Who wants to read a book about happily married people? Well, if the author of the book is Mary Flinn, I do. It would be easy to dismiss «Three Gifts» as a romance novel, but it is more than that. Few romance novels tell the story of what happened after the wedding; we’ve all heard jokes about how once they were married, Prince Charming made Cinderella clean the castle and the fairy tale was over. But Mary Flinn isn’t afraid of depicting marriage, and she doesn’t write fairy tale romances. Her lovers may be a step above in how they treat one another, but they serve as a beautiful example of what marriage can be if people truly care for one another and do not let the world and other people, or petty jealousies and fears, interfere with their most important relationship.
The two main characters, Chelsea and Kyle, were first introduced to readers in Flinn’s novel «The One» as high school seniors who fell in love. High school romances don’t always last, and Kyle and Chelsea had their share of problems to overcome, but they succeeded so well that «Three Gifts,» third in the series, opens with them getting married. From that opening scene, readers are taken through the first year of Kyle and Chelsea’s married life as they dream about happiness, worry over finances, deal with family crises, and hope for children.
In these pages, there are marital worries, but there are also tender moments. There are ghosts from the past, such as Kyle’s father’s suicide that keeps rearing its ugly head, but there are also moments of healing connected to those sad memories. Beyond the excitement and romance, Kyle and Chelsea find themselves having to dig down deeper to find the love within them that will carry them through the most difficult times.
And for me, perhaps best of all, there are reappearances by a large supporting cast of characters-friends and loving family members-all of whom feel like my old friends from the previous two books «The One» and «Second Time’s a Charm.» The reader is swallowed up into the warmth of these loving people until he (yes, «he») feels like part of the family. Who says romance novels are only for women? Men would enjoy being part of this world, and male characters like Kyle and his best friend Glen, make a perfect entry point into it. After all, what man wouldn’t want a hot babe like Chelsea-especially when her hotness goes beyond her figure to her kindness, her inner strength, and her willingness to put her relationship before everything else? Kyle is a lucky man. What Flinn depicts is what marriage should be and I hope this book makes her readers aspire to such relationships. For me, the magic and wonder you feel when reading «Three Gifts» can be summed up in one sentence from Kyle’s thoughts, «Knowing he would never be alone again filled him with thankfulness.» We should all be as fortunate as Kyle and Chelsea, not only in their love for one another, but in how that love is supported by all those around them.
It is sad to think «Three Gifts» is the last book about these characters. Flinn has plans to write other books not related to this series, which I look forward to, but I hope one day she will allow us to reenter Kyle and Chelsea’s world again.
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