Both The Family Journal and Heard it in a Love Song were a combination of Women’s Fiction and Romance. They had women making decisions about their lives as well as deciding what they wanted out of that life. Yes, there is romance and love involved, but that is not all there is in these stories. I did read/listens with both of them and enjoyed both formats.
The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown, Brittany Pressley (Narrator)
Published November 12th 2019 by Montlake Romance
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I am a huge fan of Carolyn Brown’s books about family and friendship. In The Family Journal, Lily Anderson is getting frustrated. As a single mom, divorced but with no help from her ex-husband, she is tired of her children getting into trouble. The most recent incident of drinking and/or smoking marijuana, has her taking away her children’s technology, including their cell phones, as moving to the small town where she grew up. She inherited her grandparents farm when they passed, but is renting it out to a local teacher/farmer, Mack Cooper, a friend from her childhood. She and her two children, 14 year old Holly and 12 year old Braden, move in and share the house with Mack. Mack is great with her kids and they begin to thaw with their mother and small town life in Comfort, Texas. When Lily finds a journal that has been written in for many generations by the women in the family, Lily shares it with Lily and they realize that their family is full of strong women. Meanwhile, Mack is fighting his growing feelings toward Lily. Mack has low self-esteem due to his brother who married two of his girlfriends and parents who never supported him or chastised his brother. He has never felt good enough, but he cares about this family he is sharing a home with. Can they grow together as a family and come to realize what is really important?
This was Carolyn Brown’s 100th book and I am not surprised that so many of them were best sellers. I love her writing style, it is so honest, relatable and easy to immerse yourself in. The characters in this book are well developed and realistic. I loved almost all of them except Lily’s ex, Wyatt, his selfish girlfriend and Mack’s narcissistic brother. Of course that was supposed to happen. Lily’s kids were typical of kids today in big cities, so it was awesome to see them change as they lived in Comfort and became comfortable with life and what made everyone happy. Of course the romance is there, but it is slowly developed and is not the main storyline. Even in small towns there is some adjusting, some bullying, trying to fit in and make friends and finding your place which was all part of the story. This is an uplifting story about family connections, finding what is important in life, making peace with your past, forgiving others but not letting them hurt you again, and finding love. This is all done with a Christian undertone, and using a family journal. I did a read/listen with Brittany Pressley narrating. I have listened to many books she has performed and always enjoy them. She is a narrator that I have come to expect an enjoyable experience with. Both formats, audio and ebook, were enjoyable and I recommend either of them. I definitely recommend this one to lovers of Christian Women’s Fiction mixed with romance.
Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves, Andi Arndt (Narrator)
Published November 2nd 2021 by Macmillan Audio, St. Martin’s Press
Layla Hilding is a 35 year old divorced woman who is a music teacher at the local elementary school. She is trying to find herself and get back to playing and singing, the one thing she loved growing up, and the thing she gave up when she married ten years earlier. Josh is a single dad whose daughter attends the school where Layla teaches music. He is recently separated, after twenty years of marriage, and he is still processing all the changes. When he drops his daughter off at school each day, he chats with Layla and they become friends. Both are hesitant to start a relationship, but they are attracted to one another. When two people are on the rebound, is it heartbreak or happiness that’s a love song away?
This is the first book I have read by Tracey Garvis Graves, but I will be checking out her backlist. I really enjoyed this low-key, slow burn romance, but it is more than just a romance. I enjoyed getting to know Layla, Josh, Sasha and their dog, Norton. This isn’t a story with a lot of angst, although there is a bit, but a story of finding your way when your life changes, drastically. I loved that Layla and Josh were mature characters (emotionally not age wise). They were not into the dating scene, the apps, the drama, but quietly went about their lives getting to know each other and figuring out the next steps. I loved how supportive he was towards Layla’s musical dreams, very different from her ex. Josh’s family was somewhat disappointed in his choice of career, but he was not going to be bullied into doing something he didn’t want to do. He was great at his job and made a great living for himself and Sasha when she was with him. The story is told from both POVs with some past memories, but I was able to follow along with no problems. I was hooked on their lives and seeing what was next for them. A beautifully written story with deep meanings and decisions, but it wasn’t a heavy read. I enjoyed reading about their journey to self fulfillment and building a relationship together. If you enjoy a book that will make you think while you read about lives that are undergoing change, then pick this one up. I had trouble deciding what genre this fits. I agree that there are elements of Women’s Fiction and Romance, but it is also about life, relationships and self-discover. I did a read/listen with this book. I loved Andi Arndt’s narration. She does a beautiful job of performing this lyrical story. I found I enjoyed both formats, but did gravitate to the ebook as it enabled me to read a bit quicker than the audiobook. I recommend both formats depending on your preference.