Shelly Beach File:
Reviewed by C.J. Darlington
Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach
"...a touching family story and a refreshing debut novel."
Most weekends find flame-haired Mona VanderMolen scouting for rare finds. A former teacher who quit her job after a family tragedy, she’s been the owner of Stewartville Antiques for eighteen months now and is finally learning the ropes. But life isn’t easy in the antique business. Dealers often outbid her at auctions, and things are tight. Someone has already offered to buy her out. But she’s a fighter, and she intends to make it through the tough times.
Mona’s dire financial situation isn’t her only problem. Her relationship with her beloved fifteen-year-old niece Hallie was shattered eighteen months ago, thanks to Mona’s sister. She blames Mona for the accident the family’s still reeling from and refuses to allow aunt and niece to see each other. But that’s about to change. Hallie has plans her mother and Mona know nothing about. Can Mona get through to her niece with the love and forgiveness she so desperately needs? Or will that tragedy that shook their family take them both down for good?
Mona’s quirks (like her peanut M&M cravings) make her believable and real, and it’s easy to understand why niece Hallie is drawn to her. The single, fun loving woman isn’t concerned what people think, either of her appearance or actions. Hallie herself is painted as the slightly cliched rebellious teenager at first, but it isn’t long before we see her in a different light.
The theme of forgiveness is gently and convincingly woven through the pages of this contemporary story. Some of the dream sequences were a little hard to follow, but Beach’s sprinkling of imaginative phrases (my favorite: “It’s hot enough to gag a maggot.”) and characters you’d like to call your friends make up for some mild first-book-itis.
Overall, Hallie’s Heart is a touching family story and a refreshing debut novel.
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.