- Title: A Gateway to Hope
- Author: E. C. Jackson
- Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
- Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
- Would I recommend: Excellent for readers who enjoy a clean romance with a strong focus on faith!
Twenty-one-year-old Neka is a bit of an introvert, she also happens to be stunningly beautiful.
When she discovers her friend James is about to be dumped, she sees the perfect opportunity to escape from her quiet life. Can she summon the courage to leave it all behind?
James Copley comes from a ruthless family. It’s rubbed off.
Years ago, he disengaged from his brother’s smear campaign, but now his father has offered him an ultimatum, “Get married or lose your seat at the table.”
Plotting to stamp his design on the family business, he proposes to a woman, even though he doesn’t love her.
But his carefully laid plans start to unravel when she leaves him on the day she’s due to meet his family.
Could years of planning his comeback vanish with her departure?
A possible solution comes in an unexpected form: Neka. She’s not only a friend, but the daughter of his benefactor. And she’s right there, offering to support him.
But will her support stretch to marriage?
He attempts to win her over to his plan but collides with her powerful father who wants to leverage the situation for his own gain.
In their fight for survival and love, they are forced to face some uncomfortable truths.
Can they overcome thwarted dreams and missed chances to find true love, or does forcing destiny’s hand only lead to misery?
A Gateway to Hope is E. C. Jackson’s debut novel. I found it refreshing in its focus on the importance of holding fast to one’s convictions and the way Jackson played up the fact that a strong relationship doesn’t just happen, but takes effort.
James’s father has issued an ultimatum: find a wife or lose your place in the family business. When Neka, a young woman of strong Christian convictions and James’s friend for a number of years, learns that the woman James is engaged to is breaking things off just as James prepares to meet with his father, she jumps headlong into the gap. Neka meets James at the airport, and he sees convincing her to marry him as his only course of action. Given that Neka has loved James for some time, it doesn’t take much convincing for her to say yes.
And then the real work begins.
Neka is a sheltered, introverted, slightly naive young woman, but her faith in God is strong. She is outspoken about her convictions, and sometimes that pushes people away from her (because no one likes to have it pointed out when they’re wrong). James professes faith, too, but he comes from a different lifestyle, a different mindset. His family’s unkind and often unfair treatment of him over the years has left a bitter taste in his mouth, and he’s used to relying on himself and his skills and talents to make decisions. When Neka says yes to his proposal, she soon realizes that they’ll have to work to overcome their differences and build a solid foundation of trust if they hope to have a strong marriage.
Jackson gives us what I imagine is a pretty accurate portrayal of how both families would react to a sudden proposal. James’s parents want to know what happened with the other fiancée, and Neka’s parents question what made her leave so suddenly, without consulting them or letting them know what was going on. Siblings on both sides are a little stand-offish at first, too.
The story didn’t always flow smoothly. At times it felt like an issue popped up that would have to be worked through, and then in the next couple of paragraphs it was resolved, without any real detail as to how that happened. The dialogue felt a little stiff occasionally. But I can see where that could really happen in a situation where you’re marrying into a family much different from yours, where you aren’t sure at the outset whether your fiancé actually loves you.
The relationship Neka has with her family may seem strange to some readers. Even though she is of legal age, it feels like her family expects her to abide by their direction for her, and James’s concerns that she may choose her family over him appear to be legitimate. But she is able to seek her family’s counsel without having them dictate her path as she and James move forward together.
My favorite aspects of the story were Neka’s unwavering faith and the strength of her convictions and the growth we see in James. So many stories play up the physical aspect of a relationship and go from zero to sixty in terms of attraction and acting on that attraction. It was nice here to see Neka standing firm that there would be no sex before marriage, and to see James respecting that. I think that contributed to the characters learning more about each other and not basing their connection first on the chemistry between them.
Not a perfect read, but a very good one! I recommend it for readers who like stories with strong family dynamics, character growth, clean romance, and a focus on Christian faith.
About the author:
E. C. Jackson began her writing career with the full-length play Pajama Party. Thirty-one years later, she adapted the play into Pajama Party: The Story, a companion book to the second book in the five-book standalone Hope series.
Jackson’s favorite pastime is reading fiction. She enjoys taking the journey along with the characters in the books. That also led to her unorthodox approach to story writing. Her vision for each book she writes is to immerse readers into the storyline so they become connected with each character.
“The Write Way: A Real Slice of Life” is the slogan on her website and Facebook author page. She feels that if every person reading her books feels connected to the characters, her job is done.