On Tour with Prism Book Tours
The Truth Between Us
By Tammy L. Gray
Inspirational Contemporary Romance
ebook, 252 Pages
July 12th 2018
Nine years to win her. Three years to love her. And one decision that destroyed it all.
April Duncan was raised with three clear truths: the family name is absolute, ambition and success rule over every emotion, and love always comes with strings attached. Image was everything in her carefully crafted world… until the mirror cracked.
Sean Taylor was April’s best friend, the one man who taught her it was okay to let her guard down and to rely on someone. She trusted him. She loved him. Which made his deception the darkest kind of cruelty.
Now, nearly a year later, she’s ready to leave her failed engagement in the past and get back her life and her estranged family, even if it means dating a man solely for his connections. She’ll never again choose love over loyalty.
Sean has spent his entire life breaking barriers, facing challenges, and never giving up. Until one impossible choice destroyed his future and left him no option but to flee from the woman who annihilated his heart.
Now he’s back in Bentwood and determined to make her hear the truth and rebuild the trust he shattered. But April has become a mere shell of the woman who claimed his heart long ago.
Winning her back is more than just seizing a victory, because if he fails… the girl he’s loved for a lifetime will disappear forever.
The Truth Between Us is the second book in the Bentwood series. Each book can be read as a standalone, but it is recommended that you begin with book one to get the full experience among this tight group of family and friends.
Tammy L. Gray is one of my go-to authors when I want a story of real life and all the grit that can accompany it. While her stories capture the struggle of real so well, they also always offer hope. They never end with despair having the last word. Her Bentwood Series is raw and real and full of hope. In The Truth Between Us*, the second book of the Bentwood Series, Ms. Gray excels yet again at capturing the pain, the angst, the hurt, the doubt of her characters and their journeys to move beyond that. There is such thorough character development and growth that’s not glossed over filling the pages of this book.
I’m going to be honest and say that I spent a good portion of the book not liking April much. In fact, more than once, I really just wanted to have a little sit down with her and lay some things out for her. She is a complex character that there’s so much more to, but it was hard to see that for a while. Most of her actions, and many times her thought processes as well, made me want to shake her. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a character so blinded to the truth, so blinded to what’s good and what’s bad in her life to the point of having them completely reversed, so blinded to her own hypocrisy even.
The way April thinks and deals with things and the way her family treats her is so unhealthy and dysfunctional, and yet in her mind as the story begins, her relationship with Sean was the unhealthy one. Her parents have most definitely done a number on he. So much so that some of the really good parts of her have been crushed under the weight of their demands and their treatment. April reaches a place of even rejecting the unconditional love of Sean, and to an extent that of her friends, in an attempt to obtain a just minuscule portion of conditional “love” (can’t even really call it love because it’s so far from what real love is) from her parents. The loneliness April faces, the pain she feels are, in some ways, self imposed, not in the way that her parents want her to believe, but in that she pushes away the people who really love her without condition, the ones who want to love her and be there with her through her struggles.
April is more than a bit hypocritical. Acting like her parents do toward her, April punishes her friends when they make choices she doesn’t like regarding Sean. There are times when she uses her words and their own feelings to manipulate them into doing what she wants. While accusing her friends of betrayal and of not telling her the truth, she ignores the ways she has not trusted them with the truth and the ways she has betrayed them.
For much of the book it was hard to like April, but the fact that Sean kept fighting so hard for the real her to be free made me believe that there must be more to her. The love Sean must have for her to go after her when she’s done everything she can to destroy them and when there are only meager flashes of the real her left is a testament to what real Love is like. Sean sees April, who she really is—the hopeful child that tries to hide under all the ice cold attempts to intimidate others so she doesn’t have to feel the rejection she’s felt most of her life. He sees that the way she lashes out means she’s hurting, that it’s her attempt to protect herself, and that even when she tries to manipulate others, she’s often doing so to try to protect herself. It doesn’t make anything she’s done right, but it does help us understand that there’s more going on than someone just being cold and mean. Over the course of the book, I was able to see that, in a way, April didn’t know how else to act, didn’t know how else to love, how else to be because of the manipulation she’d experienced at the hands of her parents her whole life and how they preyed on her need for their love, acceptance, and approval. And it made me see how much it would hurt for the one person she’s come to trust and depend on to never do that to her, to do that, in a sense, by not telling her the truth until it seemed like it was too late.
As frustrating as April’s character was and as much as I hated the way she treated people sometimes, I can see that she had to come to a breaking point to be set free. That all of the hard things in the book had to happen for April to see the truth, for the blinders to be ripped from her eyes, for her to see who she was becoming and that it wasn’t someone she wanted to be, for her to begin to see that there is Someone who has the power and the ability to really love her unconditionally. Seeing that the painful things had to happen for her eyes to be opened reminds me that the tough things in life, the ones that hurt the most, God can use those to work in us—to draw us to Him, to make us into new creations, to make us into better versions of ourselves, to set us free from the things that trap us.
And now I can see the potential in April. No, some aspects of her personality probably won’t disappear—her fierceness, her unwavering loyalty, her strength, her passion, her stubbornness—but they will be changed and redirected to be used in great ways rather than in ways that cause hurt. I have no doubt that, though she won’t be perfect, she will make an amazing friend as she grows in the freedom she’s gained and becomes who God intended for her to be. And though I know her role in the next book will be as a supporting character, I still can’t wait to see the change her, to see the difference in how she acts, and to see who she will become. Now that the book is over, I can see what untapped potential there is in April, a reminder of what truth accompanied by love and grace can do for even the prickliest of people. As I ruminate over this story, I am overwhelmed by the way God allowed the trial Sean and April faced to strip them of the faux pearl version of their relationship as it was, and through it, brought them into the lavishness of a real pearl kind of relationship, how they both now are awarded a deeper relationship with each other and a greater richness of character in each other that just needed to be unbound.
Before I go, I want to quickly mention Caroline who is again a supporting character as she was in the first book. I really appreciated her character in The Truth Between Us for a couple of reasons in particular. For one, just as Sean helped me finally see more to April, Caroline did as well. She was a lot more patient with April than I think I would have been, a convicting reminder of how to love patiently. Between the two of them, my heart softened toward April and they helped me to see the real her better. And two, while Caroline has a quiet strength that draws the “Bentwood Brats” to her, she still struggles and has a past and I appreciate that Ms. Gray shows that. It gives hope that even though we are imperfect, we can still trust the Lord, and by doing so, point people to Jesus.
There’s an abundance of depth and richness and beauty to this book and the series it’s in, to its characters and their relationships, and to the themes present throughout. I’m very much looking forward to revisiting all these characters that tug on my heartstrings, that make me think, and that have become real to me in Ms. Gray’s next addition to the Bentwood Series.
Don’t forget to check out some of my favorite quotes from the book, more information about Ms. Gray, links to the other blog stops on this tour, and the giveaway info below!
*As mentioned above, The Truth Between Us is the second book in the series, and although I think you could probably read it without having read the first one, I think you’d be missing out on a bigger picture if you did. I highly recommend reading them all and reading them in order for the best effect. If you’d like to know what I thought of the first book, you can check that out here.
**I received a copy of this book from the author and have chosen to review it. My opinions are my own.
Other Books in the Series
Until I Knew Myself
By Tammy L. Gray
Inspirational Contemporary Romance
ebook, 264 Pages
March 8th 2018
RITA Award-winning author Tammy L. Gray delivers an unforgettable new series following five struggling friends in search of the true meaning of family through secrets, betrayal and the unexpected influence of an outsider…
Tyler Mitchell grew up an orphan, taken in by his best friend’s family when he was only sixteen. Even though ten years have passed, and he’s been given everything he should ever want—a loving home, an adoring girlfriend, a successful career, and lifelong friendships—Tyler has always felt a foreigner in his own life.
When a surprising phone call reveals the death of his biological grandfather, Tyler’s seemingly perfect life starts to unravel. The people he loves most in world have kept from him the greatest secret of all—knowledge of his father’s family.
Now hunting for more information about his past, Tyler discovers nothing is quite as it seems. And the definition of family is far more complicated than choosing between blood and loyalty.
About the Author
Tammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas, even the erratic weather patterns. She writes modern Christian romance with true-to-life characters and culturally-relevant plot lines. She believes hope and healing can be found through high quality fiction that inspires and provokes change.
Her characters are real, relatable and deep, earning her a 2017 RITA award in the Romance with Religious and Spiritual Elements category.
When not chasing after her three amazing kids, Tammy can be spotted with her head in a book. Writing has given her a platform to combine her passion with her ministry.
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Among the Reads
– 1 winner will receive a Kindle ebook of UNTIL I NEW MYSELF, book one in The Brentwood Series, and a $10 Amazon eGift Card
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