This is Book 3 in the Sacred Vows series (Never Without Hope, Their Separate Ways). In my opinion, each one gets better. I hear there's going to be a fourth installment, and I'm looking forward to it.
In Decision to Love, it's eight years after Tony Perotta and Hope Williams' affair ended. Now there are new problems. Hope and James' son, Jimmy, has gone away to college, but returns home for the holidays with a startling revelation that devastates his dad, causing his final heart attack. Now, Hope is grieving the loss of her husband, and dealing with Jimmy's situation.
For Tony, things aren't looking so good, either. Until he is accused of killing his ex-wife, and is sent to prison for a short time. Before he is found to be innocent, and released, someone visits him there, and helps him to turn his life around. Then, his long-lost daughter from Italy contacts him, about which he is overjoyed. But Nina has secrets of her own.
Will the thread that connects these four people ultimately be what helps make them whole in the end?
Once I started reading, I didn't want to stop. I had to, though, so I could get my chores done, and whatever else, but it was so, so hard. As in the other books in the series, I like how all of the characters act and react in a realistic way to situations that are relevant to today's world. But as Christians, sometimes they mess up royally, and sometimes they do what's right. Sort of like real-life people, eh?
As I've said so many times before, Michelle Sutton is one of my favorite authors. I enjoy reading edgy Christian fiction, and she does it so well, you could say she practically invented it. So, if you like edgy, or if Michelle is a favorite author, or even if you've never read her works before, I think you'll love this book.
Michelle Sutton has more courage in her little finger than I have in my entire life. She focuses on controversial topics, and with the mercy and grace of God, writes candidly about the subject. In the series, Sacred Vows, the first book, Never Without Hope, addresses the topic of an extramarital affair. Their Separate Ways, the second book, is about the aftermath of the affair from the viewpoint of both married couples, and the most recent book to be released, Decision to Love, the subject of homosexuality is faced head-on.
In Decision to Love, major changes occur in the lives of the main characters who we met in Never Without Hope. Although Decision to Love can be read as a stand-alone book, I encourage you to read the first two books so you can follow the lives of the characters from the beginning of their story. Decision to Love picks up where Their Separate Ways ends and the book opens with an immediate "shocker." The situations involving Hope and James, the man Hope committed adultery withâ€”Tony and his wife Brenda, begin to find resolution in ways that most readers might not expect. Without giving away a major part of the story, I will say that homosexuality is introduced and we meet Tony's long-lost daughter.
Decision to Love is, by far, the edgiest of the three books. It is very suggestive and if you are easily offended by hints of sexual temptation and activity, you may not want to read it. However, this book is a very realistic slice of life and one that Christians and the church have, for the most part, ignored for far too long. Perhaps these books will begin to awaken the church to their responsibility to address these topics, not just from behind closed doors, but from the pulpit.
In all Christian Fiction books, including the edgy ones, it is expected that forgiveness, hope and redemption through Christ Jesus are the answers to whatever problem is presented within the book. Michelle does a masterful job as she makes it clear these three things are the answers to sin - any sin. These books should be read by couples whose marriage has been affected by adultery on either spouse's part; by parents whose child has declared their homosexuality; and by counselors and pastors who want to have a deeper insight into what families go through in these situations. I know that these books have broadened my understanding of the effects on families when adultery and/or homosexuality invades their lives. I encourage the readers to read these books prayerfully, asking God to give you an open mind, eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to receive and compassion and wisdom for those whom the readers know who are involved in adultery or homosexuality.
Is love a decision or an emotion? That is the question posed when reading the summary of Sacred Vows Book 3 - Decision to Love by Michelle Sutton.
One thing that you don't want to do when reviewing fiction is to give too much of the story away. But with this book you do need the back story. It's okay that you haven't read the first two books, but I enjoyed this one so much that I might go back and read the first two.
This is some of what you need to know, James and Hope are married and have a son named Jimmy. Tony is single but at one time had been with a woman named Tina and married to a woman named Brenda. He has a son Mikey. In this book you also find out he had a daughter with Tina named Nina. If you read the book description you will also find out that Hope and Tony had an affair 8 years prior.
I like how Michelle told you at the beginning of each chapter which main character the chapter was about, Hope, Tony or Jimmy. It helps you keep the stories in perspective. This book wastes no time getting the story started. In the first chapter Tony is accused of killing his ex-wife (also found out in the summary, so I am not giving anything away there). Hope and James stayed together after the affair and had been working on their marriage. You also find out right away that there is tension between James and Jimmy.
When I agreed to review this book I read a letter from the author. She warned us that it was an edgy book that covers controversial topics. I was really expecting it to be a little uncomfortable to read. I found that it was not that bad. Yes, it covers controversial topics - affairs, divorces, and others ... those I won't give away to you. I will let you know this much. This book does have a homosexual story line. It's a very interesting part of the story. Do not let steer you away from this book.
Here is what I really liked. This book is part of a series, book 4 is coming out next year. I was not left hanging at the end of this book to see what was going to happen in the next book. The stories were complete. Without having read the first two books I still was able to understand the characters and they were developed well.
Doctors and dieticians alike agree that too much sugar is harmful. The same advice holds true for mental nourishment. We need literary sources of nutrients for the mind, heart, and soul. This is why author Michelle Sutton's style is so refreshing. It's Christian fiction without the candy coating. Let's face it; life is not the Hallmark Channel. Her realistic characters have real flaws and face real dilemmas, all of which provide very real mind-food for the reader. "What would I do, if faced with this situation? How would I react? Would my faith be strong enough to deal with it? What would I do if I stumbled in my Christian walk?"
While Decision to Love is the third in the series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. The narration provides all the background the reader needs. The depth of the character development draws the you in immediately, and as quickly provides a tasty recipe for gourmet food for thought. Add two cups of drama and three cups of steam_mix in two tablespoons of emotional angst_ and bake in the loving oven of forgiveness.
Sutton slips seamlessly and distinctly between the characters. Hope, Jimmy, and Tony deal with guilt, confusion, and uncertainty, among other things, but each deals with it differently as they find their way and their walk with God. Every character has his or her own clear voice. The well-drawn drama makes it incredibly tough to put down. But why would you want to?
This book is a must-read! Get your literary protein from Decision to Love and save the sugary, candy-coated fiction for dessert.
This is the third in the series and I believe it is my favorite. This part of the journey takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions as the characters face the next set of challenges. Michelle has done an excellent job pulling you into their world. You know a series has legs when you can see and feel the growth of the characters. I hope she continues the series.