"Made to Last" is a novel that is entertaining, sometimes witty, but still contains a serious thread at its heart. I am excited to see that more contemporary, romance novels are making an appearance on the Christian fiction market. This is a two-person viewpoint novel for which I was thankful. I am not a fan of three or more viewpoints. Melissa Tagg has done an excellent job at keeping the reader's attention constantly with lots of conversation among multiple characters. Also, who in their right mind doesn't love the mountains of Asheville where the setting takes place?
Miranda Woodruff's (love the play-on-words of her last name) television show is possibly being dropped. In order to bring in more viewers and to get the network's attention Miranda goes through with a pretend marriage. A reporter, Matthew Knox, comes on the scene and is required to follow Miranda around and get the inside scoop. In other words, dig up what dirt he can find to save his job. I thought this was going to be a light-hearted comedy. In a way it was, but the further I read the deeper and more serious the book turned. The big themes in this novel are lying and identity.
One of the areas I enjoyed a lot were the details of Miranda's wood-working at her own home and on the television set. I don't know if Melissa Tagg personally knows how to do all this stuff, but she did a great job of bringing it across to the reader. One thing I missed were actual pages in the book containing Matthew's blog posts with some reader comments. I think that would have been neat to include. Maybe a blog post at the beginning of each chapter.
As for the romance I actually loved the fake husband, Blaze! He was so endearing that I fell for him all the way. I never really felt like I got to know the hero, Matthew, very well. To me it seemed there was way more chemistry between Randi and Blaze than Randi and Matthew. I liked Matthew, but never quite go attached to him. The interactions between Matthew and his niece were just right. The child angle wasn't being crammed down our throats like it is in some books. It did get a little disturbing about the amount of men in this woman's life. She seems to have only one or two female friends including acquaintances.
The biggest issues I had with the book were the lack of Christian themes. Miranda felt guilty a lot and knew that she had sinned, but never seemed to repent. It was strange because she talks about it, but seems to go around it. The two main male characters don't appear to have much knowledge of salvation or forgiveness either. All three of them seemed to be searching for God's peace, but never really dealt with it even at the end of the novel. I felt like it was a major missed opportunity by the author. The heroine would sit in the empty church sometimes and think, but that's it. The hero never seemed to darken a church door on his own in the whole book. I hope readers know that sitting in a church or even attending church with Christians isn't going to save them. I realize that the author probably wants the book to primarily entertain the reader, so didn't want to get into Christian topics. If she had stayed in a comical mode throughout the entire novel, than I would have expected it to be lite on spiritual issues. It would have just been a fun, romantic comedy. Since she chose to take it down a darker, serious path I felt like she should have been gone deeper and been a lot clearer on salvation and God.
All in all I enjoyed the book and will probably re-read it several times in the years to come. I am greatly looking forward to Blaze's story next year!
My first impression of the book was that I didn't really like it. It didn't catch my interest right away. There were also a lot of new characters thrown at you: characters from Miranda's life and from Matthew's life. There was a lot going on. I kept on reading and eventually I was hooked. I actually really liked the book. I liked the characters and the plot. One thing I enjoyed is that the character Miranda is not perfect. Many Christian fiction novels that I have read have characters that are pure and innocent. It's hard to relate to those characters. It was nice to see that someone who has made mistakes can be redeemed. It made her more human and easy to relate to. The ending was predictable, but it was interesting to read the journey of the two main characters. There will be a sequel coming out about Blaze and I look forward to reading about his story. Other than that it was a great book and I would recommend it.
I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.
I really enjoyed reading this book as it included many elements. I found myself laughing as many times as I found myself sympathizing with these characters. I thought the author did an excellent job of making the characters personalities shine through. This book has a unique plot and I enjoyed all of the twists and turns. I am hoping the author surprises us with a second book as Blaze has a story that has yet to be told.
*This book was provided by Bethany House for my honest review.
I have been given this book free of charge from Bethany House/Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review.
'Made to Last', by new author Melissa Tagg, is a cute, light-hearted Christian fiction that has a love 'triangle/rectangle' going on.
The main character ~ Miranda, is almost like a movie star, in that she has her own homebuilding tv show, which began w/a real fiance who ran out on her 3 yrs. before. The homebuilding part of it really interested me because of my own hubby/son's construction business, but I still found myself learning some new things.
She pretends to be married for the sake of ratings, then has to come up w/a real guy to play the part, which ended up being quite comical in itself. That person, Blaze, was just a hoot and I found myself wanting to know about his character, hopefully in a future novel.
Meanwhile, another guy, Matthew, is a handsome reporter who follows her around, digging into her personal life to get a 'story', for his own personal reasons. As she starts having feelings for him, she still has to 'pretend' she's married and then in pops the original fiance to make things even more interesting!
Overall, I felt it a very cute and endearing story, but it was almost a bit confusing in the beginning w/the story line and characters and there really wasn't much interaction w/the character's relationship to Christ. Other than that, it was fun read and a great first novel.
How many of us wonder what really happens behind the scenes of our favorite home improvement or reality television shows? Melissa Tagg explores these possibilities in her debut novel, "Made to Last." The basic scenario is familiar: the main character need a spouse, someone is hired to play the part, and the pretense begins with the threat of being discovered constantly looming on the sidelines. Tagg puts a new spin on the situation with a plot that is both humorous and serious and involves a love "rectangle." Humor is more prevalent at the beginning of the novel and takes a backseat mid-way through. Delving into deeper topics deserves a more serious tone, but I found myself wishing for more of the light-hearted moments to make their way back into the plot.
Miranda finds herself in quite a quandary, in a pretend marriage with three potential love interests. "Made to Last" is told from both Miranda's and Matthew's perspectives, and they both bring depth to the plot with their less-than-perfect pasts. They are both believably flawed with stories worth telling. Miranda's fake husband situation is not completely realistic, but the scenario leading up to her ongoing lie is believable. In regards to the love story, limiting the perspective to just Miranda's would have kept me in more suspense about the outcome. From the beginning, it was clear that Matthew captured Miranda's heart, although part of me hoped it would be Blaze. Blaze offers sometimes over-the-top comedic relief in a surfer dude style, but has untapped potential to become a very dynamic character. I definitely hope that we see him in one of Tagg's future novels, but "Made to Last" tackled enough issues without introducing Blaze's as well.
Tagg's contemporary romance reminds me of novels by authors like Denise Hunter and Lisa Wingate. She creates a plot reminiscent of a movie with characters and situations to capture a reader's interest. After getting our attention, Tagg incorporates meaningful themes of honesty, faith, forgiveness, and true love.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising