Jade Fitzgerald Benson is married to a prominent lawyer with a powerful family name in a small town. She has admitted her past to her husband, but feels like she is continuing to pay the price as she waits month after month for a successful pregnancy. Max, her husband, has struggled with pill addictions since high school, and continues to see the ramifications in his own life and marriage. In addition, he has kept a secret from Jade that may be what tears them apart. June and Rebel, Max's parents, have their own past and present mistakes that are coming to light and changing the way everyone in the family thinks about each other. Beryl, Jade's mother, is dying of leukemia, and wants to die in her own hometown, where Jade grew up. When Max's and Rebel's most recent faults come to light, June and Jade decide to make a roadtrip of taking Beryl home to die. There, they have to each examine their pasts and decide which path to take for their future.
When I first started Softly and Tenderly, I thought "this has been done before." The story of the illegitimate son showing up on the doorstep of a couple who's having struggles has been written several times. However, even with the somewhat stale initial plot line, the story progressed in new ways, and the characters were well-written enough for me to become engrossed in their lives and become invested in the outcomes.
Additionally, the book seems to be part of a series, which I did not confirm until the end of the book, where it advertises the next part of the "Songbird Series." Although the book stands fairly well on its own, there were several places within the story where I felt like I was supposed to know some background information that I did not. The story probably would have felt more complete had I read the previous installment.
Overall, I would give this book 3 stars. I enjoyed the characters, and the storyline, but between the familiar storyline and the missing pieces from not having read the first book, as a stand-alone book, it could have been better.
I received a copy of this e-book for free from Thomas Nelson publishers as part of their BookSneeze books for bloggers program.