First of all, and probably because I'm a published author and pay attention to more publisher related things, I knew from almost the day I heard about this book that it was written for a secular publisher. That said, I still looked forward to reading it because I love Julie Klassen's writing. She's always been one to write her historical romances involving a little more of the messiness of life, so I went into reading Lady Maybe fully expecting much of the same, but perhaps on a different level--which as it turns out, was exactly what I got.
There are many things about Lady Maybe that are nothing like a Bethany House (her usual publisher with which she used to also edit for before her debut released) historical romance novel. But I didn't go into reading it expecting it would be, and quite possibly that is a major factor in why my response to the book is so different than what it's been for many of her faithful inspirational followers.
I loved this book. It's the first book I've read for pleasure in about two years (my own last book contract came as I'd just found out I was pregnant with my second son--so I spent my 2nd trimester writing a book, the 3rd RECOVERING from doing so while pregnant + having a 2yo running circles around me, and then because I have two little boys and I'm trying to write my own books, I just haven't had much time until now). And I read it in about a day's time, losing much valuable sleep.
Lady Maybe ended up being very different from the usual kind of books I enjoy reading, and this has nothing to do with the romance. It was the level of mystery and intensity throughout the plot that really had me reading. The romance part of the story definitely took the back seat (in more ways than one), so much so that I wasn't sure who the hero of the story actually would end up being until the last few pages.
There were three character POVs mentioned in this novel--one character had one chapter near the beginning, one was the heroine and the other had a number of chapters in the latter half of the book. Which is another "not normal" way of writing a story--but it worked. And I think a lot of the reasoning behind going with the publisher she did probably had a lot to do with things like this, and not strictly because of the complicated messy relational issues between the characters.
And yes, wow it was complicated. And messy. And interesting and compelling. Klassen's way with words was perfect, as always. She pulled me in and didn't let go, planting little seeds throughout the novel that only made sense at the end. These are the reasons I loved it.
Although the characters are not perfect--by far--there is a ton of Christianity in this secularly published book. I do think it might have been a good idea to use a pen name in having this book published, since I know it can be found in Christian bookstores and in The inspirational sections of libraries solely based on her name and other books from Bethany House. I think Lady Maybe has a bit lower ratings (compared to most of her other books) simply because most of her readers read it assuming it would be like the rest of them. But don't be fooled by the low-star ratings. Yes, there is a lot of mess in this book, but it is still a really good, well-written novel that teaches lesson after lesson about grace, forgiveness, second chances and how God can take a huge mess and still bless those who love him despite the fact that they don't deserve it. Isn't that real life every day?