Book Review: Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart

Posted July 18, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Heart Land by  Kimberly Stuart

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart
Genres: Inspirational Romance, Cozy Romance
Published by Howard Books on July 17, 2018
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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A standalone novel of reconnection and rediscovering what’s truly important in your life.

This ARC was sent to me by NetGalley and Howard Books and Simon & Schuster for an honest review.

My Take

Oh, this was so, so lovely. I was riveted, especially with that opening hook, lol. Okay, part of the love may have been Grace’s passion for design and sewing such beautiful creations, as it reflects my own love for clothing and creating, so fair warning *grin*

Yes, it’s a Christian novel, and the first one where I didn’t feel hit over the head with it. Absolutely lovely. The characters are amazing, and exactly the kind of people you want around you…even a few of those New Yorkers *more grinning* Stuart’s descriptions of the setting and Tucker’s fears were emotionally evocative.

A good part of the inspirational is Grace’s desire [and mission] to help the people of her small town, of the whole state, of Gigi’s encouragement, Tucker’s honesty and wholehearted support, and the help from their friends — and that’s what truly makes someone a Christian.

It was obvious what the “bad” guy’s actions would be, and the journey to and through it was still a compulsive need on my part to follow the naive Grace’s journey to enlightenment. It’s a passage we all should pursue, of reflection on one’s self, the good, the bad. I sure loved it when Gigi would point out the positives of all those negatives Grace focused on from her perspective in first person protagonist point-of-view! Another trick we should remember when we’re thinking of all those personal negatives, is to try and list a positive for each negative. You’ll be amazed how quickly the positives outweigh the other!

LOL, Pete’s comments about Tucker’s disposition and appearance…omigod…I can’t help but love the honest transparency.

Disclaimer: These quotes may not end up in the final publication, but they’re too good to ignore!

“‘Remember clogs and how we hate them”‘

‘I do remember. A sister never forgets.’

‘I’m leaving the sisterhood. …”

“You also remind me of her when you pout. That part isn’t quite as sweet and precious.”

There are a number of small treats in here that add to the whole. How wonderful Grace’s parents sound! Grace’s enthusiam for food, lol, she is a treat! That subtle explanation of Gigi’s 70s-era sewing — very nice. And Flyover, *laughing*; I love, love, love the inspiration for the name. The lesson Grace learned from her job at Milano, and how she tries to change that atmosphere. Oh, yeah… I also enjoyed that background on how those ad campaigns are put together. Hmmm…

That twist in Grace’s job hunt was brilliant, and the concept raised all sorts of excitement for me, thinking of where Grace and Gigi could go with it. Of course, the betrayals brought that necessary emotional conflict into the story. I was in tears at the end!

Oh, wow, do take special note of Grace’s “elevator speech” at the end. It was inspired and brilliant…I’m takin’ notes!

If you need a quality cozy romance with this blend of past history, current events, and future dreams…pick this up!

The Story

Grace knows this is the start of something big, of where her dream will finally be realized…until that dream is cut short.

When Gigi calls with an invitation, being broke with no job sends Grace flying home, desperate to get back to that dream. One she realizes in a totally unexpected way that engages her grandmother and her friends.

And Tucker. He was perfect, just not enough to override Grace’s dream until he begins to share his own experience in trying out the big city, causing Grace to reflect, to compare.…

The Characters

Grace “Iowa” Kleren is from small town Silver Creek with big dreams that require New York City. The independent Georgina “Gigi” Hanson is Grace’s wonderfully supportive and, lol, very sociable — oh yeah, baby, boom-shakka-lakka! — grandmother who runs an informal dress business. Nigel is Gigi’s phone.

Tucker Van Es, a successful building contractor, had been Grace’s boyfriend for years before she up and left ten years ago. Pete Miller is one of his men. His uncle Sal is struggling with his cattle farm. Natalie Connors is an incredible defense attorney and his girlfriend.

Goldie is Gigi’s best friend and sidekick who is technologically savvy and quite the colorful *eyebrow waggle* lady who runs Goldie’s Emporium at the flea market. Goldie’s husband, Frank, has had his problems. Madge and Bev are widowed twins who finish each other’s sentences. Myrna Hopkins, the front door greeter at church, has more important things on her mind. Edna Kuiken had been the English teacher.

Sewing Club is every Tuesday night in the fellowship hall. Flyover is an amazingly successful business that adds Irma and Gert from First Methodist and Shirley from Silver Creek Reformed to the line.

Small-town life means you know everyone, as Grace takes us on a nostalgic tour of the McCullough farm, the Williams’ split-level, that repaint punishment at Jenna Gray‘s, the game at the Achenbachs‘ with the enthusiastic Alex Nichols, the home where she grew up, the Chickadee owned by Martin where Grace waitressed in high school, that lively Morrison barn.

The school where Matthews was principal and that the bitchy Erin Jackson (her husband, Les, had an unfortunate event with his Harley), David Beloit‘s crayon habits, “Two-Ton Tillie” Markers who is trying to change her past, where Hunter Olsen had been the real valedictorian, and Dan DePhillips who got into a fight were fellow students.

Mr Jenkins runs a portable donut stand. Roger runs the hardware store (I think he might be Goldie’s nephew). Sofia works at La Condesa, a fabulous Mexican restaurant…sorry, I need to break for lunch…that food sounds too good! Beatriz Molina is either the chef there or the owner…or both. Miss Evelyn who runs the post office can’t help but run the numbers. Callie Downing thinks cats love her. The Hardings had run a bookstore for three generations. Cassie Velton had run a clothes shop, while Marv’s Hardware…well, ‘nuf said. Old Mr McNeely has a grudge against Grace and Tucker. Pastor Simpson is with Gigi’s church.

The Anthem is a restaurant in LaGrange. Betty Lou’s Window Show is closed now. Blanche works at Triad Fabrics and Textiles in Omaha where Lorraine is her sub.

New York City
Milano is a premier fashion house where Grace has slaved for the past six years as a design assistant. Isa is one of Grace’s best friends whom she met at the Fashion Institute of Technology and who started as a junior visual merchandiser. Luca Beneventi is another friend, an Italian who is all about the clothes and…oops…I think his Yorkie, Yolo, is even more important than the clothes, lol. Anyway, Luca is the technical designer who puts the designs into action.

James Campbell is Grace’s Harvard Business School-educated boss and sweet on her. Nancy Strang is the formidable head of fashion design and James’ boss. Buckley is Nancy’s admin. Javi is a senior designer. Akeyo is a model.

Saffron is a new fashion company where Moira will be an assistant, Chase and Eleanor are assistant designers, and the investors are Suzanne Billings, Michelle Epstein, and Max Grundwald (his wife, Julia, raves about the designs; her friends include Sophie/Sophia, Joyce/Joy, Maria, Janice, and Gwyneth). Hedda Lang is the formidable daughter of Lionel Lang, the owner of Solomon’s, a venerated and fashionable department store chain. Agnes is her assistant; Claude is the accounting guru. Aaron De Castro is the senior fashion buyer for Solomon’s.

Noemi is James’ personal chef and followed by Jean-Luc. Amelia had been the wonderfully inspirational nanny. Gianni, an old friend of James’ mother, works at GQ. Tatiana works at Second to None, the best consignment store in the city. Catwalk is an online fashion magazine everyone wants into. The Gansevoort Hotel is too fabulous for words.

The Cover and Title

The cover is an intensity of color where a sweetly dressed Grace is holding hands with a casually dressed Tucker standing on a country road with their backs to us, absorbed by the view of the plains before them under a lightly royal blue sky with their own Midwest aurora borealis above them. The title is angled across the top third in a scripted white with the author’s name at the name in a pale yellow that complements the three lit candle pillars, two at their feet and one in Grace’s hand. Just looking at this cover is enough to soothe and bring peace to my heart.

The title is where Grace finally finds herself, in her Heart Land.

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