An obedient woman saves a motherless child from a dark fate in this Christian romance novel.
Young Rebeccah Johnson, pregnant, marries her boyfriend, Leon Samuels. She ultimately bears three children (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) while struggling to finish college and keep her marriage together. Rebeccah rebels, gets chastised by her parents, and resumes her wifely duties only to die from an aneurysm. In the tunnel of the afterlife, she foresees her son Mark’s violent future and pleads with God to save his life. God tells Rebeccah she cannot go back to Earth, but if she accepts salvation, he will place an intercessor in Mark’s path. Rebeccah agrees and moves into the light while God chooses to awaken Deana Murphy from her coma. College student Deana survived childhood sexual abuse that left her infertile. A car accident sends her to the afterlife, where she likewise pleads with God. He commands her to marry the now-disheveled, depressed Leon and change him. Deana is to prevent the future tragedy in Mark’s life—a school shooting. Discharged from the hospital, she submissively moves, gives up her finance studies for waitressing, charges into Leon’s life (and bed) though she prefers someone else, and mothers the boys. Deana (based on a real-life student, who died) looks fabulous, cooks from scratch proficiently, and transforms the home. This sincere story departs from Haden’s (Six Bullets to Sundown, 2017, etc.) many Westerns. The author offers an intriguing spiritual premise and an effective twist at the end of the tale. But it’s unclear how this deus ex machina plot, with a real death turned into a fictional resurrection in an alternate reality, counters “bad things being blamed on God” and tells “about the good things he does.” Deana is a self-effacing martyr (“Promise not to laugh…I’m a finance major”) who slaves for Leon and blames herself for sexual harassment. And Haden’s repeated rhapsodizing about Deana’s physical beauty becomes cringeworthy. The story is episodic, which could have worked had the protagonist (and God) not been robbed of complexity.
A well-intentioned but uneven what-if fantasy.