1. My Unexpected Hope
    My Unexpected Hope
    Tammy L. Gray
    Waterfall Press / 2017 / Trade Paperback
    $6.99 Retail: $12.95 Save 46% ($5.96)
    5 Stars Out Of 5 8 Reviews
4.8 Stars Out Of 5
4.8 out of 5
3.6 out Of 5
(3.6 out of 5)
3.8 out Of 5
(3.8 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
4.1 out Of 5
(4.1 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
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  1. New Zealand
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Gritty Christian Fiction
    October 22, 2017
    New Zealand
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 3
    Tammy L Gray writes fiction about broken characters whove done stupid things, who are now trying to pull themselves out of the hell they have created. My Unexpected Hope is no exception.

    Its the story of Laila and Chad, united by their common family histories of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, and separated by those same addictions. Laila eventually kicked Chad out, unwilling and unable to be with someone who showed every sign of turning into his father, or her mother. Now hes back. But can she trust him?

    I didnt enjoy An Unexpected Hope as much as I enjoyed My Hope Next Door. However, that might be like saying I didnt enjoy Hitchcocks Vertigo as much as I enjoyed Rear Window, given that My Hope Next Door won the 2017 RITA award from Romance Writers of America for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements.

    My main issue was Chad. I liked him, and wanted him to succeed in his quest for sobriety. But his characterisation wasnt even, and while he was convinced he was Lailas soul mate, I wasnt. There was no reason for them to be together beyond their extensive shared history. My other reason could be that Im not a fan of the Other Woman or Other Man trope, because it always means a perfectly nice character ends up hurt (as happened in this case).

    My Unexpected Hope isnt a comfortable read.Its full of conflict and angst as two messed-up people try and sort their lives out. But its an excellent story of redemption, and well worth reading. It can be read as a standalone novel, although those who have read My Hope Next Door will enjoy seeing Katie and Cooper again. Well, perhaps not Cooper.

    Thanks to Waterfall Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
  2. IL
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Completely engaging story! Just about pulled an all nighter reading it!
    September 8, 2017
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I often use the phrase beauty from ashes to describe stories that illustrate Gods restorative grace in action yet beauty from flaming ruins seems more appropriate here. The depth of pain and destruction from living in a culture of addiction and abuse are difficult for those of us who have not experienced it to comprehend.

    This story is filled with authentically flawed characters, complex situations, and tangled emotions. If you like your books fluffy, neat, and tidy this one might not be for you but if youre like me and crave stories that will challenge your thinking and raise your level of compassion, dont miss My Unexpected Hope.

    I requested the opportunity to read this book through the author. The opinions expressed are my own.
  3. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Mrs. Gray Never Disappoints!
    August 2, 2017
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

    Where do I begin? I've been a fan of Mrs. Gray since I read Shattered Rose a few years ago. Part of the draw to her books, for me, is her uncanny ability to be real.

    Life is hard. We all have our struggles and issues...even addictions. Tammy didn't sugarcoat any of these things in her writing. She's honest about the troubles Chad and Laila face as Chad tries to overcome his addictions on his own.

    We meet Laila and catch a glimpse of Chad in My Hope Next Door. If you haven't read it yet, strongly encourage you to do so! Their heartbreaking story begins in that book.

    Without giving away spoilers, the best way to give my opinion is to tell you to read this book. If you know someone who is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, read it. If you don't, read it anyway. Chad and Laila's story is a reflection of Christ's love and healing power.

    We are nothing without Him. And with Him, he will use us in ways we cannot imagine. Just like He used Laila in an innocent child's life. Just like he used Katie (from MHND) in helping Chad overcome and see the Light. Just like he used Ben, in ways Laila never imagined.

    Interested now? Read it, you won't be disappointed.
  4. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Another great read by Tammy L. Gray!!!
    July 31, 2017
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    One thing I love about Tammy L. Gray is that she doesn't shy away from the stories few inspy authors are brave enough to tackle. Bulimia? (Shattered Rose) Gasp!! Alcoholism? Divorce? Addiction? In a Christian fiction book?! What?!?!

    Real life in fiction.

    Those are the kinds of stories Gray tells.

    And she tells them well.

    I had a hard time connecting with Laila for the longest time and I remember thinking "what is it about her that makes her feel so closed off?" And then I read it... right there in the pages of the book. She felt closed off because she WAS. Laila had taken so many hits throughout her childhood and early adulthood that she forged walls no one could cross as a means of protecting herself. And the brilliance in Tammy's writing, whether intentional or not, is that it wasn't just Ben or Chad and the other supporting characters in the book that repeatedly hit that wall--it was me, the reader, as well.

    As Laila's walls came down, brick by brick, she came alive and I felt that connection I aspire to feel in the books I read. I want to know that somehow, in some way, I can relate to the characters I'm reading about. I don't have any history with drug addiction in my family or with anyone I am close to, nor do I share any of Laila's past experiences, but I do understand walls... and I can definitely relate to Laila's having built hers.

    Because I myself was on the outside of the wall Laila had constructed, I got to see/feel some of what it was like for her when those walls came down and others began to creep into her life again. The freedom and the HOPE and the forgiveness that came from breaking those personal barriers down. And that was definitely an #allthefeels moment.

    The only thing I have to say about My Unexpected Hope (MUH) is that while it is billed as a standalone novel, there is quite a bit of backstory taken from My Hope Next Door (MHND). I have read that one as well, but wish I had read it again before reading MUH as there were times I got incredibly distracted by the backstory and was too busy trying to remember how everything unfolded in MHND that I couldn't focus on MUH. Would I have suffered the same curiosities if I hadn't read MHND and knew just enough of the backstory to make me determined to remember every piece of it--I don't know. But I will say I definitely recommend reading MHND first.

    Phew! That's a lot of acronyms!

    All that said... if my recommendations are at all taken into consideration by the "powers that be"... I recommend a third story of HOPE--for poor Cooper. ;-)
  5. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Great Read!!
    July 11, 2017
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This is a "great" story about how far addiction can/will take you. This quote from the book is so perfect: You can try and fight, and maybe even sometimes succeed, but without faith, you cannot call it freedom. It's simply bondage on hold.

    The story hit so close to home (my past) that my chest literally hurt while reading. Now THAT'S a sign of good storytelling. Tammy L. Gray is so good at writing raw emotion, and making you feel what the character is going through.

    Do yourself a favor and read this story! You will find yourself challenged too root for the "screw-up," while also identifying with the emotions of he "victim." SO GOOD!
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