“Heart Land” by Kimberly Stuart
Published July 17, 2018, by Howard Books
Can you really go home again? That’s what Grace Kleren is hoping after her fashion career in New York goes bust and she is forced to move back in with her grandmother in Iowa. It’s been a decade since she left her small town behind, but Grace tries to pick up where she left off.
Grace’s relationship with her high school sweetheart, Tucker, is quickly rekindled. She revives her flair for design with the help of the local sewing circle, and her new line of dresses is a hit on Etsy. It seems as if the whole community is backing her somehow. But when she is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime by James — the same guy who fired her from Milano — she is forced to make a choice. Will she chase her dreams of success in the design world, or will she stay true to her roots?
I loved the message of faith throughout “Heart Land.” It’s a good, clean Christian romance novel that’s not preachy. The opening scene involving sheep at a fashion photo shoot had me snort-laughing, as did the garbled text messages from Grace’s grandmother, Gigi. The “grannies” back in Grace’s hometown of Silver Creek won my heart and reminded me of some sweet ladies I’ve known over the years.
Grace and Gigi have a relationship that I envy, although I am grateful to have not lost either of my parents so early in life. But I wish my grandma and I had been able to bond as I transitioned into adulthood. Gigi is a wise, bighearted woman who welcomes Grace back home with open arms. What more could a granddaughter ask for?!
I gave “Heart Land” only four stars because I would have liked to see a bit more of a struggle in the redevelopment of Tucker and Grace’s relationship. There just wasn’t enough conflict there. But they were such a cute couple.
If you’re looking for a mostly lighthearted, inspirational read about a woman who knows how to make lemonade from the lemons she’s been handed, “Heart Land” is a great choice.
Some of my favorite quotes are below:
The loss never leaves entirely, you know. We’ve been warned. There’s a verse that says God has placed eternity in our hearts. We weren’t built for this to be the end, so death will never feel quite right. It chafes against the way our souls are wired.
“The Bible will sure as shooting outlast all those horrible “girl books Goldie keeps yammering on about. Orphan girls, girls on trains, girls in cabins, girls gone and not even in the books.” (Gigi) wrinkled her nose. “Give me a good passage from Song of Songs any day of the week.”
I choked on my lemonade and came up sputtering. “Oh, dear Lord, have mercy,” I muttered, shaking my head.
“Ha! Now I’ve got you praying!” Gigi crowed. “I am good.”
Holding the world on your shoulders is a fool’s errand.
It had taken me ten years to reach this place, this moment, and all I wanted was to step into a love that was ferocious and strong. A love that would forgive and bind up the broken pieces. Not a brokenness, I realized with a hitch in my sobs, that God created but one that He was waiting and able to heal.
“You still have all sorts of things. You still have the bright, curious, gifted mind God gave you. You have a hometown full of people who love you. And you have mercies that are new every morning. That’s not my promise, mind you. That’s a promise from God Himself. New morning, new mercies. That’s the deal.”
About the author
Kimberly Stuart wants you to know that authors write their own bios and are hardly reliable sources, particularly if they are writers of fiction. Nevertheless, there are a few facts that stand out:
1. Stuart loves a good story, both written and lived.
2. Stuart loves imported chocolate and her children, though the order of her affections sometimes gets muddled.
3. Stuart writes comedic women’s fiction that has an infusion of faith. However, she seems to make Christians nervous. Read at your own risk, then, and e-mail her publisher if you must.