Rekindled romance. Judgmental friends and family. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Miscommunication. Forgiveness. These are some of the recurring themes of A Heart to Heal by Synithia Williams. This book is her third in a series and features the story of Shayla Monroe and Devin Jones who were once high school sweethearts in the small town of Helena, South Carolina. And Helena is a small town indeed. Shayla returns to town to escape an embarrassing scandal in Atlanta, only to be forced to deal with more judgment and recrimination from family and townsfolk. From her mother to her “frenemies” from her high school clique to patrons at the local diner, Shayla faces scorned looks and nasty comments on a daily basis. Despite having his heart broken by her past behavior, Devin seems to be one of a few people willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. But that’s because he can’t help but love her, flaws and all.
Devin, now the town doctor, is by far the most likable character in the book, with his father Roscoe Jones running a close second. The author does a great job of developing his character into a hero the reader will fall in love with. He’s principled, forgiving, considerate, honest and sexy as sin. With her reputation in shambles Shayla tends to behave in ways that reinforces people’s opinion of her, and ultimately the negative beliefs she has about herself, which I assume was the author’s way to keep conflict between the two lovers going. But her behavior soon became irritating. After a while, I just wanted Shayla to have an honest conversation with Devin, clear the air once and for all, instead of her continuing to feel that the man was just too good for her.
A Heart to Heal was my first offering from Synithia Williams. Even though she created interesting characters, snappy dialogue and a contemporary storyline, Ms. Williams’ editing issues made reading slow-going. Dialogue punctuation was too frequently incorrect, questions asked were conspicuously missing their question marks, and quite a few sentences ran together. I certainly hope her earlier novels received a more thorough inspection. But diehard fans of Ms. Williams will enjoy this story, flaws and all.
-Reviewed by Angela