Review

The Dance: The Restoration Series, Book 1

by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley

What do you get when you put together a bestselling romance author and one of the world’s best-known marriage experts? A great novel about marriage, of course!

Marilyn Anderson is simply fed up with her marriage. It’s not that her husband Jim hasn’t been a good provider. In fact, he has given her everything she could ever want --- materialistically speaking. The one thing he hasn’t given her is the one thing she needs the most: love. And to Marilyn, love consists of more than a hefty paycheck. It involves intimacy, affection and communication, none of which she has gotten much of in the past 27 years. She has tried many times to connect with him and talk to him about her needs, but her attempts have gone in one ear and out the other. At her wits end, she does the only thing she feels is left to do. She leaves.

"What do you get when you put together a bestselling romance author and one of the world’s best-known marriage experts? A great novel about marriage, of course!... “Restoration” is a perfect title for a series that offers food for thought and hope for renewal, especially for those who feel that there is no hope left."

When Jim comes home from work to an empty house, he’s confused. Marilyn always has dinner in the oven by now. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that she’s gone. And a phone call to his daughter Michele confirms that his wife has no intention of coming back anytime soon. Michele mentions a letter that Marilyn supposedly left for him in their bedroom. When he reads it, he’s even more confused. And a bit angry. How dare she leave him! Hasn’t he always given her everything she could ever want?

Meanwhile, Marilyn is renting a room from a single woman in town. She gets a job --- something Jim has always discouraged, even though she’s been wanting to get out of the house and work now that her youngest son is in high school. Marilyn also decides to do something she has always had a passion to do: take dancing lessons. Jim has never once danced with her, not even at their own wedding! Marilyn has gotten emotional at every wedding they’ve attended together over the years, resenting the fact that Jim has never danced with her. Now their daughter is getting married, and Marilyn is glad that Michele will be able to experience the bridal dance with her new husband.

The rest of the story involves Jim getting a much-needed wake-up call about the part he has played in causing the damage to his marriage. The theme is really a thought-provoking message about what marriage is. And what it is not. It’s about how you sometimes have to go to drastic measures to get someone’s attention. And how important it is to listen to the needs of your spouse and to take a true look at what makes a successful marriage. And to realize that even though some needs are universal (support, respect, encouragement), others are specific to the relationship.

There is a major plot point that keeps the story moving along and drives Jim’s progress, which I found to be engaging and clever, but I won’t go into detail here so as not to give anything away. Let’s just say that it offers an excellent metaphor between dancing and marriage that sticks with you long after the story ends.

Author Dan Walsh weaves yet another warm and honest tale he’s known for, creating characters you can’t help but care about. Gary Smalley brings his knowledge and expertise on the subject of marriage from years of counseling married couples. Together, Walsh and Smalley form a wonderful combination of sensitivity, thoughtfulness and truth. While the biggest transformation is in Jim, Marilyn also learns a few things about herself along the way.

THE DANCE is the first of four books in the Restoration series. If this first effort is any indication, “Restoration” is a perfect title for a series that offers food for thought and hope for renewal, especially for those who feel that there is no hope left.

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on April 12, 2013

The Dance: The Restoration Series, Book 1
by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley