I loved reading It Happens Every Spring by Gary Chapman and Catherine Palmer.  The book is anchored around Patsy’s ‘Just As I Am’ tea rooms and beauty salon.  The people frequenting the salon are likened to the seasons; some, like Esther and Charlie, are enjoying the easy summer of a long, contented marriage.  Newly-married Ashley is in the blossoming spring of a marriage full of hope for the years ahead.  Brenda and Steve are in the winter of their marriage.  Since their children grew up and left home, Steve has become married to his job, causing Brenda to become bitter and cold towards him.  Feeling that she’s been forgotten by her children, by her husband and even by God, Brenda turns her back on what she once treasured – creating a happy home life, caring for her husband, and enjoying attending church – and is tempted into another man’s arms.  Steve won’t listen to Brenda; Brenda constantly freezes Steve out.  What will be the outcome for them?  Can they work together to salvage their marriage?  Is it possible they could find their first love again?  Or will it all end in the divorce that beckons them so alluringly?

As Patsy witnesses the alarming cracks visible in Brenda and Steve’s marriage and does what she can to try and help, Patsy is trying to cope with cracks of her own.  She has spent years building up her beauty salon and tea rooms, fulfilling her God-given ministry of providing a safe, cosy atmosphere for people to unburden themselves and receive prayer.  But now all of that is threatened by the arrival of Pete Roberts and his ‘Rods-and-Ends’ shop.  Loud, shaggy, big-hearted Pete has taken to repairing noisy lawn mowers and chain saws right next door to the tea rooms with devastating affects.  First, Patsy’s entire antique collection of cups and saucers is smashed from the heavy vibrations, then deep cracks begin appearing in the walls.  Patsy regularly races next door to yell at Pete, but finds it impossible to stay angry with him for too long.  Just this side of forty, Patsy has never married because the right man has never come along…. until now?

And then there’s Cody, the sweet homeless boy trapped in a man’s lean, unkempt body.  Learn to love Cody, with his constant refrain:  ‘My daddy told me that anyone might give you food, but only a Christian would give you chocolate cake, too’.  That’s chocolate cake in squares, not triangles, because you get more icing that way!

It Happens Every Spring is the first in a series of four.  I will definitely be buying the other three.