The year was 1918, and although America had declared war on Germany nearly a year ago, no doughboys had yet engaged in combat. Though over a million British, French and German soldiers had already been killed in battle, in many parts of the United States, life went on as it always had; in Boston, cultural and educational activities flourished. It was a true melting pot of ethnic and social groups; some could trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower, while others would prefer not to talk about theirs.
As an immigrant himself, Dylan Cooper was fascinated by the faces of those getting their first glimpse of America. Such was the case as he captured on film the young mother, cradling her infant as the train came to a stop. “Her chin was raised in triumph, her eyes aglow with the knowledge that her yearning to be free was about to be realized, her heart thumping in anticipation of a long sought-after new beginning." It was the first picture he developed as he settled into the tiny room that offered a closet to be used for his darkroom. Two dollars and fifty cents a week got him the space he needed to begin his career (the fifty cents was for electricity). And the photograph that he had dubbed "Madonna and Child" was to play a significant role in his life.
Tim LaHaye and Gregory S. Dinallo have moved away from their former, more biblically themed writings like BABYLON RISING and have displayed again their multifaceted skills in bringing to life a cast of characters that will inspire and frustrate but never bore readers. While there are many clear gospel messages presented in ALWAYS GRACE, they do not form the centerpiece of the story. Instead, we are led through an astonishing romance that begins when Dylan sees the beautiful Grace MacVicar working in a gallery that he hopes will exhibit his photographs.
Dylan and Grace are soulmates in the true sense of the word, and as their love grows, the skilled romance reader will begin to wonder when the conflict will come in. Though Grace has a brother who is charged with watching over her, Colin is not strong enough to keep her away from Dylan, and they are happily married. However, when the war comes to America, the newlyweds are separated and soon Grace is notified that Dylan has been killed in action. What a tragic, heartbreaking time for Grace as she leaves America and returns to Scotland.
When Dylan comes back to discover that Grace is gone, he vows to find her no matter how long it takes. Meanwhile, the beginnings of the Great Depression have caused financial problems, work and money become scarce, and life is difficult. Dylan is forced to come to terms with his beliefs, not only his faith but his work ethic --- once again questioning whether art can be considered art if it is commercialized.
As the authors pull all of the elements together in this wonderful saga, both your emotions and your faith will be stretched. And that’s a good thing.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on March 1, 2008