Elle is the quirky, artistic, yet capable and down-to-earth girl next door...in small town, America. The kind of girl who can never find her other flip-flop but knows to what to check on her boat before leaving the dock. We met her in Sweet Caroline and I couldn't wait to hear more of her story. Elle doesn't realize how captivating she is, but she draws you in as a reader as much as she draws in the other characters in the story.
Elle is an artist who, after getting feedback that her talent wasn't good enough, opened up an art gallery (her other passion) to be near the thing she loved most - art. She also loves living in her small town in South Carolina where she grew up. It's comfortable and it's safe.
She has fallen for the dynamic pastor of her church. Jeremiah seeps confidence and she gladly hands over her heart to him. When she accepts his proposal she has no idea of just how much her world is about to get rocked. He had just accepted a large pastorate in Dallas and their engagement soon becomes long distance as he starts his new job. Elle spends her time packing and selling her successful art gallery. She didn't realize how hard it would be to leave the life she knew and loved, but she was a trooper and was going to do whatever it took to be a good wife.
"Little doubts crept in at the oddest times."
In the midst of transferring her old life to her new life with Jeremiah she realizes he's become a different person with this new job. She becomes lower on his priority list and things are not running as smoothly as before. Was this just part of "growing up" and learning how to mix two lives together?
Elle also rents out her house to widower Heath McCord and his daughter, but a miscommunication lands him there sooner rather than later. As Elle sorts out her engagement with Jeremiah, she becomes friends with her new tenant and also learns how to listen to God.
I liked how Love Starts With Elle had so many different facets to it. We're drawn into not just Elle's life but also the people around her. The lady who helps her build a relationship with God. Jeremiah. Heath and his daughter. Elle's sister, Julianne. With all that variety I feel that many people could read this book and each bring something completely different away from it.
I could relate with Elle in that she seemed confident on the outside but on the inside was full of a variety of doubts. Elle is also willing to do what it takes to make things work, while noting that the same thought keeps popping up. "Little doubts crept in at the oddest times." Just jitters? Should she ignore it?
There was so much I loved about this book, but I think the thing I loved most was the message that says by all means, fall in love, but don't fall in love blindly; things aren't always what they seem. Being single is hard but deciding to get married can be even harder if you're not careful. Rachel shows us how easy it is to get caught up in what we think or feel is right.
Rachel also does a wonderful job of showing how if we would just trust God with every aspect of our lives that he will work it out (a lesson I still need to learn). His plans are way better than our own. Elle nearly missed a beautiful, artistic moment because she was trying to protect her pride instead of letting herself be vulnerable and see where God takes her.
Interested in winning a copy of this book? Love Starts With Elle is going on a blog tour starting next week and I'll be giving away an extra copy. Don't you dare think that I'd give away my only copy!
Updated to say...the giveaway is up and going! Go over to my other blog to enter! The drawing is on October 20th.