It’s that time again, folks!! As one month closes and another opens before us, we have our next book of the month choice!!
As I’m currently reading another book, I decided to go back to a book I finished earlier in the month, Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh. This book is the sequel to the excellent, hilarious and heartfelt Paper Hearts. I would, again, recommend reading the first book but I don’t see why not with reading this first since it focuses on a different character. The first focused on Abigail Pressman; this one focuses on one of the Valentine Volunteers: senator’s wife Evelyn Brandt. I would also suggest reading them around Valentine’s Day because the holiday plays a major role in the novels, but that’s to make it more fun. Plus, if you’re a single gal like me, it distracts you from the loneliness and meh that is one’s love life.
Change of Heart gives us a story containing another downside to small town life: gossip and the repercussions of scandal even if you are not directly involved. After Evelyn Brandt’s husband, Christopher, is arrested by the F.B.I. on embezzlement charges, her life goes through a difficult, and at times, painful transition. In the process, she deals with being shunned by former society “friends” and her town’s distrust of her because of being the senator’s wife. At the same time, the scandal leads to a reuniting with former friend Trevor Whitney who owns Whitney Farms in Loves Park. There is also a struggle within the Valentine Volunteers as rumors spread of the group losing “their touch” in match-making.
To be frank, I didn’t like the way Evelyn was treated by the people of Loves Park. It was not only unfair, it just felt so wrong to wrongly accuse or believe the wife had something to do with the scandal or mistakes of her husband. But it doesn’t stop there, more scandals from Christopher come out, we get a deeper look into the turbulent marriage between him and Evelyn, a glimpse at Trevor’s struggle to move on from someone he used to love and have a budding relationship with a woman named Maggie and Evelyn trying to rebuild her life, and faith in God.
A lot of us readers have mixed reviews about sequels once in a while because of the expectations from the first book we read or the characters at the center of the story. I was surprised when I first saw this book, but it was exciting to revisit Loves Park and quirky characters like Ursula and Gigi that made Paper Hearts so enjoyable. But, the greatest strength of this book is with Evelyn herself: rediscovering her love for art, being thrust against her will with Trevor to help the Valentine Volunteers and the scenes where she stands up for herself and finally takes control of her life. My two favorite scenes from the entire book involved Evelyn finding her strength when she was told to do one thing, or was treated horribly because of the mistakes Christopher made and the media frenzy that came with it.
This book is absolutely worth a read still because I love Courtney Walsh’s ability to take you into the complexity, highs and lows and humbling moments of the characters. Some characters completely change, and some do not. It just made me more angry, but I can see why: the pedestal that is these figures “in the spotlight” whether political, a celebrity and so on is agonizing. Once a mistake is made and all tumbles down, fury, sympathy and disgust fill one’s minds and hearts. Sometimes, the spouses and those closest to the person who are outed for a horrible deed suffer too, and very unjustly unless proven otherwise.
If anything, we have a lot of lows and difficult moments. I admit it could have ended sooner than it did, too. However, Change of Heart was still a great read.
If you want to check out other selections besides the Paper Hearts series, Courtney Walsh has another series called the Sweethaven series: her debut novel A Sweethaven Summer followed by A Sweethaven Homecoming and A Sweethaven Christmas. She has also has two books on scrapbooking called The Busy Scrapper and Scrapbooking Your Faith.
If you want to learn more about Courtney Walsh, check out her website here: http://courtneywalshwrites.com/