I made a bad decision last night. I needed something to help me relax at bedtime, so I dug through my stack of unread books and pulled out Michele Paige Holmes Counting Stars. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to put it down easily, because I had heard so much about it, but stupidly, I started it at eleven p.m. anyway.

About four in the morning and multiple tissues later, I forced myself to put it down. Unfortunately, I spent the next three hours dreaming about the book. Then I woke at seven and picked it back up again, finishing it before I did any serious work around the house. It’s a good thing I don’t have to work until this afternoon.

Counting Stars won the Whitney award for Best Romance/Women’s Fiction and it definitely deserved the award. Michele’s writing is engaging, her characters are funny, quirky, and very real. If anything, I would say her male protagonist was a little too perfect–not that he didn’t have flaws, but that he would make any woman fall in love with him. And I love the First Fridays ritual her main character, Jane, celebrated–we should all settle down with a good book or movie and something ridiculously fattening once a month.

The back jacket of the book says:

Jane was hoping for a second date — maybe even a boyfriend. What she wasn’t expecting was Paul Bryant’s completely original and sincere pick-up line: “Hi. I’m Paul. I have terminal cancer. My wife was killed in a car accident, and I’m looking for a woman to raise my children.” It was never Jane’s plan to fall in love with a dying man and his two infants. But her seemingly simple decision to date someone outside her faith leads to one complication after another, and the choices she makes soon have far higher stakes than she could have foreseen. In choosing to help Paul, is she choosing to be alone forever? And how can something that seems so unbelievably messed up feel so completely right? Sometimes love is found in the least likely places and the greatest blessings are discovered while counting stars.

So if you’re looking for a good read, check this book out–just be prepared with a box of tissues and enough time to read the entire book in one sitting.