Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Unraveled by Heidi McCahan

Blind-sided by her questionable fiance, Lauren Carter returns to the one place she's been avoiding, the place she used to call home. As she's forced to look into the eyes of her past and even worse, her unraveling future she discovers that running only leaves you out of breath on a dead end street. Will she choose to unveil the secrets that haunt her? Or will she bury them once and for all and embrace a new life so different from the one she once held dear?

Blake Tully, wildly successful and breathtakingly winsome owner of a new rafting business, finds Lauren's unexpected reappearance confusing. As he torments himself with what if's and what should've been, he can't mistake the feeling that crawls down his spine every time he looks at her. Although she broke his heart once, he longs to give his childhood sweetheart another chance, but can he convince her to stop running away when life gets tough? And can he forgive her when he discovers the reason she's been hiding?

Unraveled by Heidi McCahan was a sweet and touching novel that I had trouble putting down. The storyline was well-written, quick-paced, and had a wonderful mix of romance, unexpected danger, mystery, and suspense. I liked how the book was set primarily in rural Alaska and contained descriptions and events, like rafting, that demonstrated the beauty and wild nature of the area. The themes of this novel were clear and convicting and included topics such as the importance of forgiveness, honesty, and being willing to trust and to love again despite heartache. I thought that Unraveled really caused the reader to think about how past mistakes and refusing to face one's faults can hurt those you love and cause more pain than admitting your mistakes. The novel was narrated from the third person point of view, but the perspective from which the story was told alternated between Blake and Lauren. This style allowed the reader to identify with both main characters and to understand what each was thinking and feeling. The novel did have some grammatical issues and places where words were missing, but it did not detract significantly from the story.

The characters in Unraveled were well-developed, realistic, and enjoyable to read about. Both Lauren and Blake were interesting characters who had their share of strengths, weaknesses, and struggles that they had to work through. I really liked Blake. He never truly gave up on Lauren, and he was able to offer forgiveness even when she devastated him, first by leaving, and then with her return and her secrets. I had a harder time connecting with Lauren because she was unwilling to stop running and to turn to God and trust Him. However, as I learned more about her life, her past, and her concerns, I was able to understand her actions more and to relate more to her personality. The minor characters in this novel added to the complexity of the story and contributed both advice and barriers to Lauren and Blake's lives, depending on the character. There were a couple aspects concerning the characters that I did not particularly like. I wish that Lauren's return to God had been clearer. One of the women in her life was always offering her advice and sharing God's Word and His love with Lauren, but Lauren never really began trusting and praying to God again. I think that the redemption of the story would have been more realistic and convicting if Lauren had explicitly returned not only to Blake but also to her relationship with God. Another conclusion that I found odd in Unraveled considering the novel's themes was the lack of forgiveness offered by several characters to Aunt Jane. Aunt Jane came in and temporarily wrecked everyone's lives, but she simply disappeared out of the story in the end and was still mentioned by her sister and others in a bitter manner. I would have liked  there to have been more closure with Aunt Jane even if forgiveness was not yet possible for the characters to express.

Overall, I really enjoyed Unraveled, and I would highly recommend to readers looking for a tender, romantic novel that emphasizes important values such as forgiveness, honesty, and trust. I look forward to reading more of Heidi McCahan's novels in the future!
I received this novel from the author and Winslet Press in exchange for an honest review.

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