I just finished reading Delivered With Love by Sherry Kyle. I won the book in a drawing and the Kindle version was a freebie last week (now it's back to full price). I really wanted to love this book and give the author some free publicity. The author is so sweet and she had a fun little facebook chat last night about the book. But I had a lot of problems with the book that made it impossible for me to rank it as highly as I wanted to.
What I liked: The story is cute. I started out really liking the book and not wanting to put it down because the premise held some mystery. I connected with the heartache of the main character over losing her mother and having no where to go next. It's contemporary and addresses relevant issues for today.
What I didn't like: The story has too many coincidences to be believable. At the beginning, main character, Claire has just lost her mother and she's trying to figure out what to do with her life. She's spent the last year or two wrapped up in caregiving when others her age might have been in college. She discovers an old love letter in the glove box of her mom's Volkswagen and begins to obsess about it. For some reason, she just has to know who it came from.
Fast forward do the one-year anniversary of her mom's death and Claire loses her job because she's too dreamy, apparently because of the letter. Don't worry, I'm not giving away any spoilers. This is all in the first couple of chapters.
Claire's tired of living with her sister and her alcoholic brother-in-law, so she decides to leave L.A. and venture north to Capitola, California in search of the writer of this love letter from 35 years ago. On the way, she has one coincidental encounter after another. Now, she chalks it all up to God's providence, but few readers are going to find it believable. So many people from her past, just happen to have connections with people in the very same place she's headed.
I thought the dialogue was stiff in places and just too mundane to really engage me. I didn't feel like I connected with any of the characters, except maybe the grandmother, Geraldine. She was spunky for her age. And I really liked Claire at first, until she made a string of immature decisions. Seemed like she'd bring that letter out in some of the most awkward situations to try to get answers. The way the gospel is presented in the book isn't as compelling as it ought to be. Claire, abruptly realized her need to "ask Jesus into her heart", and it was a little cliche in how it happened.
I also had a difficult time with how trusting Claire was. Along the way, she encountered several very kind people, but she seemed to develop instant attachments with strangers. She accepted the offer to stay in an RV with a couple she accidentally rear-ended with her VW. And then she went home with a tow truck man when her car couldn't be fixed late at night. The fact that he had a wife, didn't lesson my concern over her trust. Claire bonded too quickly with a single male neighbor and there was just too much flirty innuendo for my taste.He was a nice Christian guy, but I didn't need some of Claire's comments that bordered on lust. And then, she referred to one young woman as a "good friend" when she'd only met her once for a few hours at a campground.
Wow! It's so tough being so negative, but like I said, I really wanted to love this author's debut novel. It's so rare that I have this many objections to a book.