Wow! Wow! Wow! Okay, after reading the first book, "The Sweet By and By", I was hooked! I couldn't wait to begin turning the pages of, "Softly and Tenderly". Now although this book will bring you great blessings, I suggest you read, "The Sweet By and By" first. It is the backbone of this series. It brings you to the heart of Jade and her past. I love the character of Jade Fitzgerald. She is so believable. She is broken and searching. I feel so connected to her. Maybe because I was that girl once. That girl searching for real.
In Jade's world, everything is broken. She wants to escape her real and find solace for just a while. Her husband, her marriage, her in-laws and her own family are struggling. Everyone seems to have secrets, even Jade. The secrets these characters are holding are not only hurting themselves, but their relationships with one another.
Jade is devastated as her mother is dying. A mother she has had a love/hate relationship with all her life. This is one of my favorite parts of the book. I loved watching their brokenness turn to a sweet relationship. It didn't just happen over night. It took time. It took grace. It took the Lord.
Oh, the brokenness these characters feel just tugs at your heart. You want everything to work out perfect for these characters, but that just isn't real life. Things don't always turn out our way, but always and forever, God's way. He has perfect timing and a purpose for every pathway of our lives. Through our brokenness we get His healing and grace.
The character I didn't like? Jade's father-in-law, Reb. I think of him and I just get angry at his meanness. His name just sounds like pride. But I'll be, we still see God's grace and love for even a mean one like, Reb. There are so many life lessons in this book. So much to take away.
I applaud, Sara Evans, for stepping out and taking on the challenge of writing. You go girl! Job well done. I am now a huge fan. Rachel Hauck is already at the top of my favorites list. This book is filled with redemption and grace leading healing for these characters. I cannot wait to finish this series with the third book, "Love Lifted Me", in the fall of 2012.
Softly and Tenderly is the second book in the Songbird series, and continues the story of Jade, as written by country-singer/writer Evans and Christian fiction author Hauck. I did not have the pleasure of reading the first book in the series, but found that it did not impact my ability to enjoy this book. In this second installment, Jade's world is rocked when she and her mother-in-law June make a discovery that shocks Jade and causes her to question everything she thought about her husband's family. When Jade then learns that her husband Max had a child with another woman, a child she was never told about, she must confront her past and her present in order to decide whether she will be able to move forward into an uncertain future.
Evans and Hauck have written a moving story, one that is filled with deep characters and family dynamics that are raw and real. The characters are faced with struggles any family may encounter - cancer, drug abuse, infertility, affairs, and I found my heart aching for Jade and June and their past and present difficulties. The shocking discovery that is unveiled in the first chapter sucks you into the story and awakens your empathy for the characters, and I found the story to move along swiftly. The story is carefully crafted, and I enjoyed the author's creative descriptions, such as when they write "the kitchen was like a structural hug, cozy with June's Southern hospitality and dabbled with yellow and gray smoky mountain sunshine dripping through the skylight".
The writing is sensuous in places, earthy, raw, and the story unfolds layer by layer in a way that exposes the depths of the characters emotions. I found myself moved by the characters ability to forgive, which is handled in a realistic manner. Readers who enjoy contemporary novels will resonate with this book, and will find their faith both challenged and inspired. Some of the closing words are profound, such as when Jade notes "But it was facing the pain, pushing through the heartache, that brought her to this moment of peace. Life had true hope for her". These are words that we all may aspire to when we are faced with our own tragedies.
I strongly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via the Booksneeze program and netgalley, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
The old adage "you can't judge a book by it's cover" rings true for the Benson family. Jade and her husband, Max, have everything, except a baby. Max's parents have the picture perfect life, on the outside. Jade and her mother, Beryl, are just getting to know each other while Beryl battles leukemia. Then everything implodes for everyone -- infidelity, drugs, secrets, panic attacks -- and life as the Benson family knew it comes apart.
The characters were realistic -- human and flawed. The problems were believable. The pain was deep, raw, and real. Through out the book my emotions were all over the board and any book that needs three tissues is a keeper.
Review: Softly and Tenderly - Book #2 Songbird Series - Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck - Jan 2011
Just when life was starting to look up for Jade Benson, she married lawyer Max and reunited with her mother Beryl. A whole new set of challenges are about to occur, desperate for a baby Jade is heartbroken when her doctor informs her that she cannot carry full-term and her mother is diagnosed with Leukemia. When her husband Max and his mother June start pressuring for a child, Jade is torn between God's way and the worldly options of surrogacy and adoption. When tragedy strikes and Max's ex-girlfriend Rice is found dead, it seems that she left behind something for Max - a son that Max didn't let Jade know he had. With the revelation of Max having a son , it causes Jade to re-evaluate her marriage and whether or not she can live with the knowledge that he had a son elsewhere.Softly and Tenderly ia the sort of novel that when your whole world comes crumbling down, the only thing to help save what you have is good friends and family.
Softly and Tenderly, by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck, is anything but soft and tender as the story first unfolds. Secrets and betrayal open with painful harshness. You find your heart bleeding all over the pages with the characters. There's no sugar-coating on the raw emotions felt and displayed. Honest, heartfelt, and painful conversations are held. Heart-wrenching in every way. Choices made could have easily been my own.
Sara pulled out all the stops on a very touchy, harsh reality for some women. Had it not been for the mix of humor and hope, the pain and rejection could have almost been too overwhelming, but overall I believe Sara did it with just the right balance.
Added to these scenarios is the cold reality of an imminent death to be dealt with, one where the past has almost devastated the relationships. With maturation, reconciliation is cautiously and even humorously worked out.
Despite the gravity of the subjects, I don't think I've ever been moved as much by a story as I was with this book. It was deep and intense, and you felt every part of it. The pain, grief and sorrow were not glossed over. Very realistic, yet encouraging. God's grace was apparent throughout the gamut of circumstances, though not necessarily seen Ã¢â¬Ëin the moment.' His power of forgiveness is strong, but not always instant.
A powerful book to help women in situations such as these. Softly and tenderly does work its way in at the end in an unexpected way. Top of the line writing!
Here's to Ã¢â¬Ëall the women out there just trying to live a little stronger.'
This book was provided by BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.