Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk is a romance novel that explores some tough topics. There are themes surrounding faith, lust, death, abortion and the callings of the heart. With the beautiful, yet vulnerable, Emily and the pitiable Dan, we are given a strong romance that shows the path of two characters and how they finally get the ending they both deserve.
Being a Christian romance novel, there is a focus on the emotions of the characters rather than steamy love scenes. That being said, many of the “dates” and romance sequences are predictable and feel clichéd. There are rolls around in the mud, picnics in classrooms and fun in the pool. It sometimes reads like a culmination of romance films, and this is a pity as there is something wonderfully honest in the love between Dan and Emily. That being said, this book’s “sweet” factor may work with readers who are looking for a quintessential romance story.
The real winners of Ornamental Graces are the characters. Dan is a broken man who slowly begins to heal both with Emily and with his renewed faith in God as well. He is well developed, and by the end, female readers will no doubt appreciate this softer male character. The inclusion of Emily’s family, as well as significant events around Christmas time, add a level of warmth to this novel which ties it up nicely. Astfalk’s good writing will hold your attention and the book has been well edited.
Overall, Ornamental Graces is a sweet romance that will give readers a real study of emotions and how love can grow despite distance, heartache and emotional struggle. It pits two passionate characters against each other in a romance that sometimes feels hopeless. Through prayer, patience and a lot of private moments, we are met with a love story that will make its readers smile.
Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.