Sunday, September 22, 2013

Made to Last.

The premise of Melissa Tagg's debut novel, Made to Last, drew me in from the very beginning. A famous lady who is living a lie by pretending to be married? My first thought was, This sounds like Christmas in Connecticut! And Christmas in Connecticut just happens to be my favorite Christmas movie and one of my favorite classic films ever.

In the film, it's a columnist for a home magazine pretending she's married, has a child, and can cook like a chef. In this book, Miranda Woodruff is the host of a homebuilding show. She can actually do woodworking and such, but she never told anyone that her live-in boyfriend left her several years ago, before they could get married. She lets everyone believe that she does indeed have a wonderful husband. But when ratings are dropping and her show is in trouble, she has to find a fake husband and keep up the lie in order to boost publicity and save her show.

I did enjoy Made to Last, though perhaps not as much as I expected to. But more on that later. :) Though I read quite a few Christian/inspirational romances, I generally stick with historical fiction. To be honest, I don't read many contemporary novels in this genre at all (with the exception of Jenny B. Jones). So I wasn't sure what exactly to expect! When I was younger, I used to be a bit obsessed with home makeover shows. Trading Spaces was my favorite TV shows for a while. Yeah, I know that's weird. :) But that means this book had something else going for it...the whole homebuilding show aspect of the plot made me feel a bit nostalgic. :)

Anyway, I loved the writing style in this book, and I also enjoyed the occasional classic movie reference. The two main characters, Miranda and Matthew, were likable, despite their flaws and past mistakes. I really loved the relationship between Matthew and his niece. It evened out his character and made me see kindness and sweetness in a person who sometimes could possibly come across as a bit overzealous and annoying. :) Out of the many supporting characters, Blaze was certainly the most memorable and the source of most of the story's humor. :) The romance was sweet, although it was so up-and-down that I wondered if there would ever be a happy ending! {Speaking of romance, the "dance lesson" with twinkling Christmas lights and big band music playing in the background? *swoon*}

(By the way, I was not picturing Matthew as the guy on the cover at all. I assume that is Matthew, anyway? I was thinking of a guy with dark blonde floppy hair...floppy in the way that Bill Pullman's was in "While You Were Sleeping." :) Also, it bugs me that they cut off the top of the guy's head on the cover!)

The pacing was good and there were several twists that kept me guessing how things were going to work out. Sometimes guessing a bit too much. That's the only thing that bothered me about this book- it seriously stressed me out! :) I know that sounds silly, but this wasn't exactly a relaxing read. There were so many characters and back stories and past drama, not to mention trying to keep up with the deception that was currently happening. It was hard to keep everything straight in my mind, and sometimes it just seemed like there was a bit too much going on. And some of the things didn't feel like they really needed to be included, because they ended up not being fleshed out enough. For example, Blaze's mysterious past is alluded to several times, but it's never explained. I kept wondering if it was going to be part of the story, but it wasn't. And the whole Delia Jones thing also seemed to clutter up the story unnecessarily.

Despite the busyness of the story, I did enjoy it. I won't be so hesitant about reading more contemporary Christian fiction now. And I hear there's going to be a follow up to this novel next year, which I'm excited about. I'll be glad to spend some more time with these characters and maybe have a few loose ends tied up!
"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 fiancé 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?" -Summary from Goodreads
*Note: I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.*


  1. Great review! I absolutely loved this book! As for Blaze's past not being revealed-book 2 is his story so it kinda needed to be saved for that!

  2. Woo-hoo! Glad that you, overall enjoyed this book, Kristin! I just started reading it and while I'm not very far into it, I am confident this one is going to be a keeper. :)

    Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts!


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