Tabula Rasa

Thirty-two-year-old Rebecca Ivy escapes a church where sin abounds even more than she realizes. Betrayed and broken, the ugliness of her past prevents her from recognizing the beauty in the mirror. She soon catches the watchful eye of her Jewish co-worker, Ted Margolin, who sees a woman worthy of his protection. As an unexpected romance blooms, Rebecca struggles to reconcile all she’s been taught with the golden sparkle in the mighty Margolin’s eyes. Old family secrets come to light, and Rebecca battles rumors and threats designed to keep her silent. Meanwhile, Ted must fight for Rebecca and against his own doubts about God. Rebecca's unwavering faith in Jesus confounds and intrigues Ted, but will it be enough to give them a tabula rasa (blank slate) to erase the past and create a new story of their own?

In this story, romance takes a backseat and is used as a storytelling tool rather than as a trope to lure the reader in.  The real story is the journey Rebecca takes towards her own healing.  Abuse has marred her life since childhood, as she battled her narcissistic parents and served as her family scapegoat.  Growing up and finding the will to escape the toxicity of her family has led her to only see that type of behavior as acceptable.  Because it was normalized, Rebecca struggles with the people who are legitimately in her life to both help and harm her.  Through her faith, she is able to begin coming to terms with her pain, seeing the past (and the people in it) for what it and they truly are, and embark on writing her own story on the new leaf she turns.

The book definitely reads like Christian Romance in its style and prose, however Ana brings a voice to the genre that has been missing.  Her storytelling is real but not gritty, authoritative but not preachy, romantic but not sexual.  She doesn’t deviate from her need to tell the story and to suck the reader in, and she uses the trope of Christian Romance as curtains for a room that has so much to show.  While I found some of the secondary characters not fleshed out as much as I would prefer, this is also the start of a new series where those characters will be seen in the future.  Told from Rebecca's point of view requires that the real focus remain on her and what she is seeing in the moment, which is going to limit how well defined other characters might be, so (to me) that’s forgivable (and gives me the desire to read more!)

If CRs are your thing, I highly suggest you pick this up when it releases on 9/15.  If you don’t normally read them, but are a fan of Sweetheart Romances (1 or 2 flame style) with a need for HEA endings, then it should go on your bookshelf, too.  If you are a survivor of abuse who needs hope for the future, just go ahead and preorder it.  Regardless of the genre, we all need that bit of hope with a happy ending

Author: Ana Waters

Title: Tabula Rasa