If you're a Christian fiction fan who enjoys The Yada Yada Prayer Group series, books about women and crafts, or chick-lit, then check out PRINTS CHARMING, Rebeca Seitz's debut novel. Numerous Christian novels have developed plot narratives around quilting, but this may be the first to use scrapbooking as its motif.
The plot begins as we meet self-employed publicist Jane Sandburg, who has expected to marry her Tennessee sweetheart, Bill, since junior high. They have the perfect wedding, right down to the correct shade of gold ribbons on each pew. But two years later, his cheatin' heart has caught up with them and Jane is forced to face the truth about her less-than-dreamboat husband. "What do women do with all the things they acquired during their marriage when it ends? Post them on eBay?" she muses. After their divorce, her Sisters, Ink scrapbooking friends and her faithful dog, Wilson, are all that keep her holding on to her sanity.
Using multiple points of view, Seitz introduces us to the carefully chosen, diversely ethnic characters who will form the spiritual and relational backbone of the novel (here's where The Yada Yada Prayer Group faintly echoes). Lydia is Jane's best friend and the happily married mother of twins. But the zing has gone out of her marriage, and even wearing lingerie with the logo of her husband's favorite sports team isn't getting his attention. McKenzie "Mac" is the African-American mother of Tabby, a young single mom and former drug addict who is in and out of jail and always in trouble. Seitz does a nice job portraying the Latino Mari's sweet romantic relationship with her husband, John. The couple has a little girl, Emmy, but after experiencing "secondary infertility" they are adopting another from Chile. This provides some of the more dramatic moments in the novel.
Non-scrappers will find themselves confronted with a whole new world, complete with its own language: "Click-its," "vellum" and "die-cuts." Those who love scrapbooking will enjoy details about scrapbook supply sales, creating the perfect scrapbook page, and the ins and outs of recording life's memories.
Readers will see the romance coming from the earliest pages in the form of Jake, a handsome newcomer to Jane's neighborhood who, of course, she can't stand. "…There's no way on God's green earth I would consider that man for one second. Scratch that --- one millisecond." Romance novel veterans won't be surprised what this foreshadows. However, Jake has a hidden past that may put their newfound romance in jeopardy. Or is it Jane who is harboring a secret? When Jane's ex, Bill, returns, wanting to resume their relationship, things start cooking. Keep reading….
Any woman whose husband has fooled around with an Internet romance will cheer when Jane bashes a pile of AOL disks with a hammer (courtesy of her new romantic interest). As with most first novels, there are a few glitches, including some missing transitions and a strange paragraph where Lydia seems to think Emmy is her daughter (she's really Mari's). The African-American and Latino dialogue seem a little forced ("You best be makin' sure you ready to be courted"), and there's also a blatant plug for the author's friend's novels. The Christian lingo gets a little heavy when the characters start recommending Gary Chapman's book, THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, to each other, complete with an explanation of each. This is good stuff for nonfiction but feels out of place in a novel.
Although the book doesn't say it's a series, the way readers are left hanging on the last page invites a sequel. Those who enjoy PRINTS CHARMING eagerly will await the next installment.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on March 13, 2007