JULIA MONROE BEGINS AGAIN by Rebekah Millet
SERIES: Beignets for Two #1
GENRE: Contemporary Romance (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: October 24, 2023
“A warm and witty tale that will grab you by the heart!”–DENISE HUNTER, bestselling author of the Riverbend Romance series
Samuel was back. It seemed unfair to be blindsided. And in church no less. Shouldn’t there be a commandment about that? Thou shalt not step foot inside thy ex’s place of worship.
Julia Monroe has just turned forty and has high hopes for a fresh start after the last decade of her life abruptly left her a young widow and a single mom. With both her boys off to college, she can finally focus on expanding her New Orleans-based cleaning business. Julia is ready for new beginnings–but God has other plans. Samuel Reed, the ruggedly handsome Green Beret who shattered her heart over twenty years ago, has returned to town and is the kind of distraction she never saw coming.
After their first interaction in years leaves her mind spinning and her emotions out of control, Julia knows she needs to avoid him if she wants any chance of preventing history from repeating itself, but her meddling best friend keeps throwing them together. And now it seems inevitable that the man who was hard to forget might just be impossible to resist.
“Millet has written an achingly sweet story of second chances and the beauty of how forgiveness creates freedom and joy.”–PEPPER BASHAM, award-winning author of Authentically, Izzy
“I loved Rebekah’s kind and funny voice and taking an imaginary getaway to New Orleans.”–BECKY WADE, Christy Hall of Fame author
“This would be so much easier if You just told me what to do…”
Oh my gracious… I am still recovering from this fabulous read! Fair warning – I will probably babble incoherently about it in this review, despite my best efforts to make sense. I laughed on nearly every page. I shed a few tears, too. And I’m pretty sure I came thisclose to being electrocuted from all the sparks between Samuel and Julia… this is NOT a complaint, mind you. Just a swoonified observation.
From the very first page, I suspected that Julie Monroe Begins Again was going to be on my list of favorite reads of 2023. About halfway through, I suspected it would be making my list of favorite books I’ve ever read. And by the end, I knew it would have a solid place on both lists henceforth and forevermore. Between Julia’s sassy running commentary (courtesy of the delightfully written first person narrative), her ‘demon dog’ Chewy, her best friend (and matchmaker) Kate, her mothering anxiety over her college-age sons, and her chain-smoking-no-feelings Mama, I had lots to guffaw and snicker over. The witty mental asides from Julia combined with the smart dialogue to leave me glued to the pages… and okaaaaay… swoony hunk Samuel helped with that too.
Speaking of Samuel, I wish y’all could have seen my ever-scanning ‘book boyfriend’ antennae go up when I read this first line of chapter two:
“I think Henry Cavill just got saved or joined our church.”
Um. yes please! Let’s find out more.
And oh boy did we ever! Turns out Samuel is Julia’s first love, and they have a tumultuous past – one that we learn about in layers – but this former Green Beret is now on a mission to win back Julia and to show her how he’s changed. I mean… honestly… his sincerity, his intentionality, his integrity, his swooniliciousness… ghfjdalkjsdlskfhdkslvhjdlska. <– That’s my last coherent thought flying away. Okay, but seriously – he sounds pretty perfect, right? Well, he isn’t. And that’s one of the many reasons I loved him AND wanted to shake him silly. He’s flawed, and so is Julia. They made a lot of mistakes, together and separately, back in college, and true to form they make a few in being reacquainted now. This time though, the mistakes come from people who’ve lived more life and surrendered to Jesus more than they had before but are nonetheless blindsided by the other’s return to their world and still deeply scarred (especially Julia) by their earlier romance. I thought their reactions made sense given what they’ve each been through, and I also thought that they were necessary speed bumps in helping them ultimately leave behind the pain of the past.
There is so much more I could talk about but I’ll try to sum up. The breathless chemistry and sweet-sizzle kisses between Julia & Samuel is perfection. So is the mix of their flirty banter (particularly on Samuel’s part) and the tender relationship that rebuilds between them. Julia cyberstalking her boys at college, worrying over the gray hair in her eyebrow, and debating how often she really needs to shave her legs is priceless & relatable. Also, the faith thread – especially the emphasis on taking things to Jesus in prayer instead of reacting in our own humanity – really spoke to my heart, and I thought the author wove this beautifully into the story.
Bottom Line: In case you can’t tell, I really loved Julia Monroe Begins Again by Rebekah Millet. It doesn’t feel at all like a debut, but rather the work of a seasoned author. Millet has mastered the art of showing vs. telling, and every word felt perfectly placed. I loved everything about Julia & Samuel’s love story – even when I was frustrated with one or both of them – and I’m still grinning every time I think of them. The wit, the humor, the romance, the friendship, the family themes, and the faith themes – all of that, plus the incredibly engaging writing voice – make this a fave read that I’ll go back to when I need to sink into a great story with all the feels. A must-read for fans of Bethany Turner, Pepper Basham, and Becky Wade! Can’t wait for book two!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. In the interest of full disclosure, the company for which I freelance as a blog/review tour coordinator was hired to promote this book with a social media/review tour at a later date. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / delightful in every way!
KissingBook Level: 4 / keep those fans and fainting couches handy!
Rebekah Millet is a Cascade Award and ACFW First Impressions Award–winning author of contemporary Christian romance novels. A New Orleans native, she grew up on beignets and café au lait, and she loves infusing her colorful culture into her stories. Her husband endures her rearranging their furniture and being a serial plant killer, while her two sons keep her laughing and share her love of strawberry Pop-Tarts. You can find Rebekah on all social media platforms. Learn more at rebekahmillet.com.
What about you? What makes you want to read Julia Monroe Begins Again by Rebekah Millet?