We are born nurtured and guided through our formative years by our God given parents or guardians. They are there to guide us when we stray, to forgive when we err. Our parents play an important role in a person’s upbringing in all aspects of life except love, for we can’t tell our hearts who to love. When it comes to love, God’s will prevails. That’s the central message that Unoma Nwankwor conveys in An Unexpected Blessing.
In this Christian romance story, Nwankwor tackles subjects that we or people close to us go through – love, dating, forgiveness, enduring pain and letting go of the past and starting afresh. The plot is set in Nigeria and the USA.
Feranmi is a successful young Nigerian woman who works and lives in Atlanta and has great friends. But she is in a dilemma. She is almost thirty and her parents feel it’s high time she got married – and to a Nigerian man! They have even gone as far as getting a suitable suitor for her; something she abhors- she would rather wait for the one God has chosen for her. Her father tells her “Baby girl, you live in your apartment alone…… you need a man to protect you”. But is that why she should get married? For protection? She responds “Daddy, I have an alarm system and God protects me”.
Alex Montgomery, meanwhile, owns a construction company but an unfortunate incident in the past has made it difficult for him to move on and find true love. That changes the day he meets Feranmi again. The two were good friends in college and would have been more than that had it not been for her reservations about his race. At the time, she wanted very much to find the Nigerian man her parents wished for.
The meeting arouses in Alex the feelings he had for Feranmi all those years ago. But what Feranmi needs is a man who’ll pretend to be her fiancée when her parents visit her in Atlanta-just so they get off her back. Could Alex be the perfect match for her game? What begins as a game grows into a deep love that each of them had been praying for albeit with lots of challenges. Her parents’ insistence on her getting a Nigerian husband and Alex’s past secrets threaten their relationship.
The author admits she draws highly from experiences around her as a young black woman living in the Diaspora. The issue of marriage for single Christian women gets to be challenging when waiting for the one. At the same time, parents’ expectations often add further complications.
Feranmi’s mother tries hard to fix her up with Bayo, a man she’s not compatible with. Her mother counsels her “to keep an open mind’. The arrangement she made for her older daughter worked out fine, so why won’t it work for Feranmi?
As I read on I got to understand why her parents insisted on Feranmi getting one of their own-their misgivings about foreign men aren’t unfounded.
Even though it’s a Christian romance, it’s not too preachy or pretentious. The characters are well portrayed; Alex is every young woman’s dream-man- he’s handsome, loving and God-fearing while Feranmi’s beauty, compassion and independence can’t be ignored either. It is a fascinating read and the story imparts some important lessons- true love looks beyond culture, race and that with forgiveness and trust, we get to receive our unexpected blessings.
Unama Nwankor was born in Ohio to Nigerian parents but grew up in Port Harcourt Nigeria. She loves books, travelling, watching movies, listening to music and spending time with family. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and two kids. An Unexpected Blessing is her debut novel, published in 2013 by KEVSTEL Group.