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Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite
Rachelle Ayala’s "Hidden Under Her Heart" is a wild roller coaster ride of emotions, drama and choices. Maryanne is a dedicated nurse who is a total failure at relationships; at least she thinks so, and has vowed to remain celibate until she finds a suitable man to marry. Then there is Lucas, a lapsed law student-turned-athlete. Lucas is charming, funny and sweet and of course, Maryanne is besotted. To Maryanne however, Lucas is more besotted with his triathlon, so she goes where all good celibate girls to find love: church.
Thinking that a “nice religious man” would be her savior ends up being Maryanne’s downfall but it is also what gives this tale such emotional depth. What is great about this story is that Ayala does not beat the reader over the head with her beliefs on reproductive rights and plunges the reader to heart of the matter as it stands to Maryanne, which is really what matters. The growth of Lucas from an immature boy to a man was spectacular and shows the mark of a great storyteller. The bond between Maryanne and Lucas grows from simple fondness to deep love, forcing them both to decide what things are important and what is just window dressing. At times Maryanne’s naivete will make you want to grab her and shake her, but Ayala does a great job of painting a picture of what a woman who has been victimized to this degree feels. Overall this was a compelling tale that was beautifully written.