Book Review: Softly and Tenderly by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck



Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: January 4, 2011

Softly and Tenderly is the second book in the Songbird series, and continues the story of Jade, as written by country-singer/writer Evans and Christian fiction author Hauck. I did not have the pleasure of reading the first book in the series, but found that it did not impact my ability to enjoy this book. In this second installment, Jade's world is rocked when she and her mother-in-law June make a discovery that shocks Jade and causes her to question everything she thought about her husband's family. When Jade then learns that her husband Max had a child with another woman, a child she was never told about, she must confront her past and her present in order to decide whether she will be able to move forward into an uncertain future.

Evans and Hauck have written a moving story, one that is filled with deep characters and family dynamics that are raw and real. The characters are faced with struggles any family may encounter – cancer, drug abuse, infertility, affairs, and I found my heart aching for Jade and June and their past and present difficulties. The shocking discovery that is unveiled in the first chapter sucks you into the story and awakens your empathy for the characters, and I found the story to move along swiftly. The story is carefully crafted, and I enjoyed the author’s creative descriptions, such as when they write “the kitchen was like a structural hug, cozy with June’s Southern hospitality and dabbled with yellow and gray smoky mountain sunshine dripping through the skylight”.

The writing is sensuous in places, earthy, raw, and the story unfolds layer by layer in a way that exposes the depths of the characters emotions. I found myself moved by the characters ability to forgive, which is handled in a realistic manner. Readers who enjoy contemporary novels will resonate with this book, and will find their faith both challenged and inspired. Some of the closing words are profound, such as when Jade notes “But it was facing the pain, pushing through the heartache, that brought her to this moment of peace. Life had true hope for her”. These are words that we all may aspire to when we are faced with our own tragedies.

I strongly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via the Booksneeze program and netgalley, for the purposes of this unbiased review.