Divorce never crossed Kimberly Tucker's mind until a year ago when her husband, Charlie, had an affair and announced he was leaving her and their two boys. As the story begins, Kimberly is in court, trying to convince a judge of Charlie's improper behavior --- like allowing various women to parade in and out of his home while the boys are visiting. Kimberly asks the judge to shorten Charlie's five consecutive weeks with the boys this summer to a briefer visit. Unfortunately, the judge simply warns Charlie to maintain his focus during visitations and denies Kimberly's request.
Kimberly says goodbye to her boys. Disheartened and a little angry, she wonders how she'll get through the next few weeks. Then her father suggests she go to their summer vacation home in Cedar Key to find someone to replace their longtime housekeeper, Eliana, who recently passed away. Kimberly has avoided going back to her childhood vacation home since the death of her mother. Cedar Key holds too many memories she would rather not revisit. At her father's insistence, she agrees, but only plans to stay for a couple of days.
Upon arriving, she runs into Steven Granger, a boy she fell in love with at 16. He was her first love. Even though it was a long time ago, seeing Steven causes unresolved feelings to rise to the surface. She still feels the sting of pain as she thinks back to the summer when he left for college. She thought they'd be together forever, and was shocked when he ended up marrying another girl. Now divorced himself, with one college-aged daughter, it's clear that Steven wants to pursue the relationship he abandoned years ago. As they reconnect, Kimberly holds back, unsure if she is ready to open up her heart again, especially to someone who broke it once before.
Author Eva Marie Everson is a masterful wordsmith. Her descriptions of Cedar Key are breathtaking and made me want to jump in the car and take off for this beautiful place where, according to Kimberly's father, "magic happens."
The story doesn't cover just the present, but also reverts back, recounting events that took place when Kimberly was little. It offers the flashback viewpoints of both Kimberly and Steven, which helped to fit all the pieces of their past romance together. There are even chapters from the viewpoint of the housekeeper, Eliana, now deceased, whose daughter Rosa played a big part in Kimberly's childhood. And finally, a couple of chapters are written from the perspective of Patsy Milstrap, Kimberly's elderly neighbor. These chapters set the stage for the next book in the series, which tells Patsy's story. Definitely worth mentioning, the friendship that formed between Kimberly and Patsy was endearing. I would love to see this expounded upon in the next book.
CHASING SUNSETS refreshingly covers many topics that are sometimes taboo in Christian fiction, such as divorce (especially dual divorce), alcoholism and enabling, and teen pregnancy. Everson handles these issues with care, but doesn't sugarcoat them. The characters and the storyline felt very honest and real, with the Christian aspect always being a factor. Although Kimberly's relationship with God has been slightly faltering lately, she never completely gives up on God. Questioning our faith at times is normal and helps us grow even more. Characters like Patsy and Steven talk about their faith, but everything comes directly out of who they are and doesn't feel forced or preachy.
The only thing that left me slightly disappointed was that the story ended rather abruptly and left me wanting more. I felt there could have been more closure to the plot. The first chapter of SEEKING SUNRISE, the next book in the Cedar Key series, is included at the end, which starts off in 1964 with Patsy Milstrap. After reading CHASING SUNSETS, I suspect you will look forward to Patsy's story as much as I will.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on November 13, 2011