post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Painted Memories
Author: A.M. Heath
Series: Art of Love, #2
Major Themes: Korean War, Memory Loss, Painters, Romance
Synopsis: Grady and Olivia have been sweethearts for years. But when Grady loses his memory due to an accident while away at war, will they be able to find each other again?
Several months ago, after signing up for a blog tour for Painted Memories, the author contacted me to ask if I could do a little typo-spotting for her as I read the book. Sure, why not? So I ended up reading the book a bit earlier than planned—but wow. What a great story! I didn’t know if I would like it or not, after seeing that the first page…or maybe two…sounded like the start of a romance story, but I persevered, and now it’s one of my favorite books by this author, if not my most favorite! I read the first book in this series, Dance With Me, several years ago, and that’s set in approximately the same time period. But this one…well, it’s even better than the first book!
Olivia’s life is perfect. She and her long-time sweetheart, Grady, are more in love than ever, and due to get married soon. Though the Korean War has come up and Grady has been called away to do his duty, they’ll marry as soon as he gets home—and she prays that will be soon. Meanwhile, she clings to the paintings he did of her on their sun-kissed afternoons together. And then the unthinkable happens—Grady turns up missing in action, and she must somehow learn to accept the worst.
Meanwhile, Johnny Allen has no recollection of life before the war—he survived a severe brain injury, but lost his memory in the process. And there was no documentation on him when he was found to tell anyone who he was. Though he struggles to remember something—anything—nothing comes. He wants to move forward; he’s met a wonderful woman he wants to marry, but he’s afraid he’s left a wife and family behind somewhere, and has no way to know if that’s the case or not. All he has is a haunting picture of a girl’s face, one he’s compelled to paint over and over in an attempt to find out what she has to do with his past.
Painted Memories is so sweet, and generally goes the direction you’d wish it to go. It’s not a light read—the aftereffects of grief are very visible here—but I loved watching the characters being forced to grow in faith and trust as they moved through the story. Sometimes, I got quite annoyed at Olivia’s inability to move forward; her grief was all-consuming at times, and that didn’t feel completely realistic to me. However, in retrospect, I think that was perfect—sometimes, especially when grieving the unknown, it does take a long time to get through things.
This is a beautiful story of hope and grief, joy, and learning to follow the Lord’s leading. And a good mystery in a way, too, as the main characters tried to find each other, with varying measures of success! Recommended.
I was given a review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it—but I did end up buying my own copy of it afterward.
WARNING: Throughout the book (in nearly every chapter), there is kissing and/or touching between unmarried characters—generally mentioned, not described. Words or phrases along the lines of “darn”, “in heaven’s name”, “gee”, etc. are used a few times. And at one point, a woman lies to her parents and fiancé about what she’s doing while she’s trying to find her missing sweetheart.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Keywords: Artists, Korean War, Memory Loss, Painters, Paintings, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance Fiction, 20th Century History, 1950-2000 History, North America, Books for Women