Former bad girl Katie Stone can feel the weight of her reputation settle over her as she drives home for the first time in years. Feeling deeply guilty about her past mistakes, Katie wants to do the right thing for once. But the small town where she grew up is not nearly as forgiving as she’d hoped. Despite it all, she’s determined to help her parents cope with her mother’s recent illness, and Katie finds a surprise ally in the man next door. Asher Powell never minded being the son of a small-town pastor until a recent breakup leaves him wounded by lifelong members of his church. He remembers his new neighbor as a mean-spirited high school troublemaker, but he senses that her newfound faith and desire for forgiveness are sincere. Through an unexpected friendship, two people from different worlds find peace, hope, and a second chance they never dreamed was possible.
Bubby: The high school I graduated from celebrated their homecoming game and parade this last weekend. As I am old, my graduating class was featured in said parade. I wasn’t able to attend, but it was fun seeing the pictures from those that did. It made me think a bit about my high school experience and what carried over into my current life – and also made me glad that as a general rule, we don’t judge others on the people they were during high school. Personally, I was a mess. I hope I’m a much better person now, over 10 years later. Why is this relevant, you ask? Well, the protagonists of our story haven’t had any interaction with each other since their high school days, when he was a skinny preacher’s son and she was a bad girl with an attitude to match. Now they need to get re-acquainted and try to get to know each other without all the baggage of the past.
Sissy: Yup. My high school graduation was “over 10 years” ago too, Bubby. My reunion is next year, and I haven’t decided yet whether or not I will go. I am such a different person, and I guess, now that I think about it, I would like to see how others have evolved as well. There were actual “mean girls” in my class that I was totally afraid of, like My Hope Next Door‘s protagonist Katie Stone. That’s not to say I was the perfect friend to everyone, because I wasn’t. But my failings were more due to lack of self confidence and oblivion rather than meanness. Anyhow, hopefully those “mean girls” found greater awareness and altruism just like myself and Katie Stone. The difference in the book is that new and improved Katie comes back to face a small town that has in no way forgotten her old self.
Bubby: Well, Katie was quite a doozy back in the day, complete with drugs, alcohol and petty crime. She’s turned over a new leaf in her life and desperately wants to be a new person, but people and circumstances from the past keep trying to drag her down. And sweet preacher’s son-turned-next-door-neighbor Asher Powell is almost too good to be true, especially for a girl who feels such guilt about her past. Asher is handsome, kind, and can build stuff. Sounds like a dream man to me! (Actually, it sounds like both Mr. Bubby and Mr. Sissy. We got ourselves good ones!)
Sissy: Asher is also the victim of small town gossip and judgement, so the timing is just right for him to understand Katie and let her into his life. From their first meeting the chemistry between the two pops, and as a reader I was dying for them to get past all the mess and fall into each other’s arms. Equally popping was the antagonism between Katie and Asher’s family members and erstwhile “friends.” Sometimes, despite what we claim as our Christian beliefs, we have great difficulty accepting others’ changes and applying forgiveness. Yes, this is inspirational fiction, and it is very tastefully, feelingly done.
Bubby: As always, we’ve got a delightfully happy ending (eventually) and almost everything wraps up quite satisfactorily. There is still room for more story, however, especially concerning Katie’s friends. I’d love to know what happens next with them. I found My Hope Next Door to be a truly inspiring “inspirational romance”.
Sissy: This is not a frothy, sweet read, but rather a deep and meaningful story of troubles and redemption that delivers a well-fought-for happy ending. There is something here that will resonate with every reader, as is the order of things in Tammy Gray’s writing. Well done, and well worth a read.
Click HERE to buy My Hope Next Door by Tammy L. Gray