Happily Ever After

by Susan May Warren

In Happily Ever After, Warren weaves a love story between two people who are living with the weight of the past on their shoulders. As the book opens, Mona moves to Deep Haven, Minnesota to pursue her dream of opening a bookstore/coffeeshop, but she’s plagued by doubts that God will allow her dreams to come true. Enter Joe Michaels: A drifter who’s just returned to Deep Haven so he can check in on his brother Gabe, a young man living in a group home for those with Down’s syndrome. Joe takes a job as Mona’s handyman, and a romance soon follows.

Without giving any major plot elements away, I’ll just say that this romance follows the familiar formula: Boy and girl meet, attraction develops, obstacles arise to thwart the budding romance, and are eventually overcome. In this case, Joe and Mona both have unresolved pain from the past that needs to be dealt with: They need to learn some lessons about forgiveness in order to move forward with each other.

Warren developed somewhat interesting characters, but the plot dragged along and was bogged down with too much metaphorical and descriptive language about the Minnesota scenery. Unfortunately, this book also fell into some lengthy passages of “preachiness,” barely disguised as dialogue between characters. In a sense, I felt that Warren didn’t trust her own story enough: I think she could have left out a lot of the direct conversation about forgiveness and just let Joe and Mona’s story do the talking.

All in all, Happily Ever After had a cute story with interesting characters, but it fell a little flat on delivery. I’d say if you want to read a good Christian romance, you’ll probably want to try something else.