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JANET W. BUTLER couldn't decide whether to be a musician or a writer--so she's elected to do both. After earning her degree in Music from Roosevelt University, she married a percussionist, sang in a madrigal group, discovered the world of opera choruses...and scribbled stories, something she's been obsessive about since the age of ten. She also presently belongs to the IPFW Choral Union, in which, at times, she sings soprano notes only dogs can hear. ☺
Two of her biggest thrills so far have been winning RWA's Golden Heart in 1998 for her traditional romance, Rainman's Bride -- and both serving as vocal coach and singing the role of Mother Abbess in a local production of The Sound of Music in the spring of 2001. When she has the occasional profound thought, she blogs at www.catholicwriterchick.blogspot.com.
Originally from Chicago, she's a transplant to northeast Indiana, where she lives with her husband, Patrick, daughter, Jessica, and Cassandra "Trouble" Butler, SRC (Spoiled Rotten Cat).
From the Ashes is a book that takes its main characters on a roller coaster ride of the highs and lows of romance. It traces the impact of debilitating disease on a successful artist and the impact of love, and the value of prayer in his recovery.
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I loved this story and could barely put it down to get my kids fed while I was reading it. I can't give it five stars, though, because the whole time I was reading, I kept thinking: this book could have been so much better, if the author had just put in a little more effort.
Like I said, the story itself was so good. But it read like a second draft. A lot of the kinks had been smoothed out, but there were still a lot of editing mistakes and plot elements that needed to be re-worked. There were scenes that needed to be made longer---it seemed like the author was racing to get to the good parts, and then she raced through those, too. I do some writing myself, and I, too, have a tendency to race. But I'm learning that reading that kind of writing is not as satisfying as it is to read a work where the author really took her time and stopped to give lots of interesting details.
What drew me to this book was discovering that the two main characters in it are Catholics. Being a Catholic myself, I've been frustrated with the lack of inspirational romance novels available featuring Catholic characters. It turns out that the faith parts of this novel are a bit sketchy. We never hear of the characters going to Mass but once (at Christmas Eve). References to God are interspersed with romance-novel clichés describing the attraction between James and Melody and way too many euphemisms for swear words (an actual curse or two would have been far preferable).
Okay, so this novel was far from perfect. But I still recommend it, because, as I said, the story is so enjoyable, and I really couldn't put it down---and that has to say something for it, right?
I'd love to read more novels by Janet Butler. I just hope next time she'll go that extra mile; if she does, I know her book will be stellar!