screenshot99 I received a copy of Grace Grows from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. For questions about my review policy, click here

Shelle Sumners’ debut novel, Grace Grows is all about what happens when we’ve planned and life gets in the way. Grace Barnum’s life is plodding along. If not exactly happy, she’s more or less content. She edits textbooks, even though she sometimes worries that the content is more detrimental than helpful to students. She’s engaged to a solid, dependable man called Steven, and planning her wedding. If not exactly picture perfect, it’s enough for Grace. Then enter Tyler Wilkie. Although when Grace meets him, Tyler’s a dog walker, he’s on the cusp of making it big in the music industry, and he makes a big impact on Grace. What ensues is the story of what happens when we forget perfect planning and learn to live.

It took me a little bit to get into Grace Grows. At first I was exasperated with Grace’s overbearing correction of  Tyler’s grammar, for example. But the more I got to know Grace and Tyler, the more I enjoyed the story. Grace is a more complex character than I initially anticipated.  Tyler was a little harder to buy- does a guy so good-looking, caring, and on the cusp of major fame but still believably humble really exist? If so, send him my way…..- but still a likable character with whom I found myself empathizing the more I read.  I feel like Grace shortchanged and underestimated him more than once and it cost them both… but where’s a romantic story without something conspiring to keep our heroine and hero apart?

The included song lyrics add dimension to the story, revealing feelings in a more raw and honest manner than simple dialog could have done.  As a bonus, Shelle has at her website a soundtrack for the book, which is a cool enhancement to the reading experience.  I also especially loved the quoted selections from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet – which by the way is now in my reading queue. Without spoiling too much, one of the things I appreciate most about the book is the reminder that sometimes what is perfect for us on paper, doesn’t work in real life; and sometimes, what seems an awful match in reality is just what we’re destined for.  Fans of chick lit and light romance will enjoy Grace Grows and I look forward to reading more from Shelle Sumners.