Today, it is my pleasure to review Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade, the second Porter Family Novel, by Becky Wade. This book is published by Christian publisher Bethany House and is available beginning this month.
Confession: I haven’t read the first book in this series, Undeniably Yours. I hate starting a series in media reas. Also, I haven’t read too many contemporary Christian romances from Bethany House. I tend to stay with what’s familiar and branch out when I get opportunities to review books or find new authors through familiar publishers. This is why reviewing is perfect for me; it stretches my horizons a bit. Lastly, I’m a sucker for a story that gives you an almighty mess to untangle and really makes the characters work for their happily ever after.
The Short Version: Ty Porter and Celia Parker got married in Vegas after dating four days. It shouldn’t have worked, and for a long time, it didn’t. But God had a plan to save the bull rider and the baker’s marriage, and He carried it out despite their stubbornness, bitterness, and inability to forgive. This reader really enjoyed being along for the ride.
The Long Version: Celia Parker has been infatuated with Ty Porter since he sat beside her in Ceramics class her first year of high school. They became good friends, but not the more Celia longed for. Several years later, Celia meets up with Ty in Las Vegas after a bull riding competition, and for the next four days the two become nearly inseparable. They decide to get married after this whirlwind courtship and have a perfect wedding night. But in the morning, Ty shatters Celia’s happily ever after:
“You…you didn’t force me into marrying you, if that’s what’s upsetting you. I made my own decision.”
“Without all the facts.”
“What do you mean–”
“I’m in love with someone else.”
Heartbroken, Celia returns to real life and struggles through. She’s determined to put Ty Porter behind her and pursue her dream of opening a bakery/coffee shop–until she finds out that their wedding night resulted in a baby.
Meanwhile, Ty Porter goes on to have a successful rodeo career and waits around for the woman he thinks he’s meant to be with, Tawny. Five and a half years after his marriage, Ty returns to Vegas and passes the corny chapel where he married Celia and feels a sudden need to track her down and close that chapter of his life once and for all. He meets her and thinks everything is done–until he meets his little girl, Addie.
Once Ty knows about Addie, he’s determined to be a good father to her. Celia is just as determined to protect her daughter’s heart, and her own, from the charming man who fooled her once into giving her heart to him and then breaking it. The more time Ty spends with Celia, the more his attraction to her grows. But with two stubborn people, it takes a lot of divine intervention to get them on the right path to happily ever after.
Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade is a book filled with classic romantic themes–friends to lovers, a secret baby, a marriage of inconvenience–and classic biblical themes–forgiveness, sacrifice, repentance, prodigal son (or daughter). Ms. Wade does a wonderful job of blending together the tropes of contemporary romance and the tenets of faith here. Ty and Celia’s story, while the circumstances might not be as common, is a common story: two people, in the middle of the first throes of infatuation, do something they both come to bitterly regret and spend a long time either punishing themselves for or paying for. Yet, God is still able to use those things to accomplish His purposes.
I thought the characters in Meant to Be Mine were well written. Even though there were times I wanted to shake both Ty and Celia, I could see where both of them were coming from. They felt like real people grappling with a difficult situation. The supporting characters, particularly their daughter Addie and Uncle Danny, were well written and added to the story. I loved Addie’s obsession with civic minded princesses who found their princes, and Uncle Danny’s surfer mentality and pursuit of a foreign bride brought much needed levity.
The only character I didn’t like was Tawny. I couldn’t get a good read on her. I knew what both Ty and Celia thought of her, but her motivations were completely lost on me. Whenever I see a character that is somehow in play for a main character’s affection, I think of My Best Friend’s Wedding and 2 Dresses. I either expect to like the character and feel a bit bad for her (MBFW) or I really don’t like them (27D). Every now and then, I know they are spoiled and conniving, but they have some good characteristics under there somewhere (a la The Wedding Date). I got none of those from Tawny. She felt more like a plot device, which was noticeable more because everyone else was so clearly depicted.
Ms. Wade did a good job of interweaving the faith element and making God’s footprints visible in the story. I liked how we saw how both Ty and Celia felt about faith in their lives, and that their relationships with God weren’t perfect, but a work in progress. The supporting characters who impacted their faith showed how God uses others to reach us and demonstrate His love to us. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story.
I would recommend Meant to Be Mine to anyone who likes to see two characters who get themselves into a hopeless tangled mess that only the Lord can get them out of, with the help of a little girl, an old surfer, a crotchety donut shop owner, and a whole lot of Porters.
Meant to be Mine: A- for strong faith element, compelling story, and wonderful characters, outside of Tawny.
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