June 16, 2013

Book Review: Hidden Under Her Heart

Hidden Under Her Heart
By Rachelle Ayala

Meet The Author:

How did you first decide that you would become an author?
I always enjoyed writing short stories or satires, but never took it seriously until Michal jumped off the pages of Scripture and into my imagination. Here was a woman who was much maligned and misunderstood, because she was too independent and dared to defy authority in a time when women were viewed as property. Michal loved David before he became King. She defied her father to save his life, but was repaid with his marrying other wives and concubines. Her most famous act was to scold David for dancing lewdly in front of the Ark of the Covenant, which at this point, she is never heard from again. To me, there is an unfinished story begging to be told and while studying Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary, I found a comment on 2nd Samuel 3:5 that led me to believe that David actually loved Michal and there was a tragic reason why she never had a son who became king. Obviously I mixed fantasy with fact, motivated by the need to tell Michal's story in a way that is affirming to this great woman who saved not only David, but the line to Jesus Christ, yet was unappreciated and scorned by most preachers.

Is there any special way you come up with the ideas for your books?
Ideas take life on their own. I honestly don't know where they start, but once I start, I play out scenarios in my mind as if I were watching a movie. My most creative times are when I'm jogging. So I should do that more often. I start with a general conflict and set of characters, and from there, the story comes together as I write and daydream. For example, while working on Knowing Vera, I introduced a minor character named Krista. I thought about her background, what she wants, dreams about and why? Something comes to mind about protecting dugongs. What's a dugong? Why is this knocking on my brain? I google it and discover they are severely endangered and subject to poaching. Now I have a potential storyline. I add in a murder, then the who, why, when, where? and of course we must have LOVE. So let's take the twin brothers in my current Work in Progress and see how they can mix things up.

Why do your books all seem to have very different themes? They almost seem written by different people.
That is strange, isn't it? My voice changes with each book. I'm not very good at replicating anything, even myself. I like the freedom of living in the world of the current set of characters, absorbing everything from them, and immersing in their reality. But after I finish one book, there's a period of divorcing myself from one set of characters and moving in with the next. It is actually quite an emotional process for me and makes me sad and excited, like falling out of love with one person and back in love with someone else. 

Tell us about your upcoming work?
Knowing Vera is the next book in my contemporary "Chance For Love" series. If you've read Broken Build and Hidden Under Her Heart, then you already know Vera, to some extent, but not really. Vera has a flirtacious but tough public face and hides her emotions under a don't care attitude. But in Knowing Vera, she is forced to take off that veneer and face her fears as well as the secret she hid, that her father jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge because he was suspected of murdering a wealthy woman, one who happens to be her current bed buddy's late mother. Vera is unable to give him the usual brushoff because he suffered a crippling injury where he lost his leg. The story deals with admitting feelings to yourself and discovering that love is not real unless someone truly knows the real you, not just the illusion you portray.

Have your children read your books, if so what do they think about them?
My daughter (who's over 18) has read my books. She actually beta reads for me and gives me suggestions and feedback. She probably thinks her crazy mother has all sorts of strange ideas to write about and is amused.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading?
Melissa Foster, for her dramatic situations and characters that pull you in. Melisa Hamling, for the intensely sweet way her characters fall in love, Tracy Sumner, for her historical women who are ahead of their times and strong, unyielding men that can't resist them, and Mary Forbes for that intense addictive love story you can't get enough of. 

Thanks for answering my questions, anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me, Sally. I enjoy writing and the fact that I never know what adventures are in store for me next. But most of all, I enjoy the reactions I get from readers. I'm fulfilled when I have made a positive difference in someone's life.

My Review:
This is the third book I've read and reviewed from Rachelle Ayala and she never ceases to surprise me. There were so many things going on in this book, but not too much that I got lost. It does touch on some controversial issues two being racial issues and abortion.

So in this story we meet MaryAnne Torres and Lucas Knight, both seem like strong characters in the beginning. Sadly, we find out really soon that looks definitely are deceiving and they are both pretty damaged people. Now for me I found it kind of annoying with their back and forth indecisiveness. I grew up in a single parent household so I learned really quick that I'd have to be strong. So sometimes when reading stories where the woman is the "come and save me" type, well it turns me off. I kept asking myself, "Why won't she just say what she wants?" Then I started saying, "Why won't he just make up his mind?!" It got a little tiresome at times, but not to the point where I wanted to stop reading. It was really an emotional rollercoaster and kind of had me thinking, "How much more could one person take?" When the topic of abortion came up it was aimed more towards a prolife angle. I'm pro choice but I never felt like it was being forced upon me. Rachelle touched a bit on the religious reasons and that the child should have a chance at life. She also showed the other side of that with MaryAnne first choosing abortion as the better choice for her at the time. Now she ends up changing her mind, but not because she found god, but because she felt that adoption was a better choice. I think Rachelle really did it tastefully and I think it made me think about abortion and the other options out there. I'm still prochoice though, but I can say I am a little more open to seeing other views.

At the end I think it all turned out well and even though this is a romance story, there wasn't much love-making. So it wasn't racy at all and a really great read. Rachelle Ayala's books always have a religious theme to them, but they never feel like she is trying to hard. I'm not a religious person so this makes it a easy read for me.

Links: Amazon.com
Website: http://rachelleayala.me/
Twitter: @AyalaRachelle

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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