The Paper Shepherd

Grace Everlasting Book One

Christian - Romance - Contemporary
424 Pages
Reviewed on 10/23/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

The Paper Shepherd is the first book in the Grace Everlasting series by Olivia Landis - a powerful meld of Christian romance and coming of age with a great exploration of the emotional and personal development of the characters. Max and Tiar meet in very unusual circumstances. In fact, Max rescues her from bullies who circle her and treat her like a terrorist. Tiar is an orphan who knows very little about her past. They’ve told her lies about her past, starting with her great-grand father who lied about who he was. While she struggles to make sense of why they abandoned her the way they did, Max has to become not just a friend, but her hero. And he is about to make a decision that will change both their lives.

We encounter characters that are young and broken. Tiar immediately draws the sympathy of the reader. The setting comes out vividly through the narrative, from apt and vivid descriptions of places like Hectortown to elements of the weather like the wind and the darkening skies. The author makes it easy for readers to imagine the setting and feel as though they know the places and the alleys the characters walk. The psychological aspect of the conflict just blew my mind. Olivia Landis writes about relevant themes — family, friendship, love, and religion — and she does so in a way that is intimate and that allows readers to think about the themes without losing any of the entertainment the narrative offers.

The writing is impeccably good, with dialogues written so they sound natural, and the plot structure is well thought out. The Paper Shepherd feels real and the characters are appealing. I enjoyed the journey the two key characters make and readers will appreciate the psychological implications of dysfunctional families. This book showcases the author’s great gift for character, a fast-paced, gripping plot, and awesome thematic development.

K.C. Finn

The Paper Shepherd is a work of contemporary Christian romance by author Olivia Landis, and is the first book in the Grace Everlasting series. Set in the United States in upstate New York, the story focuses on two teenagers as a coming of age and romantic plot emerges during this formative time of their lives. Tiar is an orphan with unknown roots, living in the small city of Hectortown. As with all orphans, the key question of abandonment haunts her, and she longs for stability in her life. Max, on the other hand, has an awful dilemma that could alter both of their lives forever, and it’s a question of having faith and knowing what to do that will decide their futures.

This is a Christian romance like no other I’ve read. I found it really interesting to follow Tiar's and Max’s psychological journeys even more so than the romantic plot of the tale, and indeed most of the story read much more like a philosophical drama about faith than a simple romance tale. There are some graphic scenes, but they are narrated with taste and purpose to take the reader through the life experiences of the characters, and the struggles that these two realistic young people deal with are intelligently written. Olivia Landis writes with a strong and adult voice, but she keeps her young characters vulnerable and true to themselves. Overall, I’d definitely recommend The Paper Shepherd to readers looking for a more serious dramatic story line than your average romance.

Ruffina Oserio

The Paper Shepherd is book one in the Grace Everlasting series by Olivia Landis and a real treat for readers who enjoy inspirational stories and novels with a strong sense of emotion. It’s a coming of age tale that follows the lives of Max and Tiar in upstate New York. When Max first meets Tiar, she is being bullied, and after frightening the bullies and rescuing her, he brings her home. A strong friendship grows between them. Max begins to learn about Tiar’s past; she is an orphan abandoned in Hectortown and knows very little about her past. Her past is characterized by lies, deception, and rejection and, while Tiar struggles to understand her past, Max makes a decision that could change their lives in ways they never could have imagined. But are they ready for the consequences?

Olivia Landis is a great storyteller and this novel showcases her gift for plot and character. She creates characters that are 3-dimensional and lovable. My favorite character was Tiar, with the entanglements of her past, her complex personality, and the dilemmas that characterize her life. The question of faith and religion is beautifully handled while at the same time exploring strong themes like love and friendship, family and rejection. The characters are created with emotional and psychological depth; they are really human with flaws that make them believable. While the prose is exquisite and enjoyable, the author crafts dialogues that enhance character development and move the plot forward. The Paper Shepherd is deftly written, focused, and utterly delightful for fans of inspirational and Christian fiction.