Title: The Masterpiece
Author: Francine Rivers
Rating: 4/5 stars
Overview: I don’t know why, but I keep coming back to Francine Rivers. It seems that every time I read one of her books, I’m left feeling a little guilty and rather appalled by the sexual content. And yet her stories are so good that the back cover summary of an unread book draws me in sooner or later. Such was the case with this book, and I’m happy to say it’s now my favorite of Rivers’ books.
Characters: Grace was a great character! Heroines tend to annoy me in one way or another, but Grace was sweet and relatable and someone I would love to be friends with. She’s had a lot of trauma in her life, but she’s handled it well and is a great example of how Christ can redeem even the most difficult of situations. Roman was such a complex character, and I enjoyed getting to know him. He also has a lot of trauma to deal with, and it was intriguing to see how he and Grace handled similar situations in remarkably different ways. I enjoyed watching him develop as a character and gaining insight into how his past shaped who he is in the present.
Content: Rivers’ novels tend to be on the edgy side, but this one was refreshingly free of that label. There are definitely references to sexual things (both Grace and Roman have checkered pasts in this area), but nothing’s detailed or graphic, not even the few on-page kisses. One character has practically no morals in this area, but that’s treated as wrong throughout the story. A character’s husband cheats on her. A character has a child out of wedlock. There’s no bad language written out, but there are numerous occasions of “he swore” or “he said a four-letter word.” One character grew up in a rough neighborhood and spent some time with a gang, so there’s some violence and reference to drugs.
Writing: Rivers has a unique writing style that draws the reader in well. Her sentence structure could use some variation, though; they all tend to follow the same “subject-verb-object” pattern, which gave me a bit of a headache after a while. She’s excellent at characterization, though, with her characters feeling like really people and not just words on a page. The ending did feel a bit… not rushed, exactly, but as if there were some questions still left unanswered. There’s one mystery in particular I would have liked a clear resolution for. The answer is implied strongly but never concluded, which was a little annoying.
Summary: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I haven’t read a story quite like it before, and it was an intriguing look into how childhood trauma affects adult life. The story spends more time on the characters getting to know each other as people instead of potential romance partners, which was a refreshing change of pace. I would recommend this book to readers 18+ who enjoy original romances and can handle tough subjects.