Lauren Bradley wants to find true love and goes about experimenting with online dating and attending church singles groups to find the perfect Godly man. But her efforts are met with disaster and her frustration grows as she becomes impatient waiting for God to bring the right man into her life. She decides to become an entrepreneur and purchase Emilia’s, an Italian restaurant. But her goals of buying the restaurant are thwarted by Andrew, a handsome man who also wants the restaurant for himself. Lauren is attracted to Andrew, but becomes involved with her boss, knowing he may not be the man God intended for her.
Andrew has had a passion for cooking since childhood, spending lots of time in the kitchen with his mother. Now he wants to switch from being a teacher, to fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning a restaurant. But there’s one problem, he’s attracted to Lauren and has to fight her for Emilia’s. Will he fulfill his lifelong dream at the expense of driving Lauren away? Or will he sacrifice his dream and compete with her boss for the chance at true love?
Well, it doesn't get sweeter than Christian/Inspirational romance. At the beginning of the story, we are presented with the heroine, Lauren, who wants to buy an Italian Restaurant and discovers that someone else has out-bidden her. She wants it so bad that she is willing to tell a white lie and resort to some amount of deception to have it. The only problem is that the person she's deceiving happens to be God's answer to her prayers for a life partner. Talk about conflicting desires! Throw in a very attractive boss with less than Christian objectives, and the story has all the ingredients for a romance.
Choices of the Heart presents a very human heroine whom a lot of readers should be able to identify with. The hero, Andrew, is a good guy who's willing to give up his dream for the heroine. Now who doesn't love a man who'd step aside so you can live your dream?
A few things didn't quite work for me, though. First of all, the hero and heroine do not have a real relationship until the very end of the story, so they work through their conflicts separately, seeking advise from their respective siblings in their journey to each other. This also means we do not see the hero and heroine together on the page often, which made it difficult for me to really buy into their romance. The story also seems to only scratch the surface of the plot points. Because the story is a Christian romance, and therefore has no sex scenes, the author could have used this as an opportunity to explore her characters and their issues deeply and created emotional tension. e.g. (SPOILER ALERT) when the hero discovers the heroine's deception, he is understandably angry for her betrayal, but he doesn't put up a fight, which makes him seem a little like a pushover. A little more of his POV may have fixed this.
All of that being said, I found Choices of the Heart to be a quick read and pleasant enough. Not bad for a debut novel! I would consider reading the second book in the series (of which the author generously provides a sneak peek).
So the verdict?
If you've read the book, what did you think?