Boy, does Jade Benson have a lot on her plate. She is having trouble getting and staying pregnant, when all she wants is to have a baby with her husband Max. Her mother is dying of leukemia. Her seemingly perfect in-laws are separating over her father in law’s infidelities. Her business seriously needs her attention. Did I mention her husband’s addiction to pain killers? Oh, and then Max’s
ex-fiancée dies suddenly and tragically, leaving behind a 19 month old son. A son she had conceived with Max, a week before he married Jade. Seems a bit much, doesn’t it? How is one woman supposed to deal with all of this?
Despite what the title may suggest at first glance, this is not a Romance novel. This is a very emotional look at the life of a woman going through some major struggles. The book plays heavily on spiritual guidance, with the love of family and friends for support to help find the answers. This is one area that I felt disconnected with the characters. Please don’t hate me or try to save me, but I do not belong to any church. So the extent to which the characters discuss God and advised prayer for answers made me a little uncomfortable at times. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s wonderful that people find such comfort in their faith. I fully support it if it works for you. But I can’t say that it works for me, not at this point in my life and I am okay with that. But given my personal experience (or lack thereof), I can’t tell if the characters behavior is realistic or over done.
Moving on, I did feel that I could empathize with the other elements Jade was dealing with. Infertility, the death of a parent… these are very big issues to deal with and I could feel Jade’s loss, sadness, and the idea that everything was just spiraling out of control. Yes, I cried a few tears for Jade…. the scenes with her mother toward the end were very touching.
I should also mention that this is Book 2 of the Songbird series. I did not read the first book, The Sweet By and By. This book did stand on its own. It always seems painfully obvious when a book needs to rehash the plot points from an earlier book… but it is not done in an annoying way. In fact, all I could think was that a lot must have happened in that first book. From the looks of it – plenty will happen in Book 3.
50 States Challenge: Tennessee/Iowa. The book is split between the two states, so I will read an additional book from one of these two states.
Softly and Tenderly
by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck
Thomas Nelson Press, January 2011