Disclaimer: Paper Hearts, by Courtney Walsh, is a review copy provided by Tyndale. Therefore, the format of this review will deviate from my normal blog review format.
“Abigail Pressman never would have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could challenge her doubts about romance. A business owner in a quaint tourist town, she dreams of expanding. But lately, she’s more focused on resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark.
When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease.
As she fights a growing attraction to this man intent on crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts arrives, it appear something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts, or could it rescue her dreams…and her heart?”
Paper Hearts is fairly cute and fairly funny and while it’s not a fantastic novel by any means, it is a pretty decent one. It’s well-written (even though the writing sounds remarkably similar to both the two other books I’ve reviewed from Tyndale and several other adult books I’ve read; I don’t know why all adult books written by women sound the same) and the romance is nicely set-up and developed.
I do wish the plot as a whole hadn’t been so predictable; I guessed fairly early on exactly how Abigail and Jacob would end up together. It’s incredibly obvious who the writers of the hearts are as soon as Abigail pulls them out of the box and it’s incredibly obvious how Abigail and Jacob will get over the “challenge” of the renovation conflict. I also didn’t particularly like the overused trope of “Rude, Pushy Woman Who Exists To Make Love Interest Jealous.” But, the romance, as I mentioned above, was decent, even though Jacob was a bit too squishy for my liking. (I also hate the “she doesn’t know she’s pretty” trope, which is mentioned about every single time Jacob looks at Abigail).
The book focuses a lot on suffering and essentially the problem of evil, and Walsh does deal with that pretty well. I think she could have elaborated a bit more on Jacob’s return to God in the wake of Gwen’s death, but she did a good job of showing Jacob’s thought process throughout. I thought she ended up hand-waving a bit at the end, though, and explaining everything away with the Power of Love (as in, it’s insinuated that Jacob begins to accept and understand his past suffering better because he fell in love with Abigail, as if the act of falling in love gets rid of issues like that) but besides that, everything else was nicely done.
Also, as a single woman, I resent the implication made that single women are bitter and secretly longing for a man. I know that Walsh wasn’t intentionally trying to making that point, but when all the single women in the novel are either bitter or throwing themselves at the available guy, then something is going to come across, whether you mean it or not.
Overall, Paper Hearts was decent, with a fairly good romance and a mostly-good handling of suffering. I did wish that there was less predictability in terms of plot and character, and some of the implications that the novel makes, whether intentionally or not, were a little aggravating.
Genre: Realistic, Christian
You can buy this here: Paper Hearts