Books reviewed prior on this site prior to March 2019 were provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. Reviews beginning March 2019 come from a variety of sources: advanced copies, library loans, and my own purchases. All reviews are my honest opinions.

October 12, 2015

The Wedding Chapel {Rachel Hauck}

the wedding chapel rachel hauck book review
An old, forgotten chapel holds the key to love and forgiveness.

Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—building a wedding chapel for Collette Greer, the woman he fell in love with in 1949. But now a realtor wants the land the chapel sits on, and he sees no reason to hang onto the past.

Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s string of failed marriages. When she falls head-over-heels for Jack Gillingham, a top ad man, their whirlwind romance and elopement leave her with doubts. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to find the right way to show her he really cares.

When a post-mortem letter from Taylor’s Granny Peg shows up, along with an old photo, she is driven to uncover family secrets and the secret to her own happiness, starting with an assignment to photograph an unknown, obscure wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend.

Taylor begins a mission to convince Jimmy that the chapel is worth saving—and that forgiveness and healing might happen within the chapel’s walls . . . for both of them.

My Thoughts:
I so totally and completely fell in love with this story, and with the characters that make this story so perfect.

There are several story lines going on throughout this book. We travel back to the 1940’s to a time following the war when kids were figuring out their plans for the future and the people they would spend the rest of their lives with. We get a glimpse into the decisions that were made, and how those decisions affected each one of them for the rest of their lives.

We also get to see these same characters in present day. Their children and grandchildren are the ones that this book centers around, and their lives come together in a way that only God can orchestrate.

I loved getting to know Taylor and Jake. They have one of those marriages where they are completely in love with each other, but each has so much baggage that they are unable to fully give themselves to one another. Watching them struggle through most of this story tore at my heart, but made me love them so much more when they finally found their peace in the end.

Collette seems like a character that I would love to run into in real life. She is successful and seems to have it all – except the one thing she always wanted. When this book begins, she is such a confident woman that has it all together. But as the story progresses we get to see her broken down and the true feelings of her heart. When she finally follows her heart, I could not contain my happiness.

There is also the “big secret” that drives this story and the lives of these characters. I admit that I figured out part of the secret pretty quickly, but I was completely unprepared for the realization of how that secret came to be and the events leading up to it. My heart ached for all the characters involved when the truth finally came out.

But above all things in this book, we get to see God work in some amazing ways. He literally moves lives and circumstances around to put people together in the way he intended. He moves in ways that so many people only read about, yet these characters got to experience. I loved how God’s love and compassion suddenly became the focus of this story.

This is one of those books that will leave you thinking about the characters long after the last page has been turned. I recommend you add it to your reading list.

RITA finalist and award winning author Rachel Hauck writes from sunny central Florida. With strong southern stories, she infuses faith and real life into the lives of her fictional characters.

Rachel loves to encourage new writers and is the book therapist for My Book Therapy and writing community founded by Susan May Warren. 

Rachel graduated from Ohio State University with a BA in Journalism. She is an avid OSU football fan. Visit her web site to find out more and click on the icons to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.