By Design is the story of Anne, a privileged interior designer living in Atlanta and Brad, a second-generation OBGYN with roguish good looks and
charm to spare. Anne is hired by Brad and his father to decorate their new office space and in the process of working together, Brad and Anne begin a relationship. Conflict quickly arises between the two when Brad discovers Anne made a promise to her mother before her death years before, to save herself for marriage. Anne is a genuinely sweet and caring woman who has a very caring and giving heart. She goes out of her way to help everyone she comes across as best she can and things just seem to work out for the best for her. Brad is a former playboy trying to reform his ways to be with Anne, and is also trying to deal with leftover resentment from his mother leaving when he was young. Anne’s attempts to help Brad heal and deal with his past ride the boarder between well-meaning and meddling, but in the end, they are both better for her efforts. After several hurdles and trials faced together the two of them earn their happily ever after, just as all good romance couples should.
If you are looking for a quick, clean, sweeter than southern sweet tea read with a heavy dose of good old southern baptist charm and beliefs? Then this is the perfect book you have been looking for. There are several sweet moments and the overall plot is entertaining and light. I can see listening to this on the porch with a glass of sweet tea, or pool side under a big floppy hat. Anne’s commitment to her values and beliefs is steadfast and charming, and her work ethic and dedication to her career are commendable. There are several points in this book that dive into
the ins and outs of the interior design business and very lovingly describe the work that Anne does. It was a very enlightening insight into a field I admittedly know little about.
My issues with this book come in a few different forms. First of all, I don’t know that I believe the romance between Anne and Brad, and honestly? I wasn’t rooting for them. Anne is a sweet, albeit almost painfully naive, woman who is looking for the man of her dreams, her destined mate her mother told her about. Brad comes across as a total cad for most of the book. He is rude and dismissive of Anne and her work and overly possessive and jealous. From the start I never really understood what Anne saw in him, other than his good looks. The biggest issue I had with Brad though was the fact that every time the issue of Anne’s abstinence vow came up (which was frequently) Brad handled it horribly. He would continue pushing, coercing, begging, and when she held firm (good for you girl if that’s what you want) he would get angry, pout, or flat out leave. Several times he gave her grief about the situation and all in all it was incredibly off-putting.
The one part where I was really impressed with Brad and on his side was the one part I think most fans of the book most likely turned on him for. Without going into too many spoilers, Brad finally sits down with Anne and has an open and honest conversation about his wants and what he needs out of the relationship. It was raw, and honest, and even if it wasn’t what Anne (or readers) wanted to hear, at least he was standing up for his truth and being open with her.
Hallie Ricardo gives a wonderful performance in this audiobook. I have listened to several titles she has narrated and her unique style is perfectly suited to By Design. Hallie brings a sophistication to Anne’s character that just oozes southern charm and class. Her characterizations are well done and understated but she manages to make it easy for the reader to distinguish who we are following. The level of wit and emotion she brings to her narration adds a needed layer of depth to the story that I found incredibly refreshing.
Overall I think By Design is well written, nicely paced, and has an engaging plot. I do think the story feels a little dated despite being a recent release, but I think the pieces that feel dated to me still fit the genre and work for the story. If you want a sweet Women’s Christan Romance read, By Design is for you!