When Abbie Scott's car breaks down by the side of the road, an attractive stranger comes to her rescue. Abbie feels drawn to Seth Talbot right from the moment they meet, but little does she know that he is the new pastor of the church she attends. Her little town is all abuzz about the handsome, charming, bachelor minister. So far, Seth has resisted the pressure to choose the "perfect" minister's wife. Instead he has been looking for someone who would suit him, rather than his job. He thinks that Abbie might be the one, but she isn't quite so certain. When they start dating, the tongues of the town gossips begin to wag, and when Abbie gets wind of what they are saying, she can't help but be worried about compromising Seth's position. Can she trust in Seth's love even though she isn't the ideal mate for a minister, or will Seth give into pressure from the townspeople to stop seeing her?
For the Love of God is an unusual book that skirts the fine line between mainstream and inspirational romance. It probably has a little too much religion to be considered purely mainstream, but also has too much sexual tension to be considered purely inspirational. For me though, that meant it was just right.;-) Considering that this book was originally published by Silhouette, I was surprised at how much of a role the characters' faith played in the story, particularly for Seth, yet in my opinion, it wasn't the least bit preachy. Since he is a minister, of course he attends church every Sunday, and performs all the duties expected of a man of God. There was some mild discussion of Biblical content, and I was quite impressed with a rather sensual scene where Seth and Abbie read The Song of Solomon to each other (complete with Bible passages quoted). Since that happens to be one of my favorite books of the Bible, I absolutely loved the scene, and thought it was beautiful and romantic. However, I realize that other readers on both sides of the mainstream/inspirational fence may find it offensive for completely opposing reasons. Because of this, and some other mild sensuous content, as well as one mild profanity, I doubt a Christian publisher would touch it. Seth and Abbie share some passionate kisses and moderate caressing which built some surprisingly good sexual tension, but they never completely crossed that line. In fact, they chose to wait until marriage (which doesn't actually happen in the book), so there are no full-blown love scenes, which should make it appropriate for most readers.
Seth was an extremely appealing hero. I rarely see a minister character outside of the inspirational romance sub-genre, so that alone was intriguing to me. I loved that he was so laid back, not really caring much about the small-town gossip that was being generated by him dating Abbie. I've never cared much for pulpit-pounding ministers, and it seemed that the retiring pastor who Seth was replacing was one of those. Seth, however, couldn't have been further from that himself. He was much more a teacher than a preacher, and also exhibited genuine care and concern for his flock. As a minister, he was just about perfect for me, but he certainly raised a few eyebrows when he came to town. No one, including Abbie, thought that he looked or acted like a minister, because of his stunning good looks, his little, green sports car, and the fact that he'd rather wear jeans and t-shirts than a clerical collar when he wasn't "on duty." He was extremely charming though, winning most people over pretty quickly, and those he didn't, he just didn't sweat it. I liked that he was looking for the right woman for him and not the right woman for his profession. When half the ladies in town started bringing him casseroles and cakes and coming to church on Sundays even when they hadn't attended in years, he just took it all in stride, and never seemed to be interested in anyone but Abbie. I just love a hero who is single-minded in his pursuit of the heroine. It took a while, but Seth finally convinced her that he was only flesh-and-blood, like any other man, and shouldn't be put up on a pedestal.
Abbie was a really likable heroine who had returned to her small home-town after a bad breakup. When Abbie first met Seth, she was very attracted to him, but when she found out he was the new minister, she wasn't quite so sure if a relationship between them would work. At first, she was a little intimidated by his position, but Seth deftly charmed her into one, then two, then more dates, and before she knew it, she was falling in love. Along the way though, Abbie fell prey to some of the town gossip, and worried that she and Seth shouldn't be together or that he was just toying with her. I wish she'd had a little more faith in Seth and his love even though he hadn't come out and told her yet, but overall, her doubts weren't too overblown in my opinion. She was just a really nice girl who'd had her heart broken once already and wasn't quite sure until Seth convinced her.
There weren't many prominent secondary characters, but I did enjoy Abbie's relationship with her parents, especially her dad, for whom she works. I also liked the two elderly sisters from the church, who are complete opposites. Since they're always telling stories, Seth encouraged them to write a book, and they ended up writing a racy romance which amused him. Some of the background townspeople could get a little ornery about trying to imply or outright tell Seth who he should/shouldn't be dating/marrying, but I was very happy to see Seth put them in their place by doing what he thought was right.
For the Love of God was first published in 1981, but surprisingly it didn't feel all that dated to me. There was a mention of Trans-World Airlines (TWA), which no longer exists, and if one paid close enough attention, the fashions and lack of cell phones might show its age, but overall it seemed like it could be taking place today. For the Love of God was a really sweet, feel-good romance, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It might have had something to do with feeling like the author found that delicate balance between religious content and sensuous content, or maybe it was a yummy hero and appealing characters in general, but this book has found a place on my keeper shelf. It was my first read by Janet Daily, but it has left me interested in checking out her other works.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook