Book Review by Alexis A. Goring:
Healing Love is the story of Brooke Endress and Ubaldo Chavez.
Brooke and Ubaldo meet on the mission field in El Salvador. Ubaldo is a native of El Salvador where he works as a teacher and translator. Brooke is an All-American girl with a passion for broadcast journalism. When the reader first meets Brooke, she is focused on rising in the ranks at work. She wants to advance her career by becoming on-air talent at a TV station. Love is not part of Brooke’s life plan…until she meets Ubaldo.
Ubaldo’s world is rocked when he meets Brooke. He notices her beautiful exterior first but as the story progresses it’s her soft heart of gold and her passion for helping children that win him over.
This is a sweet, strong and wonderful story about what can happen when you allow God to write your love story and exchange your career plans for His life plan. I love the way that the author (Jennifer Slattery) brought Brooke and Ubaldo together. It was unexpected, filled with surprises and so beautiful.
The plot of this story is solid, believable and worth noting. The author writes in a way that’s engaging, heartwarming and real. The author’s heart for the mission field shines through in the way that she writes this story. She’s created characters that are likable, relatable and completely captivating. She paints a picture of the orphan children that draws the reader in and makes them want to advocate for their welfare even though this is fiction.
This story is a bit over 300 pages but is so wonderful that you may stay awake, paying full attention to this story until you reach “the end”.
Story Excerpt from Chapter One of Healing Love:
This was not what Brooke had gone to school for. With a huff, she dropped her pen on the mountainous stack of stories she’d been assigned to fact check. So far, the only errors she found were minor—grammar and spelling, largely mute points in television. Then there was the occasional hilarious lead-in she felt tempted to share on Facebook, like the one she’d just read: “Increased Unemployment Rates Lead to Joblessness in the Inland Empire.” You think?
She was tempted to slash through the line with her red pen. But not knowing this reporter and how he’d react to such “help,” she opted to leave it be. Unfortunately, she wasn’t paid to have an opinion.
“God’s got big plans for you, peanut. Trust Him. Follow Him, no matter where He leads.” The memory of her dad’s voice weighed heavy on her heart.
She inhaled a deep breath. Was this what you had in mind, Daddy?
Melancholy wouldn’t get her anywhere. He’d never encouraged the easy road. News broadcasting was a competitive field. Brooke knew that going in. So it was taking her longer to get her break than anticipated; she’d simply work harder. And smarter.
She let her gaze roam across the newsroom. Printers hummed from the long, rectangular table dividing two expanses of cubicles. Nails clicked on at least a dozen computer keyboards. Interns scurried about, some chasing down reporters to pitch stories or ask questions.
Brooke focused once again on her notes. She needed to come up with a fresh pitch—a story idea that would put her name on the station manager’s radar. If she could somehow secure an interview no one else had thought of, or maybe approach a hot story from a new angle.
What about women re-entering the work force?
No. That’d been overdone. What about teachers … losing their jobs over … She tapped her pen against her palm. Low test scores? Lack of funding?
Her phone, set on silent, vibrated. She checked the screen. Aunt Isadora.
“Hey.” She stood. “Everything okay?” She needed a change of scenery. And a snack to jumpstart her lethargic brain cells. She headed for the break room, changed her mind, then turned toward the lobby.
“Oh, of course dear.” It sounded like water was running on the other end, followed by clanking dishes. “I’m calling to see what time you think you’ll be heading home. Your sister needs a ride from study group, and I’ve got bridge tonight.”
Crossing the room, Brooke glanced at the clock above the long row of mounted televisions, each screen showing a different clip. “Hopefully around 6:30. One of our reporters received a last minute exclusive that needs to air tonight, which caused some shuffling around, which ultimately led to me receiving three more pieces, so I’m a bit behind.”
Aunt Isadora tsked.“They’ll run you ragged if you let them. You really need to set some boundaries.”
“Not if I want air time.”
“Oh, sweetie, that’ll come. I have no doubt about that.”
“Yeah, well, I have enough doubt for the both of us.”
“This reporter, the one who flubbed your day—he can’t have someone else do his fact checking for him?”
“I don’t know if I’d call our station’s biggest story a flub, but in answer to your question, no one as good.” She grinned and, once in the lobby, shot a wave to the station receptionist before slipping past her. She continued down a long, quiet hall to three large snack machines, one of which kept Skittles stocked.
“I know that’s true.”
Brooke’s heart swelled at the pride in her aunt’s voice. With all the rejections she received on a weekly basis, it felt good to know those she loved most stood behind her. If only her parents were still around. A painful lump lodged in her throat.
“Apparently,” Brooke fished in her purse for loose change, “his previous fact checker, an intern from the University of Missouri, missed some pretty big errors, like which political party Senator Wilkinson represented.”
“Wow. That’s bad.”
“Right?” Her phone chimed an incoming email, and she tapped the icon. Her pulse increased a notch—it was from KTLA’s news director. She paused to take a deep breath, wiped a sweaty palm on her pant leg, then opened the message.
Dear Ms. Endress,
Thank you for your inquiring but we are not hiring at this time. Best of luck to you in your career endeavors.
As close to a form rejection as one could get, and her third this month. So far, every major television station in a two-hour radius had rejected her.
“Sweetie, you okay? You got quiet on me there for a moment.”
She released a gust of air. “Just fabulous.” She relayed the message. “I’ve about run out of options. Seems I’m destined to do grunt work for the rest of my life.”
“You’re much too pretty for that.”
She cringed at the stereotypical assumption underlying her aunt’s words. “It takes more than good looks to break into television.”
“Good thing you’re smart and talented then, huh?” Aunt Isadora chuckled. “Keep your chin up. God’s got His hand on you, sweet pea.”
“Have you thought of looking elsewhere, to stations with less competition?”
“It’s not like the Inland Empire is a metropolis.”
“No, but we are close to Los Angeles.”
True, but Brooke had no intention of moving, at least, not until her sister graduated from high school. She’d dealt with enough already.
“Aubrey will be just fine. I promise we wouldn’t feed her to the dogs, should you leave.”
Brooke forced a nervous laugh—it was kind of creepy the way her aunt always seemed to anticipate her thoughts. “I know.”
Whistling approached, and she looked up. Caleb Silvas, one of the station’s most popular personalities, was heading her way. He made eye contact and smiled, causing her stomach to catapult. “I … uh … I’ve got to let you go. I’ll see you tonight. And I can pick up Aubrey, no problem.”
“Thanks, dear. Love you.”
“You too.” She tucked her phone in her back pocket and faced the vending machine.
What had gotten into her? She was acting like a tongue-tied, socially awkward teen. Which was completely ridiculous.
So Caleb was successful, deemed one of the Inland Empire’s most eligible bachelors. So what he was a news room favorite, with ratings to match? And incredibly handsome, with his blond hair, green eyes, and baseball player build.
So what that a recommendation from him could quite possibly launch her career?
“Anything good in there?”
She startled and spun around. Forced a wobbly smile. “Uh, hi. I mean, no.” She straightened, donning her most professional stance. “Just the usual. Stale chips, cardboard flavored soup cups, and, from experience, near pulverized pretzel pieces.”
“Ah. Appetizing. I’m Caleb, by the way.” He extended his hand, and the two shook.
“One of our spring interns?”
“Uh, no. I’ve been on staff for over a year now.” Almost two, actually.
He angled his head, brow wrinkled, as if trying to place her.
Good luck with that. Not many people remembered the grunt workers. “My degree’s in broadcast journalism but I’ve been working as a fact checker.”
“That long, huh? You must be good then.”
Or stubborn venturing on desperate. “I do my best.”
“That’s all you can do, right? It’s a tough business, that’s for sure, but that’s how they weed out the professionals from the wanna bes. Most folks expect to find an easy in then quit after a couple years when that doesn’t happen.”
Was this meant to be a pep talk? If so, she’d take it. And the connection. “Listen, would you like my business card? I’ve got some story ideas I’d love to pitch.” Or more honestly, she had some vague ideas she planned to hone into pitches, given enough time. And chocolate.
His lazy smile caused her pulse to stutter. “Sure.”
She dug into her purse then stopped. She’d depleted her on-hand stash of business cards at a convention the previous weekend.
She frowned. “I’m sorry, but I’m all out.”
“No worries.” His grin deepened, and he pulled a wallet from his back pocket. Handed over a thick, textured card. “Shoot me an email any time.”
She blinked. Really? Or was he simply being polite? Didn’t matter. First rule of success in this business—follow every lead.
This one could be it, the door to a thriving career. But first, she needed an attention grabbing pitch.
Brooke spent the rest of her day fighting to stay focused on her assignments rather than brainstorming potential story ideas. For the most part, she failed, ending the day with take home work and a long list of useless blurbs. Many of which her sister tried to improve upon later as they drove home. Her aunt and uncle joined in the discussion over dinner, and by the time Brooke went to bed, her brain was swimming—with hope and insecurities.
The next morning, she woke an hour earlier than normal to research a few of her ideas further, then shoved her notes into her briefcase. Her television flashed on her dresser. She paused to watch Kyanne Louis lead into a breaking news story on LATV5. She studied Kyanne’s smile, counted every head bob, and noted each timely displayed affect.
Brooke eyed her audition tape growing cobwebs on her dresser and sighed. She needed to make a fresh resume reel, one with more punch. More unique stories.
She’d figure something out.
She turned off the television and checked her appearance—navy blazer and skirt, both pressed. Cream blouse, a simple yet sophisticated necklace decorated with pearl teardrops framed in gold. Shoes—leather pumps of appropriate height, also navy. A timeless wardrobe that spoke of responsibility and loyalty.
Perfect for a lawyer or criminal defendant, not an up-and-coming news anchor. But she didn’t have time to change. Besides, going through her wardrobe yet again wouldn’t suddenly bring fashion clarity.
She grabbed her cell phone and smoothed her hair behind her ears. She could do this. Had to. Today, this morning, she’d march—no, walk—into Mr. Echo’s office and ask for a promotion. With Caleb’s invite and Nancy, his co-host’s approaching maternity leave, Brooke couldn’t put off her request any longer. Too many other interns fought for attention.
She pulled her favorite verse, Ephesians 2:10, from her back pocket. “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” She tucked it back in her pocket. “Not sure about the masterpiece part, but I’ll cling to the promise none-the-less. No meeting, no matter how I flub it, can thwart the plans You have for me.”
Then why did she feel so unsettled?
The smell of fresh brewed coffee and fried bacon drew her to the kitchen. Her younger sister, Aubrey, sat at the table, her beads and twine spread before her. Aunt Isidora stood at the sink washing dishes. Uncle Lester occupied his usual breakfast chair, the one closest to the window. Dressed in a striped, polyester suit and polka-dot tie, he slouched over the newspaper, bushy brows pinched together. I need to take him shopping.
“Good morning, dear.” Aunt Isidora met her with a firm hug. “Hungry?”
Brooke grabbed a mug from the cupboard and filled it. “Mind if I take it to go? I don’t want to be late.”
Uncle Lester dropped his newspaper and rested his hands on his bulbous stomach. “For what?”
“I’m going to ask for a meeting with my boss. See if he’ll finally allow me in front of the camera.”
“About time.” Uncle Lester closed his paper. “After almost two years of pouring his coffee and emptying his trash—”
“I don’t empty his trash.” This was doing nothing to calm her nerves.
“Still, your uncle has a point.” Aunt Isidora pushed a lock of hair from her face with the back of her hand. “You’ve been doing all sorts of odds and ends for that station long enough. And you’re certainly well qualified.” She crossed to where Brooke stood and gave her a sideways hug. “I’m sure your boss will see how prepared you are to take this next step.”
Brooke raised crossed fingers.
Uncle Lester gulped down the rest of his toast, crumbs cascading onto his shirt. “Way I see it, them producers would be fools not to get that face of yours on camera.”
“I appreciate your compliment,” Brooke said, “but like I told Aunt Izzy, it takes more than good looks to make it in the news industry.”
“Yeah, like a hottie boyfriend able to whisk you up that ladder.” Aubrey shot her a wink.
“Stop being stupid.” Why had she ever told Aubrey about her brief interaction with the man? “I do not need any help advancing my career, thank you very much.”
Aubrey raised her hands in mock surrender. “Edgy. Like talons and everything.”
“You drive me crazy, you know that?”
“A little insanity never hurt anyone. But don’t worry. You’ll be free of me soon enough.”
“What do you mean?” She sipped her coffee.
Aubrey beamed. “Guess who’s going on the El Salvador mission trip?”
Aunt Isidora opened her mouth to speak but Uncle Lester touched her hand. “First, we haven’t made a decision yet.” He lowered a firm gaze on Aubrey. “There’s still a great deal to discuss. Second, we told you, if we let you go, it was under one condition.” He turned to Brooke. “That your sister go with you.”
Brooke coughed, spewing brown liquid across the table. She looked from her aunt to her uncle. “You’re not serious, right? This is such a bad time for me.” Had they forgotten how hard she was working to get in front of the camera? She couldn’t possibly take vacation days now. It’d kill her career.
Aubrey frowned. “This is so unfair.”
Uncle Lester crossed his arms. “Sorry, girls. That’s the rules.” He shifted his gaze to Aubrey. “But before you pester your sister to insanity, remember, your aunt and I still have to decide if you can go at all. That trip will cost a lot of money.”
“So I’ll get a job,” Aubrey said.
“To pay my way, too? Because I’m not spending my savings on a third-world vacation.” Brooke grabbed a slice of bacon from the counter and nibbled on the edge. “Besides, last I heard, they hadn’t found a translator.”
Aunt Isadora tidied a dishtowel draped over the oven handle. “The guy who runs the orphanage—what’s his name?”
“Don’t know.” Aubrey strung a blue and white marbled bead onto her growing chain.
Aunt Isadora flicked a hand. “Whatever his name is, he’s got a local teacher friend, a man from San Miguel, who speaks fluent English. Apparently the guy’s translated for North American groups before. Pastor T seems confident he’ll take the job.”
“Regardless, I can’t go.” Brooke crossed her arms and faced her sister. “I don’t care what you say, how much you whine, nag, and pester.”
“Says the woman who spends most of her time hiding in her bedroom.” Aubrey’s hands clenched. “Just because you’re afraid of absolutely every. Little. Thing. Doesn’t mean I have to suffer.”
“Quit being such a drama queen.”
“Girls!” Aunt Isidora rarely raised her voice, so when she did, everyone went silent. She removed her apron and folded it in half. “Let’s not fight.” She patted Aubrey’s hand. “How about you finish getting ready so Brooke and I can talk?”
Eyes hot, Aubrey gave a jerked shrug. “Well, good luck with that.” She stomped off, her flipflops slapping the linoleum.
Aunt Isidora waited until the teen’s bedroom door slammed shut then turned to Brooke. “We understand your feelings regarding this trip, believe me, but Uncle Lester and I are concerned…” She looked from her husband then back to Brooke. “I don’t know how to put this. We really want her to be able to go, but we don’t know Pastor T all that well. And he’s quite young.”
“But I can’t…” This was the definition of a lose-lose situation. Stay home and rob her sister of the opportunity to go on a rite of passage trip, or go and lose any chance of getting that co-host position she’d been pining for.
Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ.
As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact.
She writes devotions for Internet Café Devotions, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and edits for Firefly, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Website – www.JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
Book blurb for Healing Love:
A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn't on the agenda.
Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.
Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.
When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of "missional tourists" full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?
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