MADE TO LAST (Where Love Begins, Book #1)
Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: September 15, 2013
From the back cover:
Miranda Woodruff, star of the homebuilding show “From the Ground Up,” will do anything to keep the job she loves. Due to a painful broken engagement and a faith she’s mostly forgotten, she’s let her entire identity become wrapped up in the Miranda everyone sees onscreen. So when she receives news that the network might cancel her program, she must do the very thing she fears most: let the spotlight shine on her closely guarded personal life. The only problem? She’s been living a lie–letting viewers believe she’s married–and now she’s called upon to play wife to a sweet, if a bit goofy, pretend husband to boost ratings.
Desperate to help his family and prove he’s not a total failure, reporter Matthew Knox is looking for a breakout story. When he’s offered the opportunity to do an online serial feature on Miranda Woodruff, he jumps at the chance, even if celebrity reporting isn’t really his thing. But as soon as he meets Miranda, he knows she’s keeping secrets.
When Miranda’s former fiance suddenly appears on the scene again, she doubts her life could get more complicated. Juggling three guys, an on-the-rocks television show, and the potential exposure of her deception is way more than she bargained for. Can the woman who makes things look so good onscreen admit it’s time to tell the truth about who she is? And if she does, will the life Miranda’s built come crashing down just as she’s finally found a love to last?
I often find myself shying away from contemporary inspirational romance. It doesn’t seem to hold my interest as much as books in the historical genre do, and most times I find authors throwing in exaggerated quirky characters that are supposed to be charming (but often border on annoying) rather than penning a plot that is compelling and real.
I picked up MADE TO LAST by Melissa Tagg because the blurb intrigued me, there seemed to be inherent humor in the plot (not forced) and I loved the idea of a female Tim Taylor from the old Home Improvement sitcom (dating myself here, I know!). I half expected to lose interest quickly and lament why I’d agreed to review it in the first place, but before I knew it, I was flipping through the pages, desperate to know how Miranda’s scheme was going to fall apart on her!
The thing about Melissa Tagg is she does humor the right way, making situations both emotional and funny and making readers wait for the payoff instead of throwing in a bunch of zinging one liners that are there strictly to “make ’em laugh”. Sure, she has her own quirky character in Miranda’s fake husband, Blake (Blaze) Hunziker, but she manages to keep him real by giving him a compelling and mysterious backstory.
Miranda is just the kind of heroine that makes for the best story. She’s tough on the outside, but vulnerable on the inside. She’s been burned by love and that hurt has caused her to live a lie, which in turn, has caused her to distance herself from God, believing she is beyond redemption. Too often contemporary inspirational heroines are written as perfect and God-fearing — not that there’s anything wrong with that — but Miranda’s flaws make her just like us. We all make mistakes and bad choices and struggle to figure out how to get back on track with our life.
And then Matthew comes into the picture. This down-on-his-luck reporter has suffered some major setbacks and failures in his career and his life, but he believes one breakout story featuring America’s hottest home improvement star can turn his luck around. Like Miranda, Matthew has his own demons to wrestle with. He’s made mistakes and feels undeserving of God’s forgiveness, but as he starts to fall for Miranda, he begins to realize his worth in God’s eyes.
Bottom line, I really enjoyed this debut by Melissa Tagg. Filled with humor and emotion and a message of redemption, MADE TO LAST does not disappoint. I look forward to Blaze’s story, HERE TO STAY in May 2014!