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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shard​s of Ashley by Karen Wiesner

Shard​s of Ashley by Karen Wiesner
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (334 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Geranium

In order to reconcile her past, she must face the terrible truth she buried long ago...and in doing so, she gambles with her heart and the salvation of her own soul.

Ashley Savage grew up in a troubled home with a competitive, pampered sister and an abusive, ridiculing mother who played at being a Christian when she needed to...and led Ashley to more addictions than one child could handle. As an adult, Ashley tells herself she's put the extreme fears of the past behind her, but she spends most of her time repairing the crumbling wall holding back the horrors she's not willing to face ever again. She's become a woman against the world.

The one man who has the annoying habit of getting through her defenses is Jay Samuels, a military chaplain and soon-to-be pastor. Much as Ashley wants to leave him behind like she believes she has the rest of her past, Jay is ambitious to a fault where she's concerned. He hears only what he wants to hear—and he doesn't want to hear that she doesn't love him as much as he loves her.

But even Jay doesn't realize the extent of all she's buried deep inside her own subconscious...and what keeps her from giving herself willingly to the God she knows is drawing her inexorably to Himself, to the one place she can't run, where she can no longer hide...

Don't do what I did, and start this fast paced page turner at 10 PM. Not unless you're more of a night owl than I am, and are prepared to stay up until after midnight reading.

This is a well written, fast moving romance about a very damaged heroine who has, understandably, decided God has not been listening to her. The author does an excellent job of portraying both the heroine's initial belief that God doesn't answer her prayers, and therefore is a fraud, and her realization that he will listen, if only she will come out of her shell, stop keeping silent about the horrors of her past, and reach out.

I was particularly moved by Jay's response to realizing that he took her parents' pious mouthings at face value, and that he failed to be there for Ashley in the way she needed him to be. The reaction of the church elders when he confronts them with their blindness is believable. I wanted to shake the elders and give Jay a hug. But the author raises an interesting problem here: how ready should we be to question someone else's professions of faith? Do we embrace them with open arms, even if we have doubts, hoping that they will see the light, or do we hold them at arms length, questioning their faith?

I did find the author's slipping a couple of passages of sermonizing in the guise of Jay's journal entries ot be rather heavy handed, and Ashley's behavior towards her therapist at the beginning of the novel reminded me of the actions of a spoiled child rather than arousing the sympathy it was doubtless meant to. Still, I found Ashley largely sympathetic, and the characters and the situations portrayed in the book are ones that I continue to turn over in my mind.

If you enjoy inspirational romance about serious spiritual dilemmas, you're sure to enjoy this fine book.