Clearly, Mary cares about her characters because they are so three dimensional and realistic that I didn't feel forced to believe they could really exist. Character development was smooth and natural, and as I read, I watched their true traits emerge. Mary showed how God's children – even those actively involved in Christian ministry roles – are not without faults or sin. I enjoyed them because they were far from flawless.
A decade has passed, and Ty doesn't want to hurt Winter any more than he already has. He still loves her and wants to be reunited, even though he knows he doesn't deserve that. Still, he can’t ignore the feeling that God wants them to be together. Selfishness and pride controlled him before he found God and allowed Him to work in his heart, and now Ty wants to be the man God wants him to be and the man Winter needs him to be. He wonders if she can ever forgive him.
As thoughts and fragmented pictures of her broken marriage assault her, Winter tries hard to keep from falling apart. When their church ministry plans abruptly change, she and her team members travel to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a home of many unhappy memories for her. She wonders what God’s purpose could possibly be in sending her there. That's when she hears Him speak two words: "Forgive him." She knows what those words mean – forgive her former husband Ty, unconditionally and without second thoughts – and the effort forgiving him will require.
Instead of letting her old feelings control her, Winter knows God insists on forgiveness. Throughout her ministry efforts, doesn’t she tell others how God's power can wipe the slate clean? Will she let Him do the same for her and Ty? Her desire to run from the pain of the past is strong, but God's urging her to do what’s right is even stronger and cannot be dismissed.
Winter hears God's words and knows He’s right, yet she wants to leave the hurt of her divorce behind and move on. Because she's been hurt by Ty, forgiving him sounds next to impossible. She's certain she's forgiven him already, but what if she hasn't? Determined not to give him another chance to inflict pain upon her heart, Winter dreads seeing Ty again. However, she soon discovers she is still in love with him, and what’s even more amazing is that Ty still loves with her.
Tender moments offset the gripping and tense scenes, and each time I thought I'd figured out what was going to happen next, Mary threw in a plot twist I wasn't expecting and surprised me. Authentically written, the dialogue helps move the story along in the right direction; and despite a broken marriage and trust issues, the romantic connection between Winter and Ty is unmistakable.
I love stories that include God as one of the main characters, and my favorite part is how Mary did a wonderful job of making sure He was front and center – exactly where He should be. Winter and Ty’s constant dialogue with God is refreshing, and their first instinct is to take their problems to Him, no matter what their situation is, or how difficult getting an answer to their prayers may seem.
This book is exceptional and I enjoyed watching this sweet love story unfold. The Christian themes are refreshing and touching, and Mary developed characters I cared about. One I want to read again, this book is a great reminder that God is always by our side, guiding us, gently prodding us to do His will so we can experience His perfect plan.
Mary and her brother, Lance Simmons, wrote "Only You," a beautiful worship song for Winter's Past that is available to listen to on Lance's website.