cover image Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart

Kelly Irvin. Zondervan, $16.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-84070-941-7

An unlikely pair finds love amid challenging circumstances in Irvin’s wrenching latest (after The Heart’s Bidding). Auctioneer Declan Miller has had a crush on Bethel King since the two were in high school together. While she’s charmed by his “sunny smile and sweet attitude,” 24-year-old Bethel has bigger things on her mind: her 13-year-old sister has recently begun to exhibit symptoms of muscular dystrophy, which also afflicts Bethel’s two younger brothers, whom she spends much of her time caring for. Eager to prove he’s matured since his class clown days, Declan makes an effort to keep Bethel’s brothers in good spirits, and she begins to see humor’s value “in the midst of trials.” Just when she’s started to change her mind about Declan, however, his own health takes a turn for the worse, threatening his livelihood, the pair’s chances at a future, and Bethel’s faith in a God who would permit such suffering. Irvin gracefully braids together themes of sorrow and faith with a sweet opposites-attract romance. Though the message that disabilities and illness are “Gott’s will” won’t resonate with all readers, this is sure to tug on the heartstrings. (July)