To be perfectly honest, when I first saw this title, I was sure I wouldn't like it. I mean, Meant to Be Mine is a bit cheesy. Then I saw the cover, and I was sure this book would be a roll-your-eyes read. Other than the chestnut curls and peasant-type shirt, the cover conveys nothing about the feel of the book or the personalities of the characters. I think there should be a pair of grey cowgirl boots somewhere on the cover. Or if the boots would pigeonhole the story too much (since it is not a typical cowboy romance), then something more like my last don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover review. Maybe. What do I know about cover design? And I know I'm no good at picking good titles. Just look at the super-creative title of this post!
To get to the story:
Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.
The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He's a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he's long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he's known since childhood.
Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.
How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia's trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?So what made me look past the cover and the title? Well, you know, I love the rodeo! And growing up fatherless myself, paired with an overactive imagination that has thought in detail about every single scenario involving an absent father and/or a single mother, made his unknown daughter pique my interest.
I knew the Vegas wedding thing would have to be good in order for the book to really work. And it was. Most sober people won't end up married to someone they hardly know in Vegas. But Celia's case was unique: she had been in love with the man since high school. The whole arrangement felt natural, which made their split even more heartbreaking.
I loved how different the characters are. Ty is no stereotypical cowboy. And Celia's life as a single mom was painted so vividly! I just wanted to hop into the book and be the friend she needed! Both characters' motivations are real and human. Their good qualities are nicely contrasted with believable bad qualities. And their physical descriptions are reinforced so naturally that I can exactly picture what most of the characters look like. Often the description is forced in so obviously that it interrupts the flow of the story, or there is not enough reinforcement so that I forget halfway through that the character has brown hair rather than blonde, or something like that.
And Addie! Oh my word, she is so cute! With teal glasses just like I had. Since I have a four-almost-five-year-old myself, I can tell that she's written at the right developmental level for her age. Some books will have a three-year-old saying things an eight-year-old would be more likely to say, which drives me crazy! Addie is a lot like my daughter was at her age—serious, and imaginative, and really into princesses.
I have to note here that I am so glad that the author took the gender of the POV characters into account when describing colour. To Celia, Addie's glases are teal. But to Ty, they're just blue.
A few of my favourite minor characters: Uncle Danny (I'm rooting for him to find his true love too!), Bo'n'Meg (they are kind of joined at the hip), and Tawny (she needs a story of her own).
I felt the plot moved at a good pace. Nothing felt unrealistically rushed (well, except maybe for the 4-day dating period before the wedding!), and nothing lagged. There was a lot of detail stuffed into this book, as it moved through several states, several houses, and a few other locations. Each place is distinct and memorable.
Ty's reaction when he finds out he has a daughter was perfectly manly, yet emotional and heartbreaking. In fact, it made me cry!
I love stories that involve someone having to win the love of his or her own spouse (The Vow, anyone?) It's especially fun in Celia and Ty's case because she is so adamant that she will not fall in love with Ty again. And I am so glad that inspirational fiction is allowing for the realistic portrayal of physical tension and desire these days.
Mmm...I'm sure I exceeded my calorie limit just from reading about the delectable things Celia bakes throughout the book! I want some coconut cream pie.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
All opinions expressed are my own.