Jessie Stone has been trying to write her own love story (and failing) for a long time. So when God shows up and challenges her to let Him take a turn at it, will she hand over her pen to the original Author? I was perfectly content with what I thought was a fun, chicklitish read about a spunky heroine who can't find her prince charming. But then God showed up as a walking talking character, (and a cute one at that!) and this story became so much more than just another contemporary romance. Imaginative, thought-provoking, and a little hysterical.
Every since she was a little girl, Jessie Stone had fantasized hundreds of marriage proposals, doodled zillions of romantic ideas in a journal and dreamed of wedding dresses and falling in love. Being a bridesmaid nearly a dozen times, waving couples off to their honeymoons, and shopping in department stores for fondue pots are all things that constantly run back through her mind.
But shopping for one key component of those proposals hasn't been as productive as she would have liked: the search for a future husband. What will it take for her to realize that the Almighty has a better plan that she could have ever cooked up in her journals? Will she turn over her pen and trust someone else to write a love story for her beyond her wildest expectations?
Written by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay, this is one of those novels that you just can't put down. Never having read anything by these two authors before, I didn't know what to expect, but it was such a joy to read! It's written in such a way that is just so real and pulls you along with every page. I personally didn't think it was long enough. Some books I just want to go on forever, and this is one of those. And the cover is so enticing that it just draws you in. I definitely recommend this book!
I know you don't know me, but I'll admit it -I'm a drama queen. Hopefully, I am not a drama queen in the negative sort or connotation that this label elicits, but in the very fact that I'm in charge of the drama program at my church. Why do I tell you this? It's because of the advice that my pastor always gives me- he says, "Please pick the comedy skits, because you get to people's hearts through the back door with them, not hitting them over the head with the heavy stuff, it just sort of gently comes to them through their own laughter." And so I comply with his requests- you will find this concept brilliantly executed with Cheryl McKay's and Rene Gutteridge's novel Never the Bride. There is no hitting you over the head, but lots of laughter and great insight, if you pay attention.
We meet Jessie Stone broken down on the side of Pacific Coast Highway with a flat tire bemoaning the fact that there is no guy in her life to take care of these frustrations for her. Yes, the title of the book Never the Bride sums up her attitude on life in spades. After failed online dating services, failed speed dating, and just plain old failed relationships, Jessie Stone is at the end of her "forever single" rope. And then enters a tall, dark, and handsome man with gorgeous blue eyes. Hmmm the answer to her dreams (?) - Oh yeah, but maybe not as she thought. It's God Almighty in the flesh trying to get Jessie to see things His way, that He might have a few ideas on how to handle her love life. Does she listen to Him? Well, sort of, but with a few detours of her own.
This story is told with a wonderful sense of humor, a brilliant fresh writing voice and is a plain, absolute joy to read. As this was written as a screenplay first (Cheryl McKay) and adapted to a novelization later (Rene Gutteridge), it is easy to see how it would make a great movie, but trust me it works as a great novel as well. The scenes are very easy to visualize, especially the scenes where God shows up in various times and places and completely un-nerves our heroine Jessie Stone. His timing is always off according to Jessie and right on time according to God. He manages to get her completely outside of her comfort zone with regards to her ideas on her profession, her beliefs with regards to Him, as well as, of course, her love life. But isn't God like that- His ways are always better than ours, if we will just listen.
So from this drama queen to you I say" Bravo" on "Never the Bride" and I will be rushing to the Movie theaters if this is made into a movie. It was darling, winsome and full of great spiritual messages. I can think of quite a few friends to recommend this book to and I truly hope to see Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge team up again- they are a formidable force. 5 stars.
Wow! I'm not even sure where to begin. I read this book in 4 days time, which is pretty quick for me right now. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. Cheryl McKay's characters honed into book format with Rene Gutteridge's help made for an interesting and thought-provoking story on many levels. In the story, we meet Jessie Stone and follow her through life's misadventures and human assumptions. She is thirty-four, single, longing for the man of her dreams, wanting her love story to finally happen. She has tried all the avenues that most of us (until recently maybe) wouldn't try. She's going through life on her terms without considering what God might want for her. She is the ultimate romantic (hopeless or otherwise) and everybody who knows her knows this about her. What is a woman to do when a mysterious man shows up in her life; a man who says that he's God. This presents many interesting situations for Jessie as she talks to someone that only she can see, etc. The story has twists and turns as does life when we try to follow our format for it and not the format (path) picked out for us by our Creator. Many good characters, fun scenarios, and great details.
I have a problem or two or more with this story. Normally, I try very hard to be very positive when I write my reviews, but I struggle to do that with some parts of this book. I guess my trouble comes from the fact that I want all Christian fiction to be entirely Christian. Not to say that Christians don't have their stumbling blocks (myself included). The issues for me from this book are Jessie's sister (who has lived with one guy after another for some time now), Jessie's decision to move in with someone, Jessie's need to get drunk, and even Blake's shallowness when it comes to women. The other thing that bothers me is that Jessie hasn't had a relationship with God for years, if ever. At one point, we find out that she hasn't set foot in a church in 14 years or so, yet God comes into her life to write her love story. I guess for me the state of one's heart in terms of their relationship with Christ is more pressing, but maybe I'm missing the purpose of this story or overanalyzing it when that much analysis was never what the authors wanted. I believe truly that God wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives. He loves His children (His creation) and wants to be involved in us, but we have a tendency to limit His involvement. Truly, I believe this saddens Him. So, from that point of view, I can see where the authors want us to see that God truly is concerned for us, wants to guide us, counsel us, reprimand us, praise us, enjoy us, etc. I find that there is so much more that I could say about this story, but I don't want to tear about what really was an entertaining, fun, unique story full of interesting characters with human aspects we can each certainly relate to. I did find the book funny, intriguing, and hard to put down. Check it out and tell me what you think.
Disclaimer: This book was provided free for review by WaterBrook Press.