A Very Special Delivery (by Linda Goodnight)

Browsing around Amazon, as I do from time to time, I came across this Kindle book described as something like an 'inspirational romance'. I had never heard of Linda Goodnight, but am happy to try books of this nature, so - as it was on free special offer - I downloaded it.

The story opens in the middle of a terrible snowstorm. Molly, who lives alone, is interrupted by a delivery man called Ethan who needs to take some urgent medication further up the mountain - and leaves his infant daughter Laney to her care. Molly is terrified, for reasons which later become clear, but cannot refuse...

This highly unlikely scenario sets the scene for a story that didn't quite fit comfortably into any chronological genre. Much of the feel of it was mid-20th century, or even earlier, yet it was set firmly in the 21st century with mobile phones, disposable nappies and modern medications. It's overtly Christian, which is fine; I didn't feel that the references to God were over-done, and the book wasn't too preachy; indeed, some of the Christian characters were shown in rather a bad, unforgiving light.

The story continues as the main characters grow - inevitably - closer to each other, and begin to unwrap their past guilt and unhappiness over various circumstances. We learn how Ethan comes to be a single father, and why Molly is so afraid of being alone with Laney.

Unfortunately, a lot of the writing was rather introspective, switching at will between different viewpoints, and with far too many lengthy inner viewpoints, often repeated. Molly and Ethan's reluctance to talk about their pasts was not really believable in the circumstances. I did like Molly's aunt Patsy, a redoubtable elderly Christian lady of integrity, but then wondered why on earth Laney hadn't been left with her in the opening part of the book!

Most of the other characters were rather flat, however, and the conversation did not seem realistic; perhaps that's because there was a lot of American slang, but it's not as if I'm unfamiliar with that kind of writing. With Jan Karon, for instance, it feels real. In this book, most of the time, it didn't. I also found myself decidedly irritated towards the end of the book that Laney was given a bottle of milk with added cereal, despite Ethan being, in general, an exemplary father.

The ending is fairly good, after a thrilling - and oddly moving - climax which then leads to a lot of rather rapid tying of up ends, and happy (if not quite believable) reconciliation. But somehow, I doubt if I'll read this again.

Overall it's not a bad book, for light Christian fiction, but I felt could have done with some significant editing.

Note: links are to paperback versions of this story, the UK one being to an edition containing another books as well.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 11th January 2012

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