2 out of 4 stars
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Camille Starlington is in for the surprise of her life when Michael Josephs shows up at her family reunion. After all, Michael isn’t related to any Starlingtons at this celebration. Michael also just happens to be a singer/songwriter superstar with fans all over the country. Neither he nor Camille know what changes their lives are in for when they meet each other in The Way You Love Me, a novel by author Valarie Lovelight.
In this inspirational romance, Michael uses music to cope with the lingering pain from his traumatic childhood. He’s become accustomed to avoiding situations and human connections that may leave him vulnerable. However, Camille is a compassionate woman who believes that love has healing power. She and Michael embark on a friendship that has the potential to become something more. Yet, Michael’s fears threaten to tear down everything he and Camille are building together. Besides, how can their relationship find private space to grow when lights, cameras, gushing fans, and intrusive reporters seem to be around every corner?
Although book covers aren’t always my initial attraction to a novel, this novel’s cover matches the story to a T. It suggests the glitz and glamour of Michael’s career, but not too brightly. A somber quality accompanies the light and color. Likewise, the story itself has an interesting mix of light and darkness. Even with the serious issues the novel addresses, the story never becomes so depressingly dark that it overwhelms the light of hope. Also, instead of tying up the tale where many romance novels end, the author takes Camille and Michael’s story some steps further. It’s as if the reader gets to spend bonus time with the characters, even though the book isn’t especially lengthy.
The writing style in the novel is rather simplistic, and the development is rushed in places. For instance, a character will make a drastic decision without a believable, well-paced progression of emotions before it. The narrator tends to repeat or spell things out for the reader instead of conveying ideas gradually or with more subtlety. This is particularly evident in several references to the abuse in Michael’s past and his present “insecurities.” In storytelling, sometimes less is more. What an author leaves unsaid can be just as intriguing or powerful as what is said, and a good balance between the two will strengthen a novel’s style.
Fittingly, love is the central theme of the novel. The author takes on the task of exploring not only romance but the love and grace found in friends, family, and God. Self-worth is another valuable topic that the novel touches on. However, while it’s important to develop a story’s central theme, it is possible to overdo it. In this book, the theme of love becomes incredibly redundant. The narrator and the characters use the word “love” over and over, until it begins to feel trite and predictable. Again, less could have been more, here.
Moreover, technical errors and inconsistencies appear throughout the novel. Sometimes the characters’ unspoken thoughts are italicized, and other times they aren’t. The spelling of reused words isn’t always consistent. There are incorrectly worded sentences and places where words are missing altogether. There are also many cases of incorrect or missing punctuation, especially missing quotation marks to close out lines of dialogue.
Additionally, it’s possible that a number of readers in this book’s target audience may be uncomfortable with the characters’ language in a few scenes. While not all readers of Christian or inspirational fiction have the same tastes, there are many who’d consider words like “hell” and “damn” to be inappropriate when used in ways other than their literal meanings.
Overall, this is an engaging, inspiring story with clear errors and weaknesses in its style and delivery. Therefore, I give The Way You Love Me a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. While some readers may be distracted by its flaws, other fans of inspirational romance may glean something meaningful from the story’s uplifting message.
The Way You Love Me
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