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Monday, November 23, 2009

Johnny B. Goode For Christmas by Kimberlee R. Mendoza

Johnny B. Goode For Christmas by Kimberlee R. Mendoza
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Short (94 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Fern

Emma has returned to her high school to teach art and literature. Despite painful memories close to a "Carrie" experience, she agrees to chaperone the school Christmas dance.

She is barely holding it together, and then it gets worse. Johnny B. Goode, the jerk from high school who caused her so much pain, has just been hired as the new P.E. coach. It is hard enough to return to the scene of the crime, but to have to look at the cause of all her adolescence angst is too much. Though Emma makes sure Johnny knows she wants nothing to do with him, he isn't easily deterred.

Can Johnny be good this Christmas, or will Emma experience the same heartache again?

A tragic and heartbreaking event in the past tore Emma and Johnny apart fifteen years ago, and though they’ve tried to move on with their lives, neither has forgotten the other. Then, in a simple twist of fate, they find themselves back at the scene of the crime, hosting the Christmas dance as teachers in the very school they once attended. Thus is the beginning to a heartwarming story of redemption, faith, and trust.

As someone that hasn’t read much in the Christian romance genre, I was anxious to see if I’d like Johnny B. Goode For Christmas. I’m delighted to say that even with the ever important Christian foundation on which the characters are based, this is a wonderful little story that will tug at your heart and make you believe in the happiness derived from forgiveness.

I related to Emma on multiple levels. The embarrassment she suffered years before was something I think all women fear experiencing. There is nothing worse than reaching out for the boy you want–and believe wants you in turn–only to learn it was a cruel joke the entire time. The flashbacks to the event that left her broken are devastating, and you’ll want to cry right along with her when she relieves them. It’s almost enough to make you detest Johnny for the pain he’s caused, but fortunately, Ms. Mendoza reverses the roles and presents a remorseful hero that regrets the mistakes of his youth. Johnny was a boy that allowed fear to rule his life, and because of it, hurt the one girl he always wanted. Through flashbacks of his own, you’ll understand that though his actions were wrong, he never intended or wanted to hurt Emma. Although it doesn’t erase what he’s done, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to gain Emma’s trust, and if she’ll give him the opportunity, the chance to win her heart.

While it is a very minor criticism, I did have one problem while reading the story. Being a Christian work, I was rather shocked that a character attempts suicide in a manner that goes against the fundamentals of the written word. Certainly, Christians commit suicide, but generally under the belief that they feel everyone, including the Lord, has forsaken them. In this case, the character believes that the only help will come from God, and tries to join Him. As a tenet of Christianity, God views the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. So suicide is in direct conflict to God’s wishes, and is actually a manner of turning ones back on Him. If this character wanted His help, as indicated at the time, then prayer and reflection would have been the way to achieve it. Again, this is a very small portion of the story, but as a story with a religious foundation, I couldn’t help but notice and felt it should be mentioned.

With that said, even with the above mentioned issue, I would recommend this story. It’s very well written, the characters are memorable, and the pace is brisk. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll cheer for Emma and Johnny. I loved the journey they take to forgiveness, and the tentative trust that develops along the way as they put faith in not only God, but themselves.

If you want a story packed with emotion, you can’t go wrong with Johnny B. Goode For Christmas.