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Saturday, July 24, 2010

My review of Loving Bella by Renee Ryan.

Loving Bella (Love Inspired Historical)

About the book:

She Was Talented, Famous, Successful…But when a scandalous offer ruined it all, Isabella O'Toole escaped her life as a celebrated opera singer and sought refuge in Denver, Colorado. Working as an assistant to Dr. Shane Bartlett is worlds away from her glamorous old life—and she loves it. Loves the work, loves the chance to reconnect with her family and her faith…and slowly begins to love the handsome doctor, as well. Until her dark secret finds her again, threatening her new life—and her chance for Shane's heart.

My review:

Loving Bella was a historical romance I won't soon forget. And for a Love Inspired Historical, I found it surprisingly edgy when it came to subject matter. Bella had been seeing a man (year 1885 in London), but she didn't realize he was married. When he asked her to be his mistress, she broke it off. Thankfully she hadn't given herself to him yet. She left London, the Viscount, and the stage where she was a well-known opera singer and went to live with her brother in Colorado.

Overwhelming guilt followed her across the ocean and she emotionally berated herself for being duped by a married man and falling for him. She was also angry with herself for not seeing the signs and for allowing her heart to care so much she worried she wouldn't be able to resist him if she stayed in London (see what I mean by edgy?) It wasn't until she met a frontier doctor who worked with orphans and prostitutes that she started to see the world differently.

Bella learned to give of herself when she teamed up with the handsome doctor, Shane Bartlett, as his assistant. She, in turn, focused less on her own issues and grief. Despite all the progress she'd made, in the end she still felt guilty even though she hadn't actually done anything with the Viscount. Through time, service to the unwanted people in Colorado, friendship with Shane, and a variety of other circumstances, Bella learned to forgive herself. Her friendship with the doctor grew daily until they both learned to trust more, and ultimately developed a strong bond. Several times I was so emotionally involved in the story I got choked up.

Loving Bella made me cheer for the characters, and in all the right ways. This story wasn't just a romance, but a story of deep emotional growth, and of the beauty of learning to forgive oneself. This novel was a tender, healing portrayal of how God will use what the enemy meant for harm, but God will use it for the good. I loved how the characters made decisions that were sometimes hard for them, but they did it out of love for others rather than selfish intentions. Those types of scenarios in books always inspire me. I highly recommend this novel, especially to women who struggle with forgiving themselves. Because this is the best Love Inspired book I've ever read (and I've read over a hundred to date) this book is making my top fiction for 2010 list.


Susan Anne Mason said...

I totally agree with your review, Michelle!

I read this book a couple of weeks ago and couldn't believe how good it was! I even searched out the author's website to find more books by her.

I highly recommend this book and this author!

Sue Mason

Martha A. said...

I am going to have to look for this one to buy. i like to buy the good Love inspired historicals!

Unknown said...

This one really speaks to me loudly that I'd enjoy every word. I love historical romance and will need to put it on my to read's getting higher! Great review!

Blessings in Christ,
Barb Shelton

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