Now and Then and Always

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A rambling run-down bed and breakfast, some deeply broken people, a decades old mystery…when put together with God in the center, it makes for a powerfully moving story.

I’ve missed Maple Valley…the charming, quirky town and its amazingly loving and welcoming residents. Reading Now and Then and Always, set on the outskirts of Maple Valley, just felt like coming home – oh I wish this was a real place! As always when we visit Maple Valley, we get to meet some new characters, but we also get to “run into” some old favorites. It’s such an added joy to catch up with these “friends.”

The newest Maple Valley residents, Marshall, Mara and Lenora are flawed and broken people. In this story, we witness God meeting each of these characters right where they are. And although this is a fictional story, it mimics how God uses us, flawed and broken people, to do His work…to care for, to offer acceptance, to love one another. The deeply broken characters in this book serve as examples to us of people in our own lives who need to be offered that care, acceptance and love. God uses Melissa Tagg’s writing to teach us how to be His hands and feet. Her writing has a unique blend of humor and depth that grabs hold of our hearts and ministers to us as we read.

This story deals with addiction, grief, hurtful family relationships, abandonment, abuse and scars. It deals with choices, perspectives hope and healing. It deals with all of this while sharing a beautiful story that draws you in and causes you to feel as if you are a part of it. Therefore, even though I have finished this story, I do not want to leave Maple Valley and these people yet. My real life is full of people who are dealing with these same things…the good and the bad. This story encourages me to be present in their lives and be the kind of friend and relative that I loved meeting and visiting with in this book.

If I’ve not made it clear enough in my review thus far, I love this book. It touched my heart and I am already anticipating another visit to Maple Valley.

Although set in a beloved fictional town full of stories already told, Now and Then and Always can be read as a stand-alone novel. If however you enjoy the added depth of reading stories in order, to enhance the overall enjoyment of the book, like I do, then I would recommend going back to the beginning of Maple Valley and starting with the prequel novella to the Walker Family Series, Three Little Words.

*Thanks to the publisher and the author for the complimentary copy to review. A good review was neither encouraged nor requested. All thoughts expressed are my own.

All This Time

All This Time - Melissa Tagg

Wow…honestly, I’m not even sure where to start.  All This Time is the final book in Melissa Tagg’s Walker Series.  I both eagerly anticipated and horribly dreaded receiving this book.  It was eagerly anticipated because every one of Melissa Tagg’s previous books, set in the idyllic Maple Valley, have been incredible.  There was no doubt in my mind that this book would transport me back to one of my favorite places, it would welcome me back among this remarkable family and I would be told a story that would touch my heart, encourage me to walk closer with my Lord and teach me some amazing truths.  That was all a given.  Every one of Tagg’s Walker Series has been all that I’ve described above, beginning with the prequel, Three Little Words, which is still one of my favorites!  (Who am I kidding…they’re all my favorite!)  The arrival of All This Time was horribly dreaded for only one reason – it was the last one and once I finished reading it, there would be no more.  Of course, the eagerly anticipated won out over the horrible dreading and I devoured the book.

If you’ve read any of Melissa Tagg’s Walker Series, you know of Bear McKinley and Reagan Walker.  They appear in all of the previous stories and have been waiting patiently (most of the time) for their story to be told.  If you have not read any of Melissa Tagg’s Walker Series, I promise not to give any spoilers…but I highly recommend that you begin as soon as possible.  All of her books can be read as stand-alone books, but, in my opinion, you receive a much richer experience by reading them in order.

Both Bear and Reagan have some very difficult situations that they must come to terms with and figure out how to live with.  I’m thankful the author doesn’t sugar coat these issues.  Instead, her characters must learn to trust God, and each other as they walk through situations and make sometimes very difficult decisions.  I really enjoyed witnessing their long-time friendship blossomed into God’s perfect plan.  As much as I don’t want this series to end, Bear and Reagan’s story is the perfect conclusion.

Melissa Tagg writes in a way that causes you to feel as if you are right there in the middle of the book with the characters.  Her characters come to life and take you along on the journey of their story.  I hope that your heart is touched and that you enjoy the journey of this story as much as I did.

Right Where We Belong

Right Where We Belong

Right Where We Belong is a collection of three delightful novellas written by Courtney Walsh, Melissa Tagg and Deborah Raney.

First up we have A Sweethaven Romance by Courtney Walsh. I always enjoy her books. She has a unique storytelling voice that draws you into her characters’ lives. The story lines are interesting. She goes just deep enough to tug at your heartstrings and yet remain lighthearted and fun.  This is a classic tale of romance brewing between two people from the “opposite side of the tracks,” with a twist. I very much enjoyed getting to know the characters in Sweethaven. I didn’t realize there were others in this series. I very much look forward to reading the rest of this series.

Next is A Maple Valley Romance by Melissa Tagg. You can’t go wrong with a Melissa Tagg book.  Maple Valley, the town in her Walker series, is the town you want to live in. Whether you’ve read any of her Walker series books yet or not, you will love this one. Megan has been patiently awaiting her happily-ever-after and at last Tagg indulged her (and us)!  Melissa Tagg’s characters grab your heart from the get-go and make you forget that they are fictional characters. Their struggles are real, their dependence on God, essential and their love for one another, magical. This is a sweet story of healing, forgiveness and redemption.

And, last but not least is A Langhorne Romance by Deborah Raney.  Raney is a popular author, that I’m a little embarrassed to say that I had not read until now. The setting was welcoming, the characters a joy to get to know and the story line, unique and fun. This was a story of God’s perfect timing and dependence on Him. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Walsh, Tagg and Raney bring three wonderful stories together in Right Where We Belong. Three great authors encouraging one another and, through their characters and stories, encouraging their readers. You don’t want to miss this collection.