Sally John and Gary Smalley have created a story that causes the reader to pause and contemplate the ideas and ideals of marriage, giving the characters "a time to mend" a marriage that has been taken for granted and neglected.
The characters are listed in the beginning, clarifying who is who for the reader--Max is married to Claire and is the founder and owner of a nationwide staffing firm. Claire was a violinist who gave up her career to help Max get started.
The plot evolves with Max and Claire's life taking a turn, now that their children are grown and out on their own--making the empty nest syndrome more apparent. This causes Claire to realize that she has not awakened as an individual in all her years of marriage, but has simply acquiesced to the role of wife and mother without pursuing her own talents. She decides that a definite break from home and her husband is a necessity, and she goes to a friend's house until she finds a place to call her own.
The age old story of "woe is me, I don't know who I am or what I have become" seems to be the theme, with the husband not seeing anything but what he has provided for his family via hard work and long hours, which keep him away from home .
Many parts of this novel reminded me of a counselor's speaking to an individual, rather than a typical character's response concerning trials and tribulations, but that can be attributed to the author's many years of family counseling. I felt the story was drawn to a close too quickly, giving the impression that everything can work out in the last chapter or so and they will "live happily ever after."
This is the first novel in a series, so perhaps the characters will evolve to where they can find peace and joy in their lives, wherever God has placed them. It is also a novel with life's questions, a tragic happening, and a few twists that might not seem right for a Christian novel, but are reflective of real life.
It is easy reading, and the listing of characters in the beginning is a good help.
Sally John is a best-selling author, as Gary Smalley is a world-renowned marriage expert and author. They are developing the Safe Harbor series as a relationship-centered series with recurring characters, but each novel can stand alone. Sharon Rideout, Christian Book Previews.com
An unopened gift. A broken vow. A tragic fire. Sometimes there are wounds that even time can't heal.
Max and Claire Beaumont seem to have the perfect marriage. They live in a beautiful home, have four wonderful children and everything else that success and money can buy. Yet beneath this picture-perfect exterior, Claire's life is falling apart. She can no longer hold her peace and keep up appearances.