Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Outer Beauty or Inner Beauty?

If you are a fan of inspirational romances, I know you’ll enjoy Love finds you in Bethlehem New Hampshire. I haven’t read a lot of romances, so please be patient with me if I state the obvious in this review.

The book opens with the hero’s point of view, which I found refreshing. In fact, Thomas has a lot of the characteristics I associate with the heroine of a romance. He’s talented and kind, loves the Lord and seeks His will. But he’s a little insecure and follows the leading of his friends and mentors, which isn’t always the right path. On the other hand, Sara, the heroine, is confident and independent. The dynamic between them sets up interesting situations and advances the plot.

Tom and Sara’s relationship is at the heart of the story, but other people are important to them and help them resolve conflicts within themselves, as well as between the two of them. The book is full of well developed characters I responded to; some I liked, others I didn’t. But many of their actions seemed rushed to me. After one or two meetings, conversations and actions became quite intimate, as if they had known each other for years, or at least months. I kept wondering how they knew so much about each other, or why they responded as they did to virtual strangers. In spite of this, Bliss populated Bethlehem with some great people that I would love to have as neighbors.

The book’s greatest strength lies in the theme of inner beauty versus outer appearances. As they both turn to God for direction in their lives, Tom and Sara rely on scripture to teach them His truths, which culminate in His blessings. They both struggle with the contrast between her poverty and the wealthy socialites who visit Bethlehem, and they both have to compromise a bit. I loved that Sara, the strong, independent woman, learned from Proverbs 31.

Pros: Strong characters, beautiful setting, and a well developed theme.

Cons: Relationships are rushed, lots of clichés and terms aren’t always appropriate to the era.

I’m not a huge fan of romances, and if you aren’t either, you probably shouldn’t read it. But I think this could be the next book for the rest of you.

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