Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Review: The Wedding Chapel

This is a lovely cover and I found it very intriguing when the author first announced it on her Facebook page. I still find it lovely, though after reading the book, I'm seeing it in a slightly different light. 

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 Collette 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.\

About the Author:
Rachel Hauck is a USA Today bestselling author. Her book, The Wedding Dress, was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and a RITA finalist. Her book 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, Facebook: rachelhauck, Twitter: @RachelHauck.

My Review: 4 stars
I’m so torn, writing this review! And there’s so much to say about this story! I’m a pretty big fan of Rachel’s books, especially since I loved her Royal Wedding series and I’m going to be honest - I loved this book! I really did! It pulled me in immediately and I read it in less than a day, staying up too late and stopping only occasionally to rejoin the “real world” for a short amount of time. I adored the characters and definitely enjoyed the dual romance, from 60 years past to present day. On the other side, which is leaving me torn, I found it a little . . . “odd,” I suppose is the word I’m looking for. I’ve only read her Royal Wedding series and this book so far and I’m definitely not making a blanket statement, but I’ve noticed a trend in her books that I’m not entirely comfortable with. Thus, the indecision!

As always, Rachel has done an excellent job with the details and may I just say that I adore how she describes things?! She draws me into the setting, until I can almost feel the sunshine, or see the view from Colette’s penthouse, or see the snow drifting down. It’s fantastic and a talent I would personally love to have. She brings the story to life in so many ways and I just love it! I also enjoy how she uses several different perspectives to tell the story, giving different opinions and views of the events. This is something I appreciate as a writer, because it gives the tale depth and allows me to make connections as I follow along and become drawn into the narrative. I really wish I could better describe it, because it’s one of the things I adore about her books. The characters just come to life on the page as she weaves their respective stories into a collective one.

I usually chat a bit about each character, but since there’s a dual relationship going on, and that would make this review super long (okay, longer than usual), I’m just going to say that I loved each character! Taylor and Jack have a lot to work out and they struggle with communication and letting go of past hurts. They both also have issues trusting the other person. They’re disillusioned by life in general and aren’t sure how to fix what’s wrong in their marriage and themselves. So a lot of their story focuses on communication and both learning to be vulnerable. I loved the realness (is that a word?) in their story. It’s not easy. Not “happily ever after.” It’s hard work. It’s pain, tears, anger, hurt, and all of those messy emotions that we sometimes gloss over. And I loved that! I loved reading a book that reminded me it’s okay to be a mess sometimes and that life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to love those all around you.

The other couple’s story takes place many years prior and it also focuses a bit on communication, but also betrayal and decades worth of heartache. It was undeniably the hardest to read and I can’t imagine Rachel writing it without tears rolling down her cheeks. I’m not one to cry at much of anything, but the painful reality shown in this story tempted me. It’s definitely a story of forgiveness and second chances. Some of which come a bit later in life than expected.

Now for the part I struggled with. I’ve already mentioned that I really appreciated the moral backbone of the story, the themes of forgiveness, second chances, communication, and learning to “love well.” But (and isn’t there almost always one?), I have to admit that the spiritual side of the story gave me pause and made me rather uncomfortable. I found that it didn’t line up with my personal beliefs and convictions and honestly, gave me a bit of pause as to whether I was going to finish the story or not. Obviously, I found myself too invested to put it down, but it does leave me indecisive as to whether I can truly recommend it.  

Overall impression: The Wedding Chapel is a wonderfully written novel that left me with much to think about and I loved being taken on a journey that tugged my heart and reminded me to “love well.”

I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!  Of course, this is simply my opinion, so if you'd like to view others, you can always find the book on the links below. 
I actually wrote this review probably around a week ago and I'm still not 100% certain that I could recommend it.  Many sites are now asking "Would you recommend this product to a friend?" and I wasn't sure what to say with this one.  If you've read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions!  Please share in the comments section!


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