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Ornamental Graces Kindle Edition
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Later having a beer after a business men meeting he met Robert Emily's brother and they became friends. Dan wanted Emily but didn't think he was worthy of a girl like her. His past made him feel unworthy. Emily liked him but couldn't understand why he seemed interested one minute then not the next. They had problems to iron out and at times seemed like fate was against them.
This is a wonderful story very well told. I would encourage every one to read it.
Emily is trying to figure out where her life is going. She's moved out of her brother's place, but she's not really taking life by the horns. When Dan comes into her life, she's intrigued, but his hot and cold routine just confirms everything she fears about herself - that she's just not pretty enough, and no man with a better option will give her the time of day.
This is a sweet romance - great for any time of year - in which two people find themselves as they find each other. There's a deep Catholic resonance running through the story as well, which becomes as much of a redemption story as it is a romance.
Highly recommended if you love women's fiction and romance with a sprinkling of Christmas magic thrown in.
(Though reviews are inherently subjective, I prefer to provide some organization to my opinions through the use of a personal rubric. The following notes may contain spoilers.)
Plot and Setting: 4 -- Plot is engaging. Has unique elements and no major holes, but a few shaky bits and/or a slight lack of focus. Setting is clear and believable. Timeline may be a bit hard to follow. It's a slow-paced romance, but the conflicts, roadblocks, and times of growth make it seem more real than a more typical 'insta-romance' plot. The way Kristen comes back over and over, always at the worst times, does start to feel repetitive. The main setting (Pittsburgh) is clearly stated, though travel locations (somewhere in France and presumably Baltimore) are less clear. References to holidays, months, or seasons as time passes are generally clear, though there is some confusion in timing through the first summer/fall.
Characters: 4 -- Main characters are relatable, realistic, interesting, and dynamic. Some minor characters have depth, while others may be slightly stereotyped or simplified. Definite strong points in the relationships between characters. Dan and Emily both felt very real. Emily starts with a lot of ideals and expectations, and definitely grows in grace and wisdom as each of those falls apart on her. Dan slowly works through his feelings of guilt and his poor self-esteem, and comes out stronger and more confident. Robert, Elizabeth, and their children are mostly steady background characters, but their ups and downs as they seek a 6th child, and as they try to help both Emily and Dan, lends realism and depth. Grandma is a wonderful character, too.
Mechanics and Writing: 3.5 -- A handful of typos, punctuation issues, or word errors. (<10/100 pgs) Some of the errors are mildly confusing. Good use of POV. Generally skillful writing. Errors include: compound word confusion, mild punctuation issues, mild typos (card for car once, Dan's sister Trish called 'Tish' once). A few flashbacks that weren't separated from the main story well enough, which was confusing. Also occasionally confusing: the overall format, where paragraphs are not indented or separated by spaces. It's readable, except when the previous paragraph fills the whole line, and it's unclear that a new paragraph has started. The chapter titles in French and English were slightly off-putting.
POV is all Dan and Emily.
Redeeming Value: 4.5 -- Partially focused uplifting themes or lessons. Drugs, alcohol, violence, etc, are not glorified, though there is some shaky ground. No explicit sex scenes. Clear moral guidelines for behavior. An overall theme of grace. Many issues, mainly from Dan's past, require forgiveness and grace (from Dan himself as much or more as from Emily). He also learns in the process that keeping his issues secret is the worst choice, even if there are sometimes consequences to honesty, too. Alcohol consumption is presented as normal, though drunkenness is largely relegated to the bad times in Dan's past, along with drug use, overeating, and sleeping with his ex. Dan and Emily are clearly physically attracted, but pointedly choose to wait for marriage.
Personal Enjoyment: 4 -- I liked it a lot. Highly enjoyable and very entertaining, with perhaps an issue or two that tempered my pleasure. I’d enjoy reading it again.