Will she ever find beauty?
For years. Stella Varland’s identity was in her looks and she has the pageant trophies, sashes, and bouquets to prove it. After her divorce, Stella no longer trusts her beauty and struggles to find her true identity. Instead of focusing on her appearance, Stella makes spaces beautiful. And her secret desire it to create beauty out of nothing in her art—something she’s kept hidden from her family. When her mother secures a job as the designer for the renovation of the town’s old theater, Stella accepts so she won’t have to move back home with her parents. The day she visits the theater to meet with the head of the local development committee and the contractor, she’s shocked to learn she’ll be working with Chase Taylor, her ex-boyfriend from six years prior. One who left town without a word and was the first to make her doubt herself. Can God and Chase make Stella realize that there is beauty in her brokenness?
While this book is not listed as part of a series, those who have read All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes will recognize a few residents of Bayou Bend, Louisiana. In the character Stella Varland, Betsy St. Amant expresses the heartache and doubt that comes with divorce and the feelings of not being enough. The enough is different from person to person—not pretty enough, not sweet enough, doesn’t make enough money, etc.—but the guilt is the same. Despite her beauty and accomplishments, the pain of her failed marriage, of her unfinished art, of her strained relationship with her mom resonated with me as a reader. I wanted to give her a hug several times, even before Chase revealed she always needed hugs. And speaking of Chase Taylor, what a man. Yes, he’d made some poor decisions in his past, and even in his present, but his desire to protect Stella and show her that she is still beautiful makes him a lovable lead. I enjoyed reading more about Stella’s sister Kat after her own happily ever after in the aforementioned All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, and the people of the homeless shelter were both endearing and wise.
****Thomas Nelson Fiction and NetGalley provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.