THE PROMISE is the second book in the Restoration series by author Dan Walsh and marriage and family expert Gary Smalley. If you read the first installment, THE DANCE, you’ll remember it focused on Jim and Marilyn Anderson, as they dealt with serious marriage issues and separation. The family’s story continues with a glimpse into the life and marriage of Jim and Marilyn’s son.
Five months ago, Tom Anderson lost his job. And he’s been keeping it from his wife, Jean, ever since. Every morning, he kisses Jean and the kids and leaves the house, as if he’s going to work. Instead, he spends his days at area coffee shops, scouring the Internet for employment and trying to figure out how he’s going to pay his bills. He even entertains the thought of robbing a bank. In the evenings, he returns home to his family and pretends everything is fine.
But “fine” couldn’t be farther from the truth.
"Walsh and Smalley prove once again that not only are they masters of relationship matters, they also give women a run for their money in writing an excellent romance novel. THE PROMISE is a touching read, filled with wisdom, honesty, and the art of developing a God-centered marriage."
Tom’s reason for secrecy started as a desire to protect Jean from the financial stress and worry that would surely come with the news of his job loss. He thought he’d find work quickly, so why bother upsetting his wife? But the days turned into weeks and dragged into months. By then, Tom knew losing his job wouldn’t be the most upsetting to Jean. It would be the fact that he didn’t tell her and had lied to her every day for the past five months. How on earth could he tell her now?
But Tom knows deep down that it’s not just Jean he’s worried about. The person he really wants to keep this from is his father, who is sure to come down on him with a million “I told-you-so’s” and remind him what a failure he was. His dad’s criticism and disappointment would be more than he could bear.
With a few “coincidental” incidents and a little intervention from a faith-filled uncle, Tom finally has to face the consequences of his decisions. The question is not only will God forgive him, but have his poor choices cost him his marriage and family?
Meanwhile, Jim and Marilyn are on a second honeymoon of sorts in Italy. Readers get to see the new and improved Jim Anderson. He is not perfect but is doing his best to apply the principles and tools he has learned in the past few months to become the man God wants him to be. And Marilyn is falling in love with her husband again.
What I love most about this book --- this series, really --- is that it not only presents a marriage problem and resolution, it also delves deep into the motivations and reasons behind the actual issues and behavior. The authors take a good look at the role fathers play in their families, and the heavy responsibility that lies on their shoulders to instill a sense of identity and purpose into their kids, as well as to set an example of what a godly marriage looks like. In no way is this a cop-out for grown men to say “it’s my father’s fault that I’m the way I am.” Men (and women) need to take responsibility for their actions, but also realize that their wrong attitudes, behaviors and heart issues were shaped according to how they were raised. Taking an honest look at our hearts and why we’ve come to do the things we do is what institutes change in our lives and ultimately passes on to our children.
The characters have real flaws, and the problems they face are ones we can all relate to in one way or another. The authors also remind us how God often uses other people to reach us in ways we never expect. In this case, He uses Uncle Henry --- a man who is very in tune with His still small voice and who acts on the promptings he feels in his spirit.
There are plenty of opportunities for tears, so keep the tissues handy. There are also practical lessons for every couple, no matter where you are in your marriage. Walsh and Smalley prove once again that not only are they masters of relationship matters, they also give women a run for their money in writing an excellent romance novel. THE PROMISE is a touching read, filled with wisdom, honesty, and the art of developing a God-centered marriage.
I’m looking forward to book number three from this gifted author duo.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on October 16, 2013