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Reviewed by Cecelia Hopkins for Readers' Favorite
If Only by Joan Fennell Carringer tells the story of Rylee, who married boyfriend Jace on a drunken impulse in Vegas, and is now a discontented housewife. She has continued hankering after her childhood crush Koy, who returns to town, triggering all her regrets. After an angel called Jack appears and makes some thought-provoking observations, Rylee decides to do volunteer work to fill her time. At this point, everyone she encounters appears to be a Christian and reminds her of her lapsed spirituality. Jace does not oppose her activity as much as expected and appears to be softening. Eventually, Rylee realizes she loves her husband. Unfortunately, Jace has an accident and loses his memory...
If Only by Joan Fennell Carringer combines chick lit with Christian speculative fiction in a well-presented package. I particularly enjoyed the second chance romance aspect of the story and liked the fact that the character’s awakening spirituality came across as personal development. There were several directions the plot could have taken, and I appreciated the way Carringer kept me guessing, as surprises are less common in romantic fiction than in other genres. The characters were well rounded and capable of development, allowing Carringer to explore issues of responsibility and consequences. True to the title, If Only included an interesting examination of hindsight and choice, leaving me glad that I had read the story. If Only by Joan Carringer has a truly Christian aspect but does not preach, making the book effective as light inspirational fiction.