Posted in 5 Stars, Book Review

Review: Stay With Me by Carolyn Astfalk

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Genre: Contemporary Romance, Religious & Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Full Quiver Publishing
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Formats Available: Kindle, Paperback

Summary:

With her sister Abby’s encouragement, Rebecca has moved out of their overbearing father’s home. When a chance encounter with Chris ends with an invitation, Rebecca says yes. The authentic way Chris lives his life attracts Rebecca and garners her affection.

Chris loves Rebecca and her innocence, but he’s confounded by the emotional scars she bears from her parents and an attempted assault. Her father’s disdain for Chris’s faith and career only make matters worse. 

With the counsel of their friend Father John, can Rebecca and Chris overcome every obstacle and bridge the deepening gulf between them and her dad? Or will a crucial lapse in judgment and its repercussion end their relationship? 

MY RATING: 📚 📚 📚 📚 📚

Disclaimer: I am acquainted with this author via social media, through mutual membership in a large online writing group. This in no way detracts from the honesty of my review.

Stay With Me stayed in my to-be-read pile for quite a while before I finally got around to reading it. I don’t usually read straight romance or inspirational fiction. But I grew to admire Ms. Astfalk’s online presence, both on her blog/website and through conversations in our online writing group, so I finally bit the bullet and started in on her debut novel.

I wish I hadn’t put it off so long. This book has almost everything I’m looking for in a romance. Chris and Rebecca are well-rounded characters who have flaws but work past those flaws in order to love each other. What begins as a simple love story transpires into a complex tapestry about the human experience. Ms. Astfalk manages to tackle big topics like propriety, communication, theology, sex, love, family relations, marriage, and the nature of sin, all within the context of this deceptively light book. Surprisingly, thanks to the author’s deft and talented hand, none of this comes across as heavy-handed or “preachy,” which has largely been my experience in faith-based fiction.

The ways that Chris and Rebecca mess up might have some more ardent readers of this genre raising their eyebrows, but I loved it because it was relatable and real. She handles the subject of repentance and grace so, so much better than other well-known Christian authors does. I wish this book had been around when I was twenty, and I recommend it to all unmarried Christian couples who find themselves struggling with temptation.

The only thing I wish was present in this book was more details about Chris and Rebecca’s courtship early in their story. While we are told they bond quickly over great conversation, the reader is left largely out of the loop when it comes to those conversations. I would have loved to have more insight into those long talks.

Other than that, this book was an absolute joy to read. Ms. Astfalk is supremely talented in her use of emotional language–I think I went through my entire range of feelings in this relatively short read, and I know you will too. Whenever I find myself in need of a good, healthy cry, I know this is the book I’ll turn to.


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About the Author

Carolyn Astfalk lives in Hershey, Pennsylvania where the scent on the morning breeze carries either chocolate or manure depending on wind direction and atmospheric conditions.

A Pittsburgh native, Carolyn carries her Yinzer card with pride, having interned at Pittsburgh’s iconic TV and radio stations KDKA and WDVE. She is a graduate of Duquesne University, where she majored in Latin and Broadcast Journalism.

A cradle Catholic, Carolyn was raised mainly at church basement rummage sales and other parish-sponsored events. She worked her way up to “pup girl” at weekly Bingo and even served as a parish organist for several years. Having reached the apex of parish ministry, she moved to the state capital to advance her churchy career.

Carolyn served as communications director and registered lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference for a decade, advocating for religious liberty; prolife, pro-family issues, Catholic education, and healthcare, among others.

Since then, she has been a stay-at-home mom to her four children. Most days she can be found changing diapers, wiping up spills, folding laundry, and tapping furiously on her laptop.

Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, Pennwriters, the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society, and 10 Minute Novelists.

Connect with Carolyn at her website!

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Author:

Olivia Ard is the author of women's fiction trilogy The Bennett Series and Readers' Favorite 5-Star recipient 'Tis the Season. She is pursuing a second degree in sociology. She and her husband JD live in Central Alabama, where they await their miracle baby's arrival this November with joyful expectation.

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