Jessie Belle

The Women of Merryton - Book One

Christian - Romance - General
290 Pages
Reviewed on 10/13/2015
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers' Favorite

The human heart is certainly vulnerable and when it breaks, healing is more of a struggle than some people can face. For Jessie in Jessie Belle: The Women of Merryton - Book One by Jennifer Peel, losing her last chance to have her own baby is almost too much and she turns inwards to mourn what could have been. Blake, her husband of 13 years, gives her the space Jessie seems to want, but keeps his hurt and sorrow inside as well so the couple grows further and further apart. With the help of her two best friends and her parents, all of whom are amazing characters in their own right, Jessie begins feeling more like her old self. She and Blake decide to work on repairing their relationship, but an even bigger bombshell drops in their laps. Blake has a daughter from a one night stand from before his marriage to Jessie. Can Jessie be the step-mother Maddie needs? Will Blake continue to see Jessie as the woman he wants to love? Will Jessie have the strength to heal herself in the midst of a completely new life? It is amazing what someone can do when they put their mind to it – especially with the love and support of family, friends, and a husband who is willing to try.

If you love to feel a wide range of emotions as you live the story along with the characters, then this is the perfect book for you! I laughed, cried, cringed and cheered as Jessie, Blake and the other inhabitants of Merryton faced their issues together. Jessie Belle: The Women of Merryton - Book One by Jennifer Peel is an absolutely delightful read. Peel writes with great emotion and humor and keeps the action lively so you keep turning the pages, anxious to see just what will happen next. This is certainly the first book of a series that many people will absolutely fall in love with.

Jamie Michele

Jessie Belle: The Women of Merryton by Jennifer Peel takes us into the lives of Jessica and Blake Summers, a husband and wife duo experiencing a mundane turn in their thirteen-year marriage. Instead of a seven-year itch, the Summers' are at a make-or-break point. As if growing apart wasn't enough of a challenge, a wrench is thrown into the spokes of their relationship when Blake drops a bomb in Jessica's lap: he has a daughter neither knew existed and a nearly thirteen-year-old Maddie enters the picture. Maddie was conceived during a one night stand while on a break in their relationship. After years of heartbreaking and fruitless attempts to produce children of their own, Jessica is forced to make the best of the hand she's been dealt. Despite the wholly consuming difficulties at hand and the odds stacked against them, the Summers find deliverance in the person they least expect.

Told in the first person, Jessie Belle: The Women of Merryton by Jennifer Peel offers readers the perspective of Jessica Summers with an intelligent and well developed voice. Peel is able to tell an engaging and inspiring story that is both authentically human and entirely believable. Jessica and Blake are refreshing in the way they are genuinely portrayed, the opposite of cookie-cutter protagonists, against the town, and the true antagonists to their own marriage. It is this realism that makes their story captivating, and keeps a reader furiously turning the pages. I loved that their struggles, heartbreak, and triumphs were not outside the realm of possibility and, on the contrary, will likely be relatable to those who have experienced over a decade of marriage themselves. Ultimately, it's the writing itself that takes the prize, and I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone looking for a clean, enjoyable read.

K.C. Finn

Jessie Belle is a Christian romance novel by author Jennifer Peel, and the first book in the Women of Merryton series. As the title suggests, our central character is Jessica ‘Jessie’ Summers, who lives in the sweet little township of Merryton, Colorado with her husband Blake. Though they have been married for thirteen years, a brand new secret threatens to rock their relationship to its core as Madeline arrives: Blake’s teenage daughter from a one night stand with a woman Jessie loathes. The Summers’ marriage has been fraught with miscarriages and grief, and suddenly Jessie finds herself looking at Madeline as the child she and Blake could never have. But, even as Jessie resolves to be a good stepmother to the young girl, it becomes apparent that nothing about the situation is going to be easy.

The romance element of Jessie Belle is very much a ‘win her back’ situation, as Blake tries to make up for his shortcomings at the same time as learning to be a father to his daughter. Jessie is a warm character whose traumatic past instantly makes her likeable and relatable to the audience, and Jennifer Peel writes with superb realism to flesh out the central couple and their new teenage bundle of trouble. I was thoroughly impressed to see the reformation of a loving and passionate romance in such a clean style, and the variety of settings within the nosey, gossipy little town of Merryton were delightful. Overall, I’d highly recommend this novel to contemporary romance and women’s fiction fans.