by Bobbi Smith

January 2005
ISBN: 0-8439-5312-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Leisure Books
Mass Market Paperback

Haven is the church, Our Lady, in which four very distinct people gather to try and work through their problems. Jenny is pregnant, and the father wants nothing to do with the baby. Jenny finds herself attending mass daily. Darrell, an ex con, has seen a crime. Now he finds himself the target of the guilty party. Seeking shelter, he ducks into Our Lady. Dorothy, a regular member of Our Lady, is privately going through a separation with her husband. She chooses not to tell anyone and tries to work through it privately. Joe is a regular member of Our Lady who finds himself wanting to reach out wherever he is needed to spread good and happiness to those hurting.

This novel is completely different from any other novel published by Bobbi Smith. I enjoy seeing authors break out of the mold and write different things. Perhaps the best stories ever written or read were written not to fit a category but more to tell the story. They let you see the people or the situation.

But in this case I am unsure as to what type of reader would really enjoy this story. Typically in inspirational novels, there is very little sex, and itís always in a committed relationship or a complete part of the past. However, Haven contained several love scenes, and I canít think of one that fell within the normal inspirational boundaries so I would hesitate to recommend this to all inspirational fans.

Haven has a lot more characters than the typical romance story. I found there to be way too much head hopping to stay inside one character long enough to get the feel for that particular person. The characters arenít well developed. We see them and know their stories, but we donít feel them or feel with them.

With that being said, if you took the inspirational label off this book, slapped it into general fiction or womenís fiction where it probably should be instead, I would say the book could live up to the readerís expectations. Itís not that I disliked the story. I actually found it to be a very good idea. Based somewhat on the premise of the Pay It Forward concept, it is a unique thought, and my only criticism is that somehow the thought didnít expand out. It got formulated. I guess I think thereís more to the story than what we saw. There were things held back, like more in depth characters.

As it stands, this is an okay book. If the author recreated it and added some depth to the scenes and people, I would certainly say it could be an outstanding book. And it is in no way shape or form, an inspirational novel in the sense of religious. Though the story revolved around church and Catholicism, there were several things in which a straight inspirational reader would take issue. This was much more a general fiction book that revolves around several people and incidents which turn out in the end to be happy and feel good.

Reviewed in January 2005 by Katy.

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