More than I Bargained For by Julie Arduini

Now that I have a Kindle, there is yet another facet to my reading life. As a writer I read to learn. Although I’m looking at the story my focus is on the “back-end” of things such as the plot, POV, characterization, and dialogue. Reading other fiction and writing how-to books sharpen my skills.

I also read to review. I enjoy participating in Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program where bloggers receive a free book, read it, and both blog about it on their site and post a commercial review. I’m also a part of many Litfuse Publicity Group blog tours so I do the same thing with them as BookSneeze. Although it is relaxing and fun this form of reading feels like it is in a category of its own.

Most readers do so for the fun of it. It’s a hobby, relaxing, an escape, and sparks our imagination like nothing else. This is my favorite aspect but the more I write, the less I read for fun. My escape is fiction, mostly contemporary romance, but anything geared for women is game.  I learned something earlier this year when I picked up a couple books for escape and found something completely different:

The books made me look inward at my past and what issues I was stuffing. By the end of those reads I enjoyed them but it wasn’t an escape, it was an experience. I finished wanting to make positive change in my life.

These books rocked me to the core. The characters and their conflict was a word created mirror to reflect my heart and the issues I needed to take a look at and give to God. Where some might have found a book sounding too close to home distracting, I felt it was a little nudge from my Heavenly Father. I didn’t just read those two books; I devoured them.

What were they?

Kathryn Cushman’s Another Dawn

(From Bethany House Publishers/back cover)

What Would You Give for a Second Chance to Make Things Right?

When life gets complicated, Grace Graham runs. She’s left romantic relationships, friendships, and even her family after the death of her mother. But now her sister, Jana, is giving her once last chance: Come home and help care for their father–whom Grace still blames for her mother’s death–or never show her face in Shoal Creek, Tennessee, again.

With her son, Dylan, in tow, Grace returns home from California. But is she returning for the right reasons? And when costly decisions from the past suddenly put her son’s life and the lives of other children in town at risk, will she have the strength to stand strong and await Another Dawn?

The issue with the children at risk was a compelling one but that wasn’t what got to me. It was Grace’s recollection of her childhood and her adult choices because of them. Her walls are up and she’s made a vow never to return to her hometown. Although my circumstances weren’t that dramatic I remember making a vow when I moved 300 miles away from everything I knew and everyone I loved. My vow came from a potpourri of past experiences and current devastation.  When it came to relationships I was classic to walk away first to avoid what I thought was inevitable. Reading Another Dawn forced me to look at my vows and behaviors.

Christa Allan’s Walking on Broken Glass


Leah Thornton’s life, like her Southern Living home, has great curb appeal. But a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen apple juice in the supermarket shatters the façade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears. When her best friend gets in Leah’s face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make an agonizing decision. Can she sacrifice what she wants to get what she needs? Joy, sadness, and pain converge, testing Leah’s commitment to her marriage, her motherhood, and her faith.

This book had funny dialogue but the reality that Leah has a problem and needs more help than her husband and friends can give hit so close to home I realized more than once I was holding my breath. I don’t want to give away spoilers but I know the environment she describes. I understand her roller coaster of emotions as she is forced to face her feelings. I’ve been the best friend and I’ve needed the best friend.

Did I finish those books thinking what a respite, I’m so relaxed now that I got to read? No, and that’s okay. Something even better took place in between those pages.

I received God’s love and  His direction.

How about you? Was there a book or two that you thought would be a fast read and in turn flipped your world upside down because it addressed the condition of your heart?

Surrendering the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate

About juliearduini

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and ---maybe one day---the chocolate. She’s the author of the contemporary romance series SURRENDERING TIME, (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged,) as well as the stand-alone novellas, MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. She also shares her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. Her other latest release, YOU’RE BRILLIANT, is for girls ages 10-100, written with her teenaged daughter, Hannah, and is book 3 in their SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ series. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read, as well as monthly with Inspy Romance. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at, where she invites readers to opt in to her content full of resources and giveaway opportunities.
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2 Responses to More than I Bargained For by Julie Arduini

  1. Julie:
    I’m sitting in Starbucks reading your blog, and my eyes are stinging from tears. Truly. Your honesty and vulnerability grabbed my heart. Thanks for not only reading my novel, but for seeing how many ways God can reach us.

    Bless you.


  2. juliearduini says:

    I appreciate your kind comment. My prayer is in those dark, lonely times when you ask God are you really meant to write the words He is giving you that you remember the impact for Him you have.


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