Natalie O’Ryan hasn’t stepped foot on Prince Edward Island in 15 years and wishes she could keep it that way. But when her fiancé Russell Jacobs, who works in Nashville’s music industry, decides they need to marry in her hometown, she doesn’t argue. Because, you see, Natalie never does anything to ruffle feathers, or to make herself the cause of “talk,” or disappoint others.
In Liz Johnson’s “On Love’s Gentle Shore,” Natalie left the beautiful Canadian province Prince Edward Island after her family was the talk of the town — she had neglectful parents, including a womanizer drunk of a father. The only thing difficult to leave behind: her best friend Justin Lane, who was always her protector and was going to leave PEI with her for bigger and better things — until his father passed away right before Natalie’s departure. Both felt rejected by the other — Natalie for not staying behind with Justin, and Justin for not leaving with Natalie.
When Natalie is forced to return to PEI to plan her wedding, she is constantly thrown into situations with Justin. Will they each be able to overcome their past anger and bitterness toward each other? And what would happen if deeper feelings should develop?
“On Love’s Gentle Shore” is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness (of one’s self and others) and grace. It delves into so many deep topics, that it really hits the heart. Natalie, especially, learns so many lessons. One who is quick to avoid controversy and gossip, always staying out of the line of fire, she must overcome the blame game, and get past carrying the weight of someone else’s bad decisions. The book reminds us we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, and deals with misunderstands and assumptions. It also deals with honesty, bitterness and anger; the thought that sometimes loneliness is easier than risking a broken heart; the inability to reveal the “real me” to others; grace; the fact that we are all worth being loved, no matter what we think about ourselves; living in fear of being hurt once again; and choosing happiness versus safety.
Jeremiah 29:11, my favorite verse, offers an integral message throughout the story. As Natalie ponders: “(She) had sometimes wondered if the God who made plans had forgotten to make a plan for her. If he’d known what she faced, why didn’t he care?” “On Love’s Gentle Shore” reminds us that we are valuable, and we are worthy of love.
Besides digging into Natalie’s and Justin’s story, we also revisit old favorites like Mama Kane, Marie and Seth, Aretha Franklin and Jack, and Caden and Adam (who happens to be Russell’s brother).
Five stars out of five.
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
“On Love’s Gentle Shore” (Prince Edward Island Dreams, #3) by Liz Johnson