The Love Letter

LoveLetter

Chloe lowered the pages with a glance toward Jeremiah, who stared at his script without expression. Falling into his arms… begging him to stay.
She’d lived that scene with Haden Stuart. In fact, she felt certain Esther’s last line was taken from her viral video. Had Jesse Gates seen it? Hard to say, but when the video reached twenty million views, Chloe gave up hiding out and defending herself. She stopped resisting the truth that her crushing humiliation had become a part of pop culture.

“Well…” Jeremiah sighed, tossed the script to the table, reached for his water, and took a long drink.
“What?” Chloe said. “I overplayed her, didn’t I? Let’s read again. I can tone her down. I wasn’t sure on the accent. More British or more Southern? Geez, I don’t want to do a Scarlett O’Hara. That’s not right.” She forced a smile. “I’m so used to the drama of dying and… Know what?” She stuffed the script into her bag. “It’s okay. I don’t regret trying. Thank you for reading with me, Jer. See you at the wedding.”
“Sit down.” Jeremiah pointed to her chair, using his director’s voice. “You’re not going anywhere.”
Chloe stumbled back, tripping down into the chair, a jittery flip-flop tumbling through her.”
“I can’t believe I didn’t audition you. Wow, Chloe. You are so much better than you know. Better than I knew.” His eyes glistened as he spoke.
“I-I… What? Really?” She smiled. “You want me for the part?” A carnival with trumpets and balloons paraded through her. “How will you explain me to the studio?”
“You let me worry about the studio.” He offered his hand. “Welcome to Bound by Love, Chloe Daschle.”

-The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. In no way did this affect my review or my rating of the novel.

The Love Letter is a historical romance about two couples in two different centuries: Esther and Hamilton are a couple split by familial conflicts during the Revolutionary War, and Hamilton’s modern-day descendant is a young man named Jesse who is inspired to write a screenplay about Hamilton’s forbidden love, and ends up falling in love with Chloe, the dazzling young actress who has been picked to play Esther. The novel touches on themes of destiny, faith, and true love.

Let me start by saying that I absolutely loved the concept of this book: leaps back and forth between the modern world and the 18th century, seeing Jesse’s interpretation of the romance between Hamilton and Esther, and the reality of their romance and conflict. And on this front, the book did marvelously well. There were quite a few places where that contrast was really tangible. In one chapter, Jesse and Chloe are standing on an old battlefield in the modern day, and Jesse notices that the road curves down so that the attackers likely could not have seen the defendants until the came up on them. Jesse comments that it probably would have affected the outcome of the battle, and he wonders whether Hamilton would have noticed. We then have a change of scene, and Hamilton does notice the curve of the path – not during the battle, but instead, during an encounter with Esther.

There was so much potential in the worldbuilding and the concept of the plot that I was really disappointed by the lack of overall plot realism. When I picked up the book I had not realised that this was Christian fiction, and while I am not opposed to Christian fiction as a genre, some of the religious premises sometimes struggle with realism. That was definitely a problem in The Love Letter. This book makes a strong argument that God can handle everything, and if we place our fates in God’s hands, he will solve our problems for us. I do like this as a religious belief, but it is a little lacking as a plot device. There were a number of times in the book when the characters basically give up on their goals, and their problems are solved for them. There just wasn’t enough of a connection between their actions and their results, and I found myself getting frustrated by characters that came across as not as believers, but as people that aren’t willing to work for results. There also were a handful of moments where Jesus actually appeared in a vision to the characters. This might not be abnormal for this genre, I’m genuinely not sure, but that really took me out of the narrative. I feel like there has to be a better way of showing a character’s spiritual progression than literally having Jesus show up. This is admittedly not my typical genre, so others might feel differently.

I feel so conflicted about the character development, because there are some fantastic developmental moments, especially for Chloe and Jesse, and then there are moments where huge changes are instated with little transition. Chloe in particular has a thorough background and some real, meaningful character changes through the novel. At the start of The Love Letter, Chloe is a few years out of a bad relationship with a rough, public break-up that was posted online. She wants to believe in true love and the institution of marriage, but feels that she is unlucky in love. She has learned the wrong lessons from her experiences – rather than learning how to be independently strong, she has instead learned to distance herself from others. Through The Love Letter, Chloe learns to trust the right people in her life rather than the wrong people, and she learns how to be happy with herself and to have strength in her faith. I really like this progression for her. However, towards the end of the novel she suddenly decides to trust God to solve her relationship problems for her, and she starts acting in a manner that might be best described as erratic – rather than consistently backing off of romance or changing her approach to romance, she instead just acts on opportunities that appear in front of her. To be frank, this sudden change seemed out of place for me, and really disrupted the character development that had been so strong until that moment. There are similar moments for Jesse, Esther, and Hamilton – they each have a moment of realization when they realize they need to trust God to do what is best for them, and then suddenly their behavior becomes rather erratic. To be clear, this did not feel like a difference in beliefs to me – I feel like there could still have been a change in beliefs without the characters’ behaviors seeming so random. That being said, this moment did pass in the book, consistency was resumed, and I was happy with the ending. So take that how you will.

In all, I will give The Love Letter a 6 out of 10. As a Christian romance, it was engaging enough to keep me invested through the end, but I just wanted more from the character development and plot realism.

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