From the Start written by Melissa Tagg and published by Bethany House Publishers (2015) is Book 1 of 2 in the Walker Family Series. It is a delightful read for women age 18 and above. The writing is funny, positive and cheerful, even though not everything that happens is upbeat.

Kate Walker, the main character, is in her twenties. She used to believe in romance until she gave her heart to Gil, a married man who lied about his marital status in order to win her affection. Now she is recovering from that experience.

Kate writes made-for-TV screenplays. When she is told a TV network is turning down her screenplays, she puts it all in perspective. Several years ago she had won an Emmy for her writing, but she knows lately her scripts have been lacking something. She considers moving home to Maple Valley, Iowa.

Not far into the story, we are introduced to Colton Greene, a former NFL quarterback who has been forced into early retirement due to a shoulder injury. His best friend is Kate’s brother, Logan Walker. Logan takes Colton home to Maple Valley with him to help his father repair a train depot damaged in a recent tornado. Colton’s manager, knowing Colton can’t play professional football, keeps urging him to find a writer to write his story. Colton is dragging his feet on this suggestion.

In Maple Valley, Colton meets Kate Walker unexpectedly when she lands at home late at night, goes to her room and finds him in her bed! She is shocked and quickly moves to another room. The next day, all is figured out and forgiven. Colton and Kate begin talking.

While living in LA, Colton was very depressed and discouraged after he was forced to give up sports. Also the girl he was recently seeing became engaged to somebody else.Colton finds himself loving small-town Maple Valley and its slower pace. He throws himself into helping Logan’s father prepare the train depot for Depot Day in early October. Kate admires Colton’s qualities of self-sacrifice and hard work. They both begin to think about God and how He might have a purpose in all of the changing events of their lives.

Colton asks Kate to write his story. She agrees and has completed several chapters when she discovers Colton’s parents died when he was nine, and he was in foster care until the age of eighteen. He did have a wonderful caseworker who loved the Lord. He still has many scars from the tragedy in his young life and Kate has trouble getting him to talk about his past.

From the Start is about a romance but it also looks at love between family members and between friends. Webster Hawks, a teenage boy in foster care, is on the football team. He becomes friends with Colton and Colton mentors him. Kate meets Megan, a single, twenty-one-year-old who owns the coffee shop in town and who discovers she is pregnant. Both Kate and Colton become the big brother and sister that these young people never had.

Things are going smoothly when a surprising twist comes about. Just as everyone is gathered for Depot Day to celebrate the newly renovated train station, there is a flood. Every one pitches in and helps with sand bags. Colton and Kate end up at Megan’s house because the bridge has been shut down for the night. That evening Colton takes Kate on a special date. He receives permission from a realtor to take her to a vacant home in town that she has always admired from a distance, but has never visited. They have a picnic and even see a movie.

On the way home, they argue. Colton is having second thoughts about a book being written about him. He has escaped the limelight and doesn’t want to be in it again. Kate doesn’t agree. Writing the book was going to help her and she had her heart set on it.  She wants to go back to Megan’s place, but he thinks they should talk. Colton keeps driving, and a deer runs across the road. Another vehicle hits their car. Colton’s knee is injured; Kate has broken some bones and is rushed to the hospital. He stays by her side.

Colton tells her family what has happened. They are forgiving, but he is convinced Kate won’t want anything to do with him. He feels responsible for her injuries and for disappointing her about the book. He decides to leave town and return to LA for awhile. Kate is very hurt that he has left without saying goodbye, but she understands how bad he must feel so she waits on the Lord to discover His plan. After Kate recovers, she returns to Chicago.

The story continues to twist and turn but it ends happily. The two of them discover a new faith, a ministry, and a lasting relationship with each other.

I enjoyed reading all the details in this story. It definitely kept my attention, and as always, kept me up at night. I learned that God’s plans for us are often very different from our own. In the end, His plans are better and more wonderful than anything we could think or imagine.  He uses all the joy and hardships to mold us into the vessels he wants us to be for His glory.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

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