Okay, so I am a little late in getting this put together and posted. Back in January, I had the opportunity to read an ARC of Crystal Walton’s Begin Again and post a review on the release date of the book which was February 8th. I thought for sure I could read it and review it on time even though I was pregnant with a due date of February 8th, we were packing to move, closing on a new house January 27th, and moving the day after we closed. Looking back, I think I must have been crazy to think I could do all that and have the book read and the review ready to post on time. I did get to read the book, but was unable to find time to write a review and get it posted while having a sweet baby girl and adjusting to life with 7 kids instead of 6. Things haven’t really slowed down yet. In fact, we’ve added baseball and softball practices and games to the mix, but somehow, I have finally managed to find a little space of time to write my review and get it posted. I am sorry, Crystal Walton, that I wasn’t able to get it ready for release day, but I hope this review makes up for that. 🙂
To start, let me mention that this is the second book in a series. You can check out the first book, Write Me Home, here. It’s another great read! While I definitely recommend reading it, it isn’t absolutely necessary to read it before you read Begin Again.
Now for a little bit about Begin Again and then I’ll share my thoughts with you.
A single call is all it takes to drive artist Ti Russo into what she does best. Run. But hey, lying low in a beach town for a while isn’t so bad. Thanks to the distraction of playing consultant to a guy she’s determined to crack, she can almost forget about the past stalking her back home. But she never counted on the real danger being a picket-fenced life she has no business falling for.
Focus and self-preservation have gotten single dad Drew Anderson through the last nine years. With the threat of his shop’s foreclosure jeopardizing his daughter’s health care, the last thing he needs is a distracting hippie chick swooping in to shake up what he’s fought to protect. Including himself. The bank’s deadline adds enough pressure without re-risking feelings better left buried.
But as sparks flare and secrets escalate, the race against time propels Ti and Drew into a choice neither’s ready to make: Find the faith to surrender their past or forfeit their only chance to begin again.
Crystal Walton has a talent for writing realistic and broken characters with hurts and hangups that are so like the ones that real people face that you can’t help but be drawn into her books. Begin Again shows that talent clearly with both Ti and Drew having painful histories that affect how they live now. Thankfully, Ms. Walton doesn’t leave her characters broken and fragmented, but rather offers them a chance at beginning again, of finding home, hope, and redemption. AND I love the journey she takes you on with them as they find it, in discovering who they are, what makes them tick, why they are the way they are. You hurt for them as the unhealed aches from their pasts are slowly revealed.
Drew and Ti both are living trapped in lives that are significantly affected by their pasts and not in a good way. They’re viewpoints are skewed by what’s happened in their lives and they seem to clash when they first meet. Little by little, interaction by interaction, the walls they’ve built start to come down and they begin to discover that there’s a whole lot more to each other than they first thought. I loved the anticipation in waiting for those junctures where they start to see that there’s more to the other than just their differences and the things that seem to frustrate them about each other. There are many deep, meaningful moments as they let each other in and as they come face to face with their pasts. One is a heart grabbing scene where Ti nestles back into Drew’s arms and it’s like she’s coming home. With that one scene alone, Ms. Walton conveys that Drew is Ti’s home before she ever uses the words to say it.
Ti’s been running restlessly from her past for a long time, traveling to many places and doing a lot of different things in her life when in reality she doesn’t need all the world she’s seen. She needs peace, peace with her past that she will only find when she stops running, peace that she just might find with Drew. Drew has his own situation that he needs to make peace with. They’ve both tried soothing their wounds with balms that only work temporarily, that only push the pain back for a season. There’s only One who can truly heal those wounds, but they have to come to a place of facing the hurts instead of running from them. Through facing them, He offers freedom from the things that hold them back and hope to move forward. Begin Again is just that—a story of two people finding that freedom and hope and finding home in each other.
I have to take a quick second to mention that on this journey with Drew and Ti, I met several other characters that I loved just as much as them. Grandma Jo is so wonderfully filled with love, compassion, and wisdom. Maddie is an insightful and precious little girl. Not to mention Cooper and Livy. I only hope that we get to meet up with them again in some future books of Ms. Walton’s.
**I received a free ARC from the author. All opinions are my own.