A Heart Surrendered by Joy K. Massenburge is so much more than a romance.
Sharonda Peterson’s life doesn’t belong to her.
Her life belongs to her mother, her father, her church, and soon it will belong to Brice, an up and coming pastor candidate whose real reason for choosing Sharonda is he wants boy babies and someone he can control.
By the end of the first chapter, I was fully immersed into Sharonda’s miserable life. As the story moves forward, we learn her mother, a mentally unstable pastor’s wife, is the one who’s really in control through her vicious tongue, temper tantrums, and demands. The mother not only wants to control of Sharonda, she tries to control everyone around her. Maybe she isn’t mentally unstable after all. Could her problems stem from something else?
Sharonda deals with her problems by trying to keep the piece, trying to appease her mother, and trying to keep up the front her family needs to look good to the church. And by eating. All the while, she is shriveling up inside with a futile sense of worthlessness. Sharonda’s issues are compounded by fibroid tumors and endrometriosis and a fear that she may not be able to give Brice the boy babies he wants.
She had love once but…
…the relationship got messed up with a Biblically old sin, one that allows the self-righteous church board to pass judgement, something they are ready to do to the neediest young person in the congregation.
Throughout this fast-paced story my heart broke for Sharonda. I wanted to slap her mother silly and open the eyes of her pastor father. And I wanted her to be victorious. The wisest member of the family was Janice, the younger sister who came across as hard and tough at the beginning.
A Heart Surrendered is more than a romance.
It also touches on how damaging legalism and manmade rules are within the church system and how they hurt church members. The story shows how making unrealistic demands can foster rebellion and result in unforgiveness and ruined lives. And how the shallow act of keeping up outward appearances imbeds itself deeply, nearly destroying a family. The story shows how tyranny, ego, image, self-righteousness, and unforgiveness eat away at the soul. Sadly, this is repeated frequently in real life.
Like all good romances, A Heart Surrendered has a happily ever after. In fact, it has several. Joy K. Massenburge succeeded in pulling me into her story and keeping me engaged all the way through. Once I started reading, I found it hard to stop until I reached the end. My only objection is that I would have liked a little more at the end, maybe a view of a few months or years down the road.
Though I’m required to tell you I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, and a review was not required, I would have purchased and reviewed A Heart Surrendered anyway, as I really enjoy, and learn from this author.