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Varina Denman
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(Mended Hearts #1)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  535 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Ruthie Turner resents the Christians in her small Texas town. When she falls for the new preacher, she release her bitterness ... as she learns to love.
Published March 1st 2015 by David C Cook
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4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  535 ratings  ·  124 reviews

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Sooooo good!!! I want to hug this author. All the feelings, sigh!

This isn't going to be a proper review, I'll acknowledge that now, BUT, let me just say, I was blown away by this story. I still have trouble believing that this is a debut novel. I literally read this in two chunks. I read the first half in one sitting, then didn't get to read it for about a week (that's what happens sometimes to books on my Kindle). Friday night, I was in the mood for a good binge-reading session, and there was n
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a little girl, Ruthie and her mom, Lynda, are shunned by their church soon after Ruthie’s dad leaves them for reasons she's not sure about. Now an adult, her hurt and anger make Ruthie resolved to leave the small town of Trapp as soon as she can, until the preacher Dodd and his family move to town.

There was so much judgement piled on wrongly by the town church members and also by Ruthie and Lynda. It was a fictional story but I was pulled into it so hard that I found my heart breaking for Rut
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
This raw and emotional debut involving hurt caused by church members had me staying up late to see how it would end.

Among the cast of not so Christian church members, there were scores of players with very big hearts. I especially enjoyed Clyde (convicted statutory rapist), Grady (Dodd's brother) and Ruthie's cousin JohnScott (I may have his name wrong, but definitely a two first names kind of name). Ruthie's sarcastic humor was a delight.

Very well written debut. I look forward to the next in th
Carrie Turansky
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jaded by Varina Denman is an outstanding story! It's contemporary women's fiction with a strong romantic thread and powerful faith message. It's set in a small town in Texas. The characters are very well-developed and the plot kept me up late three nights, eager to see what would happen to Ruthie and Dodd. The secondary characters added so much to the story. The setting was very realistic and well-done. Overall, a great read! I will look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Beth Vogt
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jaded is the first book I've read by Varina Denman and I look forward to reading her other books. Denman creates believable characters and also crafts a strong setting for her story. She writes a powerful true-to-life story of people who struggle against long-standing prejudice and the almost unbreakable hold of secrets on their lives.
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I'll be honest here. I kind of dreaded starting this book because for one reason, it was THICK. And for another reason, someone said it was YA. Well, I don't remember who said it or how they got that impression, but they were wrong.

Yes, JADED is thick. And even though the story is kind of slow and not really action-driven, it is very definitely character driven. Ruthie is an outcast in town and doesn't even know why. All she knows is that the church is to blame and when the new preacher
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I passed on this book when I first saw it available for review. The cover looked boring, as though it was about the Amish, or perhaps their Mennonite cousins. The blurb didn’t attract me, although it did make it clear that the book was set in small-town Texas, with no Amish or Mennonites in sight. It looked boring.

But then reviews started coming through, specifically a review from Andrea Grigg. She raved about Jaded … which convinced me that maybe I’d misjudged Jaded, and persuaded me I had to r
Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)
(I received an advance reader copy in exchange for this honest review.) Even if I hadn't received this book with the intention of leaving a review, I would have had to leave one. Ms. Denman's debut novel is quite simply everything I want in a book -- Her writing voice is smooth and easy and the scenes played out in my head like a movie while I read. The characters are so life-like and relatable that I felt almost sad when I closed the book because I wouldn't get to spend time with them anymore. ...more
Lynne Stringer
This book was a wonderful telling of small town church prejudices and judgementalism and the mess it can cause. From the start I liked the female protagonist, Ruthie Turner, in spite of how prickly she could be. She seemed to have a right to be and I could understand her rejection of the church. I liked Dodd too, although his belief in the honesty of certain people did annoy me. However, as he was a newcomer in town (and because he was a nice guy), I could understand why he thought that way. It ...more
Nora St Laurent
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised by this story. It wasn’t what I expected. It was so much more. I instantly connected with Ruthie Turner, a strong, resilient twenty year old young lady with spunk, wit and determination. She’s learned to be a peace maker in a small town where everyone knows your name and your business. The novel is written through her eyes.
Ruthie had done a good job avoiding Christians until the Cunningham’s moved into town. She worked with Dodd Cunningham at a local school; he just so
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Varina Denman's first novel and it is such a wonderful way to enter the world of writing and fiction! I was very intrigued by the description of this novel as I was a pastor's wife in several small towns, one in Texas and two in North Carolina. I, too, have been injured by one of those churches and it caused my heart a great deal of pain until I was able to forgive the people and accept that God still loved me no matter what some of "His children" did to me and my family. I think the au ...more
Sherri Smith
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve never read a book by Varina Denman, however she is an author that I will look for in the future. Published by David Cook, the company did a great job in designing a cover that appealed to me. In a way, it reminded me of the painting “Christina” by Andrew Wyeth.

The story is about a young woman in her 20’s, who has faced life with her mom, shunned by the local church. Ruthie, has grown up knowing that something happened to expell them from the congregation, but she has no idea what it was bei
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This debut novel won the 2013 ACFW Genesis contest in the romance category. And I can totally see why. It's a decadent read. Rich in both style and emotional depth. So many words to savor. Even more thoughts to process after the read. If you only read one book this year, I think this just might have to be that book!

Denman's writing is so smooth. The story flowed off the pages and into my mind with technicolor clarity. This book consumed me. Turned me inside out and brought healing and hope I did
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it

This book is fantastic in every way and has made it onto my favorite list! Church hurt is so relevant to many people and hits close to home for me personally. Ruthie and her mom have experienced excommunication from the church based on gossip that occurred when Ruthie was little. Ever since Ruthie and her mom have considered any Christian to be a hypocrite and refuse to become friends with them. A new family comes into town and Ruthie is confused to discover not only are they Christians but one
I have been wanting to read this one for a while. Between great reviews and a good book description, Jaded captured my attention. Having never read a book by Denman before I was a little unsure of what to expect, but she blew me away. This novel, was soooo good! And I can't wait to read the rest in the series.

Jaded is a story about the messiness, and the beautiful parts of life. We see people with all their hang-ups and sin, but we also see the love and value found in relationship; not only with
*I received a free ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am being generous in giving this book three stars, it was more like 2 and a half. I wanted more depth and spiritual theme than reading about a young woman's bitterness against a local church. I think that for me it was two dimensional, I felt that I just couldn't grasp who Ruthie really was as a person. None of the characters seem to be thoroughly fleshed although the dialogue was above average. I believe that good d
Oct 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, but I had a hard time connecting the consequences with the crimes, or lack thereof. I am from and still live in small town Texas and so I could not find it likely that a church would treat a woman and child this way, regardless of the sin. I also cannot imagine or relate to an entire population discussing a newly arrived family to their town. Most small towns have one thing in common. They are not that far from a larger town, roughly an hour. So, you have people from the cit ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an unexpected find. I very much enjoyed this debut offering from Varina Denman. It was a surprisingly deep and emotional read. Each character was well thought out and had intensity. At first, I thought the story line might be a little predictable but I was mistaken. I gave this four stars because I was a bit put off that a preacher was pursuing a non believer. I am very much looking forward to the next book in this series.
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Small town with many hurt people. And you know that hurt people, hurt people. Along comes a new pastor trying to figure out how God wants to use him and his family. Sometimes the sorrow seemed hard to stick with that many in the town were dealing with but it was a satisfying read with somewhat of a predictable ending. I will seek out the next book in this series.
Leanne Smith
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written story by Varina Denman. I'm anxious to read her other books.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book!! Really enjoyed this!! Highly recommended!!’ Really touches my heart!
Janka H.
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How not to be prejudiced when you have been the victim of the prejudice for almost your whole life? God is good, fine, but what about His people?

Ruthie Turner and her Momma were kicked out from church in Trapp some 13 years ago. Since that time, the good Christians are overlooking them, and Ruthie does the same. Church people are the enemy.
But the new family, the Cunninghams, are behaving differently. They are friendly to everybody (even the convinced (statutory) rapist) and there is certain "so
Mackenzie Carol
Jaded is the first book in Varina Denman’s Mended Hearts series, and is also the first book I have ever read by her. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I picked up this story, but I was hopeful that it would be one I would enjoy, and I wasn’t disappointed. I absolutely LOVED this novel! I had no idea I was going to fall in love with Ruthie’s story quite as quickly as I did, but I was sucked in from almost the first page and had such a hard time putting it down. I just wanted to know eve ...more
Sarah Ruut
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruthie and her mother have been wounded by members of their local church. Over the years, they have become more and more embittered by those hurts. When the Cunninghams move to Trapp, and the handsome older son takes the position of pastor, Ruthie resists having anything to do with him because of his connection to the church. However, there’s something different about this family…

I loved Jaded. There are so many who can relate to Ruthie’s story. Maybe not for the same reasons, and maybe not with
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really enjoyable and surprisingly moving. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book - from the synopsis it really could have been a historical for all I knew. Well, it's actually a well-written contemporary that is beautiful, transporting and hopeful.

Let me tell you about Ruthie. Living in the small town of Trapp has both its good sides, like her cousin, who is more like a brother and best friend in one, and its hardships, working two jobs to stay afloat and the ever-p
Victor Gentile
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Varina Denman in her new book, “Jaded” Book One in the Mended Hearts series published by David C. Cook introduces us to Ruthie Turner.

From the Back Cover: Their small-town church wants them apart, but God has other plans.

As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation. Thirteen years later, Ruthie’s heart begins to stir when an attractive single preacher arrives. But their relationship is bitterly opposed—unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and he
The premise of this story sounds simple: a girl trying to get out of the small town she's always lived in is followed by a 13 year old incident: the local church shunning her and her mom. She distrusts Christians and hasn't had a problem staying away from them until Dodd Cunningham moves into the new preacher.
From the first chapter, I couldn't believe this was Varina Denman's debut novel. Ruthie's observations are told from first person and you really feel like you're living life as he
Andrea Grigg
I love novels about small towns because I don’t come from one. The fact this (fictional) small town is situated in Texas, USA and not in my home country of Australia made it even more interesting.

Ruthie Turner intrigued me from the first page. It was clear Ruthie has a chip on her shoulder the size of … well, the size of Texas. And I couldn’t wait to find out why.

A hard-working and resourceful girl, she has a lot to contend with due to circumstances beyond her control. Her mother has a ‘past’ an
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruthie was only a little girl when their church rejected her family. Now she and her mother do not attend church and hate all Christians. Not a good recipe when Ruthie finds herself falling in love with the new guy in town, Dodd. Because Dodd is the new minister. Ruthie, Dodd, and the rest of the community will all learn about secrets, forgiveness, and Christian love as they navigate the uncharted waters of small town gossip and fear.

This book was a wonderful shock to me. It was written in a st
Dora Wagner
Come venture with me to Trapp, Texas and meet Ruthie. Ruthie’s walk has never been easy. She has lived under the pallor of the town’s judgment for most of her life. She finds it easier to “hide” in the shadows, than to “live” in the light. Her experiences with “God’s Judgment”, rather than His Grace, cause her to be skeptical of those that espouse belief in the God of the church. Until one day, when her world is turned upside down with the arrival of a new family in town. Can she trust these ne ...more
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Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about women and the unique struggles they face. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and her debut novel, Jaded, won the ACFW Genesis Contest, the BRMCWC Selah Award, and the INSPYs Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature.

She attended three universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero

Other books in the series

Mended Hearts (3 books)
  • Justified (Mended Hearts, #2)
  • Jilted (Mended Hearts #3)