Decide to Hope

Fiction - Womens
438 Pages
Reviewed on 08/31/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Decide to Hope by June A. Converse is a compelling work of women's fiction that you will savor and remember for a long time to come. It's also the first in a trilogy called The Hope Trilogy. We begin with a traumatized woman, Kathleen Conners, who is trying to hold herself together in the only way she knows how--behind sunglasses and scarf--because of The Event, which consumes her. She would be content to let the world pass by her and forget life with anyone else, but destiny may have other plans. His name is Matt Nelson. He finds himself on a hideaway beach in North Carolina, thanks to a box of letters from his mother, who has passed away. As he tries to sort out issues concerning his mother, his path crosses with Kathleen. Matt is enchanted by her, but is he someone she can lean on and begin a future with, or will she give up, reject him, and let him slip through her fingers?

Converse gives us an emotionally involving drama that you may want to read more than once. She carefully and skillfully constructs her characters in ways that show them as real people with real problems. They seem realistic and relatable. I also like the suspense she builds by ending a lot of the chapters on mini cliffhangers that are emotional and keep the pages turning. Even the letters play into the suspense. This is a longer work compared to some, but worth every hour of reading. You'll get caught up in the drama quickly, and will get to know and like these characters and this story. It turns out that Matt is my favorite. You may not, however, be able to predict what will happen, and that's what I like the most. The situations will have you yearning for a good resolution, but you will have to read till the end to find out how it's all resolved. This writer handles trauma with sensitivity and grace, but with surprising blunt force as well. For a character-driven, plot-driven drama about relationships and recovery that's hard to put down, indulge in Decide to Hope by June A. Converse.

Romuald Dzemo

Decide to Hope by June A. Converse is an unusual romance that features a unique situation and characters that are just extraordinary. Kathleen Conners has not only been hurt; she has been broken beyond repair, a woman whose self-esteem and sense of dignity have been shattered by trauma. If it were possible, she would prefer to cease to be because the possibility of having a future with someone is nonexistent after what happened to her. So she thinks. Then enters Matt Nelson, a man whose life changes after receiving a box of letters from his dead mother. His mother has left plans for him, and while he struggles to make sense out of it all, he meets Kathleen. As he struggles to connect to her, someone from Kathleen’s painful past resurfaces. Can Kathleen transcend her pain and allow herself to be touched by Matt and how much is Matt willing to accept in order to gain the woman he loves?

This is one of the few novels I have read in romance that roused emotions I never knew existed in me. The lead female character is well-written and she is like people we have met, people with deep-running threads of trauma. She is one of those people who need to find themselves before they can give themselves to anyone. And when she is about to give love a try, someone from her painful past comes into the scene, raising the stakes. I adored Matt’s intelligence, tolerance, maturity, and patience. This is a novel with characters that are not just real but hugely believable and the reader begins to think about their own hurts and how trauma has stalled their personal growth. Decide to Hope is a tale with strong psychological underpinnings, a story that is written in dazzling prose and filled with insight and wisdom.

Vincent Dublado

Decide to Hope by June A. Converse is an intense romantic drama that takes you through the crisis of the two main characters. It lets you put the pieces together yourself as you get to know Kathleen Conners and Matt Nelson, learning how the circumstances surrounding their internal struggles brought them together. Kathleen lives on a secluded beach in North Carolina as she is trying to deal with her psychological trauma, and conceals herself behind a scarf and sunglasses. Matt, on the other hand, is a tax attorney who lost his mother recently, and his father’s sudden retirement has given him an extended workload at their law firm. He gives himself time to unwind by taking a vacation in North Carolina that was planned by his deceased mother, and receives a box of letters that she had written to him before she passed away. His mother’s message has a sense of urgency - she asks him to take a vacation and to find out what matters to him in life. This becomes the start of his personal journey as he crosses paths with Kathleen.

Matt and Kathleen both project an aura of aloofness, but as you get to know them on every page, they start to grow on you. They do possess a certain warmth that makes the storyline and the romantic angle winsome. June A. Converse finds the right note in articulating personal pain. She writes with relaxed confidence and even humor at times. One of the letters written by Matt’s mother will make you grin when it is supposed to be dramatic. It’s because Converse has chosen to reveal the persona of a caring yet no-nonsense mother who knows her son inside out, where her letter even admonishes Matt to stop rolling his eyeballs while reading her message. It was good to read the interactions between Matt and Kathleen, allowing us to further understand these characters. Best of all, Decide to Hope has an ending that is consistent and logical with the storyline. Decide to Hope is an intimate story that you cannot afford to pass up.