Title: The Transformation: Blue Church
Author: Terri Kraus
From the back cover: "Oliver Barnett is a good contractor, a good Christian, and an obedient son, never in trouble, never one to rock the boat… until real-estate developer Samantha Cohen enters his life and offers him a controversial renovation project: Transform an historic church into a restaurant/night club. Samantha, full of life, vitality, and wit, is unlike any woman he has ever known—in more ways than one. However, with Samantha's less-than-innocent past and the fact that she's Jewish, Oliver's not sure if he should get involved with her or the Blue Church project.
At the same time, Oliver's old girlfriend Paula rekindles a long-ago relationship with him—with the enthusiastic encouragement of his domineering mother. Paula would be the safe choice, and the choice that would appease Mom, yet Oliver is drawn to Samantha because of her beauty and her exotic nature. Oliver finds himself in a most unsettling dilemma. Does he do what's right by the nice girl his mother has chosen for him or does he follow his heart?"The entire theme of this novel is redemption from beginning to end. Nearly all the characters have some need for it. I think that is very reflective of our world today. I liked the way the author treated the issues of past sins and how the church and people in general react to them. Some are too afraid to go there at all, some are very critical, and some let those sins determine the path for the rest of their lives. I think God's mercy is a lot more extensive than many people are willing to extend—even to themselves. I also appreciated the way the author treated the Jewish culture and traditions with respect while still holding fast to the truth. Samantha, Paula, Oliver, Taller and even Robert the dog, became very real to me as I stepped into these pages and watched not just a building transform—but their lives as well. It's a beautiful reminder of what God can and does do each and every day.