Excited about Reading: Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

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The Cover Story:

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to her brokenness—so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but always falls short. So she keeps her passion for her secret art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée in a car crash. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater, and is shocked to learn former flame Stella is the designer for the project.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and their pasts as they struggle to compromise and come together on a vision for the theater. Chase doesn’t understand why Stella is such a subdued version of herself, while Stella doesn’t get Chase’s constant need for productivity and speed. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase breaks through Stella’s walls and convinces her to enter her mosaic tile art in a contest.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force both Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from the broken.

Sharing my takeaway:
Back home in Bayou Bend after the death of his fiancee, Contractor Chase was hired to restore the town’s old theater. From the blurb, I expected him to be a risk taker, but he wasn’t that way at all. He was steady and kind, quite the hero, coming to Stella’s rescue several times. Recently divorced Stella, a preacher’s daughter and ex-pageant queen, is trying to make a living as an interior designer, but will soon be evicted if she can’t work with Chase on the theater’s design. She hides her pain behind a fake pageant smile, baggy jeans, and no makeup. I could relate to Stella’s feelings of inadequacy and loss of self-esteem from divorce. 

The cover is stunning, a perfect match to the inside! The writing was exceptional. The author dug deep into relationships, and this book was so much more than a romance. It’s about people and pain, and how we hide it, and how a person so broken can find their beauty or, in Stella’s case, her “colors” again. It’s about loving people through their brokenness. The story kept me flipping pages, but some threads just didn’t come together as neatly or as satisfying as that last piece in a jigsaw puzzle. As the title implies, Love Arrives in Pieces seemed a bit fragmented, but maybe that’s by author design.

This is the first book I have read by Betsy St. Amant. Readers who appreciate a hefty dose of drama in their stories will enjoy Love Arrives in Pieces. This isn’t a book you’ll whiz through in a couple hours. Set aside a few nights to really dig in. 🙂

Disclaimer: Sending my thanks to NetGalley and Zondervan Fiction for the privilege of reading and reviewing Love Arrives in Pieces. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. I was in no way compensated for my review.

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