After taking a much needed break from reading over Christmas vacation, I decided to begin 2016 with Rachel Hauck's latest release. I thought I'd read for an hour or two ... and five hours later, I turned the final page of this wonderful book.
A lonely wedding chapel built as a tribute to lost love just might hold the long-awaited secret to hope and reconciliation.
For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty. Retired football hall-of-famer Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook built the chapel by hand, stone by stone, for his beautiful and beloved Colette Greer, whom he lost so many years ago. The chapel is a sanctuary for his memories, a monument to true love, and a testament to his survival of the deepest pain and loss.
Photographer Taylor Branson left her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee to make a new life for herself in New York. Taylor had lots to run away from, not least of all a family history of broken promises and broken dreams. Love catches Taylor off guard when she falls for Jack Forester, a successful advertising executive, and their whirlwind romance leads to an elopement – and then to second guesses. Jack, in spite of his very real love for Taylor, is battling his own demons and struggles to show her his true self and the depths of his love for her.
When Taylor takes a photography assignment in Heart’s Bend, she is thrown back into her own past and encounters family secrets buried deep beneath the sands of time. And when Taylor and Coach’s journeys collide, they each rediscover the heartbeat of their own dreams as they learn that the love they long to hold is well worth waiting for.
From beginning to end, I was completely engaged in The Wedding Chapel. When I realized it would be a dual timeline story, I became a bit uneasy—often in these stories, I care far more for one timeline than the other. Not the case here, possibly because Jimmy's and Colette's stories ran through both timelines, providing a unifying factor. Plus, the stories were just so good!
Somehow, though the main characters were not always likable, I was very invested in each of their stories, and I never minded the shift from one character's point of view to another's. While I enjoyed each of the four main characters, I especially loved Jack's story (though he received less page time than some of the others). His journey, which led him to the father's love he so craved, also represented the strongest faith thread of the novel.
Hauck wove multiple twists and turns into this engaging story—the kinds of twists that I didn't fully anticipate, yet they made perfect sense once revealed and caused the story to take on new meaning.
While Hauck's recent releases (the Royal Wedding series, which I loved) have been a bit on the fluffy side, The Wedding Chapel has much in common with her wonderful The Wedding Dress. There's a depth and realism to The Wedding Chapel that I found wholly satisfying. This is a beautifully romantic and compelling novel about secrets, sin's consequences, family, and redemption that will stick with you beyond the final page. 5 stars.
Buy the novel.
Read my reviews of Hauck's The Wedding Dress (4-1/2 stars), Once Upon a Prince (5 stars), Princess Ever After (5 stars), How to Catch a Prince (5 stars), A Brush with Love (5 stars), and A March Bride (4 stars).
Rachel Hauck is an award winning, bestselling author. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times, and Once Upon A Prince was a Christy Award finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at rachelhauck.com, Facebook: rachelhauck, and Twitter: @RachelHauck.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook blogger program and The Fiction Guild. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. 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."
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