Updated: Feb 11
I'm so thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review Tell Me You Love Me: a Christian romance anthology that's just bursting with powerful themes, amazing characters, and sweet romance. Wow. What a precious collection of stories this is! The world needs more romance just like this, and I was blown away by how much tenderness and truth were woven into each story. Read on to learn more about the book and for my review!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Tell Me You Love Me – a timeless collection of stories that truly understand the meaning of “I love you”
Twelve young Christian authors have come together, alongside romance novelist Grace A. Johnson and editor Issabelle Perry to show our world of depravity and cheap imitations of romance what love really means: faith, hope, and sacrifice.
These stories range from contemporary YA to historical to fantasy, and tell diverse, unique love stories that compel, captivate, and warm readers’ hearts with their sweet and authentic nature.
Featuring work from Michaela Bush, Saraina Whitney, Karynn Heckler, Margaret Copeland, Lucia Molano, Sarah Lawton, Brooklyn O’Brennan, Mackenzie Hendricks, H.S. Kylian, Lydia M. Jupp, Katherine Perry, and Amelia Cabot, the Tell Me You Love Me anthology is the collaboration of talented and inspirational young writers you’ve been waiting for!
"ALWAYS" by Michaela Bush
This story was the perfect start to the anthology, and I absolutely loved the characters! Demir for his quiet strength, and the way he risks his life to go after Aaiyana, sacrificing his own safety to show her how valuable and loved she is. Aaiyana was so sympathetic, and I loved her transformative journey. The world-building was excellent. Even being such a short story, I felt like I was there! AND THE THEME. I'm a sucker for stories with themes of sacrifice, and the message in this story was so good! Demir's love for Aaiyana was such a beautiful reflection of Christ's love for us: always running after us, coming to our rescue, and reminding us of our worth.
"UNTIL YOU CALL ME YOURS" by Mackenzie Hendricks
OKAY, HOW IS THIS STORY SO FREAKING CUTE?! Best-friends-to-lovers is by far my favorite type of romance, and the way it was written was so authentic and relatable. Saige's point of view was enjoyable to read, and I loved her relationship with her sister. The way she prayed and surrendered everything to God was so inspiring. I loved her conclusion that even if she didn't end up with Weston, she belonged to God, and that was enough for her (which is also something that I find to be rare in romance novels these days). Weston was my favorite, and the subplot with his dad was so well done. I cried, to say the least. The relationship between him and Saige was so pure and sweet and had me fangirling through the whole story. And that epilogue? Adorable.
"HIS FREEDOM OVER MINE" by Amelia Cabot
Oh my goodness. I think this was one of my favorite stories in the whole anthology. It was so powerful, the writing was so colorful and emotional, and I was completely immersed in the historical setting. The Berlin Wall has always been one of my favorite periods in history to study, and the way it was written was excellent. I was on such an emotional rollercoaster reading this story; a perfect blend of romance, heartache, and family themes. Annemarie's love for her children was precious, and her relationship with Rudolph was SO CUTE. My heart. I also loved the timeline of this story, from first meeting Rudolph when they were children to marrying and having a family (best-friends-to-lovers🥰). THE ENDING. Oh, the ending. So startling and unexpected. While it was tragic, it was impactful and, honestly, there couldn't have been a better way to conclude it. I adored every second of this amazing story!
"FOREVER LOVED" by Lydia M. Jupp
Charity was an amazing character, and I love how her backstory was included in such an impactful way! The tension between her and Michael was so well written, and I really appreciated the accurate portrayal of relational conflict. I loved how Charity comes to the realization that even with Michael leaving, she was still forever loved by Jesus. I also loved all the scripture references, although some parts did feel slightly preachy (that may just be me, though), and there was some theology that I disagreed with. The ending between her and Michael was the sweetest!!
"LOVE IS THE LITTLE THINGS" by Brooklyn O'Brennan
Wow! This was so touching and heartfelt! The writing set the perfect tone for this story. Reece was such a relatable and gripping character, and I loved being in her point of view. Also, her relationship with her siblings was priceless and had me laughing out loud (it also kind of reminded me of my own siblings XD). I loved the message that real love is not all about grand gestures, fancy outings, and gushy feelings. It's about serving the other person with friendship, patience, and little acts of kindness. Levi was awesome, and he and Reece's relationship was so cute, simple, and respectful. (FRIENDS-TO-LOVERS, GUYS. I'M TELLING YOU.) Especially when they started studying the Bible together... ahhh. The world needs more of that type of romance. Like, seriously. I loved this story, and I still think about it all the time.
"THE DAY THAT TRAGEDY STRIKES" by Margaret Copeland
Aww. This WWII romance was so good! Nancy's faith in God, despite her and James' circumstances, was incredible. I kept pausing to reflect on this aspect of the story and on the themes woven throughout. Her bravery and the way she trusted in God's plan above her own were so inspiring. The historical context was really well done, although the writing wasn't as immersive to me, and some parts felt a bit rushed. James' letters to Nancy were another one of my favorite parts to read. Overall, a really sweet story and a heartening theme of how God works in the midst of uncertainty.
"AS BEAUTIFUL AS THE STARS" by Karynn Heckler
Aww, this one was another one of my favorites. The writing was raw and breathtaking, and I was so immersed in both of the character's points-of-view. From the beginning, Haseena proved to be such a kind, relatable, and strong character. I adored her, and her relationship with the Lord was beautiful. I love Amro's kindness, faithfulness, and how he was willing to wait for a Godly wife to rule his kingdom with him. The theme was amazing. I loved how the markings on Haseena's skin, which she was repeatedly rejected for, were seen as beautiful by Amro. When she believed that she was unwanted, ugly, and freakish, Amro showed her the truth: that she was beautiful, chosen, and set apart. I loved the world-building as well. It was semi-dystopian, but it was also very unique. Such a powerful and healing story.
"HE WANTED MY HEART" by Katherine Perry
Just lovely!! The fairy-tale setting and details were super intriguing, and I really liked Clarissa. Her initial dislike of Greyson was so well written, I could feel her contempt for him (which made for an excellent enemies-to-lovers romance). Her transformative journey was so authentic, even in such a short story, and her relationship with her brother was precious. The writing style was absolutely perfect for this story; so poetic, yet impactful. And the ballroom dancing scene... that was my favorite (it actually reminded me a lot of Pride and Prejudice (in the best way possible, of course)!
"OLD TIME DEVOTION" by Lucia Molano
Oh my heart. How cute of a love story can you get? I wasn't expecting a senior romance, but oh my goodness, I ADORED it! This was such a rare gem to read. Both Evangeline and Gabe were such colorful characters and felt like real people! I love how they've both been waiting their whole lives to find a Godly spouse, and God brought them to each other at the perfect time. So well-written and incredibly sweet. I didn't want this one to end!
"'TIL DEATH DO US PART" by Sarah Lawton
Wow. Such a powerful and heartbreaking story filled with hope. Jon was amazing — so strong, selfless, and kind despite watching Carlie suffer from cancer. The themes were beautiful and expertly woven throughout, and both characters' faith in God was so inspiring. That's something that I've been noticing and loving in all of these stories, is the way each of the characters brings all they have before the Lord, trusting their lives and their loved ones to Him. So beautiful. I really appreciated the way cancer was portrayed as well — tactful and full of compassion. I adored Allie. She was the cutest. And that epilogue? PERFECT. So perfect. I was a mess of emotions reading this one.
"FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE" by H.S. Kylian
This story sucked me in and didn't let go until the very end. Even in such a short time frame, I cared so deeply for the characters — especially Will and Susie. The flashbacks Susie had were perfectly timed and so cute, and her faithfulness and care for Will were beautiful to see. This story vividly painted a picture of God's never-ending, intentional love for us. The portrayal of PTSD was also extremely well done, which is an element that I really appreciated. Overall, such an amazing and touching story!
"TO BE LOVED" by Saraina Whitney
Wow, this story truly has the mark of a talented author. The prose was absolutely gorgeous, so rich and emotional, and pulled me right into the characters' worlds. Reed and Evangeline were both such vivid characters. I adored Evangeline. She was, what you would call, a strong female character; but so relatable, conflicted, and kind. Reed's love for her was breathtaking. I loved how he continued to pursue her and show her that despite her past, she was worthy and forgiven. And isn't this a beautiful example of Christ's sacrifice for us, how in spite of our guilt and sin, He chases us down and redeems us with His love? This was such a captivating conclusion to the anthology and a powerful story.
Tell Me You Love Me is a must-read. Such a sweet, truth-filled, and impactful collection of romance that the world (and your bookshelf) desperately needs. I love the variety of genres, and how each story points the reader back to The Greatest Storyᵀᴹ: Jesus' sacrificial and never-ending love for us.
[Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]
Do you love cute and clean romance? Are you forward to the release of TMYLM? What do you enjoy writing more: short stories or novels? Are you a chocolate hater or a chocolate lover? What's your favorite romance trope? (Can you guess what mine is XD?) I'd love to hear from you in the comments!