Book Review (and a Giveaway!): If He Only Knew by Michelynn Christy & Brandi Gabriel

Posted February 17, 2018 by meezcarrie in Brandi Gabriel, Christian, giveaway, historical, Michelynn Christy / 43 Comments


about the book

It’s 1968, and love is in the air in the small coastal town of Cambridge, California.

Donna Peterson, the preacher’s daughter, has her entire life ahead of her and the future looks promising.

But things aren’t as they seem in Cambridge.

A tangled web of secrets threaten to destroy the lives of each person involved – Donna, her boyfriend Bobby, and Rick, Bobby’s best friend.

Will the truth make them free, or will they lose their friendship forever?

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GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Blessed Publishing
RELEASE DATE: August 19, 2017
PAGES: 214

First of all, can we talk about that gorgeous cover?!? That’s totally what drew me to this book in the first place. It’s just stunning.

This peek into the late 60s is peppered with nostalgia and interesting tidbits of life in that era – an era not seen too often in Christian Fiction. Donna and Bobby and Rick are a complicated love triangle, made even more so by the Vietnam War and events back home. The preacher’s daughter aspect to Donna’s character adds extra dimension as well.

If He Only Knew ended up being a very different book than I expected. In fact, I’ve been praying about how to write this review. There are some elements of the plot that I have real heart-issues with, but I can’t truly flesh them out here without giving away spoilers. I will say this: there is sin going on within the plot – by many different people – yet the woman takes most of the blame and self-condemnation (as well as severe condemnation from others). I wanted to purse whomp both men, to be honest. Forgiveness is demonstrated and I see what the authors were trying to do, but for me it fell short of the goal. And frankly, I would not give this book to any woman who had been through what Donna experiences – because while Donna continues to repeat a particular phrase of self-condemnation (and others do as well) no one really steps in and says, “Yes. You sinned. But GRACE.” Yes, what she’s saying is true, but it just hurt my heart to think of the damage it could do to another woman whose emotions are already raw from the same situation. And I also realize that part of the other characters’ reactions were par for the course during that time period, but the beauty of writing fiction in different eras is that we get to change the story a bit. We get to pour soothing grace over raw wounds, not ignoring or minimizing the sin but letting abundant mercy come alongside the judgmental finger pointing.

Another part of the problem, I think, is that the writing itself just didn’t do it for me. On the surface, the characters appear to be acting as expected, yet it seems to stay on the surface. There wasn’t the emotional connection that I needed with any of the characters and in large part that’s due to the way the first part of the story tries to keep what happened a secret until a big reveal later on. But then there are other little things that are symptomatic of the larger issues. For instance, a character who is shipping out to Vietnam forgot he was going and therefore had to leave without preparing the woman he loves (whom he hasn’t told he’s leaving). In a later chapter, there is very little reaction to someone basically returning from the dead. All in all, the writing just needed to be tighter and maybe some of the earlier frustrations I mentioned wouldn’t have occurred.

Bottom Line: Reviews like this are difficult to write, because I would rather gush over how much I loved a book than talk about why I didn’t like it. With some tweaking here and there, this has the potential to be a powerful story that can promote healing. I do feel I must also mention that this book deals with some ‘trigger issues’ that may rub salt in raw wounds for some women. I can’t publicly mention them to avoid spoilers, but if you are concerned that it might affect you, please message me on Facebook and I’ll be happy to talk about it with you ♥ I also realize that my opinions are in the minority as it’s received mostly 4 and 5 star reviews so far.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the authors. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 2 / Problematic 🙁

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about the author

Author Michelynn Christy resides in the Midwest and enjoys creating romantic stories that point to Jesus. Her faith in God shines through the pages of her writing. Michelynn’s debut novelette A Christmas to Remember launched in late 2015. While this pen name and genre are somewhat new to her, she has penned over twenty titles under another pseudonym, has won awards for her works, and has earned best-selling title status. With that said, all glory goes to God!
Brandi Gabriel is co-author of twelve Christian fiction books, including this one. Her first solo novel, The Orphan Bride, released in 2016 and she has since added a sequel in the same series. Her goal in writing is to touch readers’ hearts in some special way and to glorify Jesus Christ, her Lord and Saviour.

To celebrate their tour, Michelynn and Brandi are giving away the following:

Grand Prize: ONE themed book box, (this will contain small items that relate to the story
1st Place Prize: ONE $25 Amazon gift card,
2nd Place Prize: ONE signed paperback copy of If He Only Knew
3rd Place Prize: ONE signed paperback copy of If He Only Knew!!

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This giveaway is hosted by Celebrate Lit, not RimSP
Follow along with the tour for more chances to win!

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43 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): If He Only Knew by Michelynn Christy & Brandi Gabriel

  1. Paula S.

    Thankyou for being bold enough to post an honest review. And thanks for praying about it! I struggle occasionally with a book review. I dont want to hurt feelings, but sometimes the writing is just so trite and predictable. Outlandish scenes and I know it wasn’t tongue in cheek! This review helps me to put a perspective on my own reviews, although I don’t have my own blog. See Carrie, it wasn’t a waste…we all learn something! You are one of my favorite reviewers! Blessings

  2. Arletta

    It’s actually been awhile since I’ve read a review that wasn’t 5 stars! It makes me feel guilty when I tell someone that I liked the book but it wasn’t amazing, as if I’m the only one that doesn’t think every book is the best ever written.

  3. Perrianne Askew

    Thank you for the honest review. Those are always tough! I would probably still read it, though. Thank you formthe giveaway opportunity.

  4. Thanks for reading and reviewing, Carrie! We appreciate ALL reviews and realize not everyone will have the same opinions and views – and that’s totally okay! We pray this book and its message will be a blessing to others. Blessings <3

  5. Dianne Casey

    Appreciate your honesty in reviewing the book. Everyone has different tastes in books, movies,etc.and has to make their own decision.

  6. Janet Estridge

    As a buyer for the church library, it always helps to read reviews of books. I’ve bought books and then turned around and took them back to the store, once I started reading the book.
    Thanks again for all you do.

  7. Thank you for being honest. I applaud you for being braver than I am. But it’s SO helpful to let people know what a book is like. And even the author can learn from an honest/kind review like yours. Well done.

  8. Connie Scruggs

    Thank you for being honest in your review. Your “fan girls” trust you, and this definitely proves that you deserve our trust.
    You wrote this review in a positive and fair way. You didn’t bash the book, or the authors. You simply stated your honest opinion. I’m proud to be a loyal reader of your blog.

  9. Connie Scruggs

    Thank you for being honest in your review. Your “fan girls” trust you, and this definitely proves that you deserve our trust.
    You wrote this review in a positive and fair way. You didn’t bash the book, or the authors. You simply stated your honest opinion. I’m proud to be a loyal reader of your blog. Keep being you!

  10. Penny Mooney

    Thank you for your honest review. The cover had drawn me in and the blurb was interesting but I can’t read it now. I have a low tolerance for the way women were treated in that time era. I know how my Mother was treated and how it shaped her life afterwards. She was not given Grace even though it wasn’t her sin. I really appreciate your review and I hope it helps more women like me. May God bless and keep you.

  11. Kay Garrett

    Thank you for your honest review on “If He Only Knew” by Michelynn Christy & Brandi Gabriel and for being part of the book tour.

  12. Andi

    Your review was spot on! I had a hard time writing mine too. I also thought the faith thread was preachy. Pretty much how you expressed the sin but not showing the grace.

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