My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Dayne and Katy are starting a new chapter, re-opening CKT in their hometown and getting ready to welcome a new baby into their life. Life without Hollywood is pretty sweet 🙂
The Flanigans are excited to be back in CKT, and they have lead roles in the first play. Jim has taken a job with an NFL team nearby, and all seems to be going well. Bailey really misses Cody though, and she’s confused by another growing friendship.
John Baxter’s getting ready for a wedding as he marries his dear friend Elaine. He deals with lingering emotions of guilt and begins attempting a real chance at a new beginning.
This book is one that ties up many of the ongoing storylines in the Baxter series. It allows us to get a sense of closure and to move on from their stories into new stories. I like many of the closures of the storylines, and I truly enjoyed this book. I’m going to quickly go through the major characters to give you a picture of them, and don’t forget there will probably be spoilers, so if you don’t want spoilers, now is the time to stop reading.
John: He sells the Baxter house, weds Elaine and truly starts a new chapter in his life in this book. He does it with some sadness and reflection. He still feels a little survivors guilt, but his love for Elaine and his joy in life shine through. It’s a beautiful mix, and he is one of my favorite Baxter characters.
Ashley: She finds out that she’s pregnant again. She really struggles with fear for her baby and the feeling that she could not have another baby die. Not to worry though. She gets a very happy ending, and a sense that her family is full of love.
Luke: His marriage to Reagan struggles most of the book. In fact, the word divorce is thrown around as a real possibility. It takes most of the book for him to realize that the root of their problems as a couple is the fact that they have never dealt with their feelings about the night of September 10, 2001. Dealing with their lingering guilt and feelings there will be the only way they can both truly move on without just putting a band-aid over the problem.
Katy: Things are blissful for her. She’s directing CKT again. This is exactly where she wants to be. She’s pregnant. Things are right with Dayne again. This whole book is her and Dayne’s finally happily ever after.
Bailey: She misses Cody. She’s excited about CKT, but everywhere she turns, she misses Cody. She begins a friendship with Tim Reed, and that helps some, but right now there is only one person for her in life, and that’s Cody.
Landon: As always, he supports Ashley’s crazy. He’s loving, kind and unfailingly giving to his bride and to his boys. He deals with the pain of losing his grandfather, and with concerns over whether or not his newest addition will be healthy, but he’s a rock. He reminds me of my own husband 🙂
Reagan: She spends much of this book angry at Luke, guilty still over events that happened years before and not truly willing to fix the problems. It takes some time for her to turn around, but when she does face her guilt and her pain, she finds that it gives her the strength to finally be the girl that Luke fell in love with so many years ago. I love seeing the shedding of her guilt and her forgiveness of both Luke and herself in this book. It feels like she took off a 100 pound weight.
Jenny: She is always there to support her husband, her sons and her daughter. We see reflected through Jenny’s character her concerns about Bailey, and also her realization of how perfect Bailey and Cody are together. We see her love for Cody as well, and her concern over him as if he were her son too.
Kari: Kari spends much of her point-of-view time in this book with a really old loose end in the series. She finds herself being a counselor to Angela Manning after Angela has attempted suicide. Because of God, she is able to truly know that she has forgiven Angela and she is able to show Jesus to Angela. Although I find this plot line to be kind of indulgent and unnecessary by the author, it is a beautiful way to illustrate how the love of Jesus leads us to forgiving others.
Dayne: He finally finds some peace and stability in his life. He is taking a break from Hollywood, is expecting his first child and is helping Katy with much of the running of CKT. It’s nice to see his life so peaceful because his drama has dominated so many of the Baxter books.
Cody: He serves in Iraq. He’s taken POW. We get to see this through his eyes. He is recovered, but he loses part of one of his legs, making him a disabled veteran. He struggles with loving Bailey, but with the feelings that he’s not good enough for her. His storyline and Bailey’s storyline are still unresolved, and will continue in future books, but their hug at the front door when he comes home after being injured is a rich payoff in that storyline.
So, after reading fourteen books in this series, these characters have become very real to me. This is not my favorite of the Baxter books, but it is a good, solid entry. I imagine that I will be starting the Above the Line series of the Baxter drama continuation soon enough, but I’m going to take a little break and read a non-fiction book or two before I continue through these novels since I’m at a good stopping place.