and hard to get to know. For good reason, as we come to find out, but I sorta imagined myself continuing to be unable to warm up to her. (Although many people who have known me at my most introverted may question how I thought I couldn’t relate to someone “prickly”, “reserved” and “hard to get to know” lol. To those people, I say… yeah. I heard it.)

My goodness, I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about a character!

Lynda IS reserved and kinda prickly and hard to get to know. But she also struggles with depression and anxiety and oh boy do I ever know about those! I so appreciated Varina Denman’s portrayal of Lynda’s battle. It was authentic and touching and I hope it acts as a springboard for some healing discussions in book clubs and small groups and just between friends and family. (Side note: Varina wrote a great blog post on this subject that everyone should check out! 10 Ways to Kick Depression in the Bum)

I’ve already been a fan of Clyde – ever since Justified. I suspected way back in Jaded that he and I would be friends but Justified sealed the deal. And now in Jilted, we became BFFs. Partly because he pursues Lynda with a steady but quiet determination. Partly because he reminds me a little of Disney’s characterization of the warming-up-to-Belle Beast, especially with his grandson Nathan and cooking while color blind. But mostly? The reason Clyde and I are always and forever friends? HE’S A CLOSET BOOKWORM! Y’all. The best heroes are the ones who have read all the books.

Varina does such a fabulous job with every element of her books – characters, setting, and voice. Her people come alive and feel like neighbors and friends (me and Clyde. BFFs. don’t forget.) and even enemies. I want to plop down on a diner stool with Ruthie and Fawn and convince Dixie to let Lynda to take a break (“ten minutes!”) so we can all Jilted quoteeat pie and chat for a while. I want to watch a football game on the hood of Clyde’s car with him and Lynda (though that might get a bit crowded), and I so desperately want to meet Blue and Gray. The town of Trapp, Texas settles around you in vivid technicolor to the point that you swear you feel the hot wind blowing against your face and even some gritty dust against your eyelids.  And Varina’s writing voice is so delightfully unique and poetic without being over the top. She expresses herself so beautifully (“She laughed through the word, and it became a light shush that floated on the breeze and bounced around my shoulders.”) and I have always found her alternating first-third perspective to be profoundly striking in both tone and dimension.

Bottom Line: Jilted brings the Mended Hearts series to an emotional conclusion with layered characters, tender passion, bits of humor, and even a dash of mystery. It’s one of those books that touches the deepest parts of its characters – and you, in the process – and leaves you smiling even through the sheen of tears. It casts a realistic look at small town life, at depression, at church hurt … without glossing over it and without unnecessary/unbelievable melodrama. Most importantly, it etches a beautifully sweet message on our hearts.  That it doesn’t matter whether we are glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of people. What matters is that God stands there, with open arms, waiting to refill our glass from His bottomless pitcher. If we let Him. And if/when we do, we find that our glass isn’t filled with material stuff, not even “fairy tales and happy endings“. Instead, He fills out with hope… and peace… and joy … and love… and people. All the important things.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

My Rating: 5 stars / Fantastic!!

KissingBook Level: 3 / may forget to breathe on occasion

Purchase a copy:

See what others are saying: Litfuse

about the author

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Varina Denman is author of the Mended Hearts series and a native Texan. She spent her high school years in a rural town and now writes stories about the struggles women face in similar small town settings. She and her husband live near Fort Worth, where they enjoy spending time with their five mostly grown children.

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Other Books by Varina Denman

Celebrate the release of Varina’s Jilted by entering to win a $50 gift card.


One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of Jilted to kick off a summer of reading
  • A $50 Kohl’s gift card to make your summertime sweet

The giveaway ends on July 1st. The winner will be announced July 5th on Varina’s website.

What about you? This is the second book I’ve reviewed today set in a small town. Do you prefer the big city or a small town? Why?

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27 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Jilted by Varina Denman

  1. Winnie Thomas

    Wonderful review, Carrie! I already wanted to read this book–now I REALLY want to read it. Soon! I’m a small town girl. I don’t enjoy big cities (except to visit once in a while). I hate the traffic and congestion and too many people. We lived in a big city (well a suburb of one) for 30 years, and now I’m back in my home town and loving it! Of course, my home town has grown a lot over the past years, but I still love it! When we have to go to the big city, we smile all the way home! 🙂

    • Carrie

      LOL!! 🙂 We get the best of both worlds here. We live in a smaller town but Lexington is just 15 minutes up the road.

      • Winnie Thomas

        The town we live in has less than 10,000 people, but we have a town about 5 minutes away that has about 50,000 people. It’s a college town, so there are a lot of students. There are a lot of small towns nestled around the larger one. The smaller ones used to be predominantly farming communities, but they’ve changed a lot in the past few years. A lot of the farmers are selling out to subdivisions. 🙁

          • Winnie Thomas

            Yep, I do, too! It changes the feel of the place. My husband is from an extremely small town about 40 minutes away. It had about250 people at the most while he was growing up, and now it has 250 people–still! It’s still a little farming community, and he’s still a farmboy at heart. He loves to go help his brother herd cows up the canyon, ride horses, haul hay, etc. once in a while. Well, he rides horses a lot, because he has his own horse. I pet the horse once in a while–that’s about as close as I get to riding! 🙂

          • Carrie

            Haha! That reminds me I still need to tell you about my horseback riding class from college 🙂

    • Winnie, it’s good to meet you! I’ve also moved back and forth from small towns to big cities, but I’m not sure which I like better. 🙂 Funny that you should mention a canyon, because my next book is set in the Texas Panhandle on the rim of Palo Duro canyon. So far my characters aren’t herding any cows there, but that’s an idea. 🙂

  2. Yes! I completely agree! I am a small town girl and I do mean small! I don’t think there are 5,000 people in the whole county.

    Our county seat (my hometown) has a population of 2000, we live just north of the next largest town (my husband’s hometown) population 1000.

    Okay, my curiosity won out and I looked up the county population: 6,617. Lots of farmers and good ‘ol country folks, y’all! I would move to Trapp, TX for the Dairy Queen and book store!

  3. Carrie, I love this review, and it makes me so happy. 🙂 I’m sure I’ll be quoting you on social media soon. And I love the graphics, especially the one with the Fritos and the waitress’s notepad. I should’ve thought of that! Thanks, girl. 🙂

  4. carylkane

    Awesome review, Carrie! I grew up in a town of about 600 people along the Texas Gulf Coast. I also lived north of Dallas for several years and enjoyed doing so.

    Enjoy your 4th of July weekend! 🙂

  5. Amanda J.

    I really want to read this book. It’s been getting so much positive hype- all of which I’m beyond certain is well deserved. I’m definitely a small town girl. The nearest grocery store is 20 minutes away, unless you count a 10 minute trek to Dollar General, and the nearest shopping mall is over 30. I’ve traveled to many big cities and always have that long pause of awe, but I wouldn’t trade quiet country living. Great review. I’m going to be book broke soon.

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