Monday, November 10, 2014

If You Follow Me by Pam Rhodes

About the book:
In the parish of Dunbridge, the news is out – Claire and Neil are engaged! And yet, almost before the celebrations have begun, Ben, the father of Claire's son,
appears back on the scene. He's keen to pick up where he and Claire left off.

As Neil reels in the face of Claire's confusion, Wendy seems to be there to provide support and comfort. Little does Neil know of Wendy's involvement in Ben's appearance.

Neil has little chance to ponder his love life as the whole weight of running the church and parish descends upon his inexperienced shoulders. His mother, Iris, who has never hesitated to share her opinions, has just moved to be near him. But Neil's time as a curate in Dunbridge is coming swiftly to an end. Where will he be going next and who will be going with him?

My review:
I have really liked this series. (This is the third one.) Neil has been a great curate. Even though he seems to be way over his head, God's grace and the perseverance of the Dunbridge people help Neil succeed. He has been hesitant at romance and this issue with Claire has thrown him for a loop. He's such a good guy, one just can't help but hope it all works out.

I love the people in Neil's parish. There's the elderly couple who tease each other but underneath that is an intense love. There are the bickering flower arranging women who, almost unbelievably, become friends.

There are ugly ones too, like James. He is a father who just does not understand his son and totally alienates him – to the point of the teen trying suicide. James is a domineering and disliked musician too. And then there's Wendy. What a conniving woman. She arranges to disrupt Neil's love life and then she is there to “comfort” him. Rhodes crafted her character so well I wanted to slap her.

What I like about the characters is that they are like people in any church. There are the ones who serve silently and there are others who demand recognition. There are some who go along with the others and some who demand their own way. There are people dying and there are babies being born. There's a little girl who saw an angel. The Dunbridge firemen even make one of those calendars to help out a single mom recovering from a destructive husband.

Right in the middle of them all is Neil, making his way as a man of God. Over the series of novels, he has matured and grown into his calling. He has found love. This latest book in the series is a delight, a joy to read.

Pam Rhodes has presented the BBC's Songs of Praise for many years. This is the third book in her Dunbridge Chronicle series. Find out more at http://www.pamrhodes.co.uk/.

Lion Fiction (distributed in the U.S. by Kregel), 255 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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