Contemporary Fiction Book Review: Unbound by Grace

Publisher's Description

When the past holds the future captive, there is only ONE chain breaker…

Tori Bishop has carved out a safe circle of friends who know nothing of her privileged status. But when she’s roped into attending a glitzy fundraiser, she brings along strong and steadfast Derek for support. As long as her secret stays safe, she never has to question his motives.

Derek Miller wants his life to count for something, to make a difference—especially in the life of Tori Bishop, the spunky smart-mouth who loves razzing him. But if his prison record comes to light, she’s sure to take off running.

When Tori and Derek get involved in building a local women’s shelter, the extra time together stirs more than an ember of attraction. Haunted by the fear of exposure, each must wrestle with the chains of their pasts to experience freedom, love, and the full depths of God’s grace.

Click here to purchase a copy of this novella for yourself. 

My Review

Unbound by Grace, by Michelle Massaro, is truly a special book! While it is certainly an entertaining reading experience, this novella is also genuinely moving and utterly compelling. The surprisingly intricate plot is well-paced and thoroughly appealing from beginning to end. Though it is a quick read, it is well-written and deeply meaningful as it grapples with profound themes including forgiveness, second chances, trust, and faith.
The characters are incredibly well-developed for a novella. They are authentic and vulnerable as they struggle to overcome their insecurities and fears while also clinging to their hopes and dreams. The characters are believable and their struggles are truly thought-provoking. As a writer, Ms. Massaro is very talented at building tension between the characters, which makes the story real, satisfying, and incredibly intriguing. 

Unbound by Grace is one of the best novellas I have read in quite some time. Relevant and realistic, this book challenged me to think more carefully about my own assumptions regarding grace, forgiveness, second chances, and redemption. More than simply a pleasure to read, this book is an experience to ponder and savor. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

My Reflection

Grace and second chances are powerful themes within this novel. The characters in this story must endure frustrations and uncertainties as they struggle to heal and to forgive. The characters wrestle with their assumptions and their choices. They doubt their purpose and their calling. They hide behind self-built walls of shame and insecurity. They even face difficult consequences from their decisions and actions. 
Yet, as they persevere through trials and disappointments, they become more tender-hearted, more compassionate, and more gracious towards themselves and others. Their faith also grows stronger as they learn to trust that their future is held securely by a merciful and gracious God. Slowly, they endeavor to step out from behind their walls and embrace a life of abundant grace and freedom.

The themes within this book reflect meaningfully upon the fact that God is the ultimate restorer who can fashion beautiful things out of the broken and damaged moments of our lives. With unconditional love and infinite grace, he softens and heals the painful memories, redeeming them and remaking them into moments that yield purpose and value. It was very uplifting to journey with the characters in this novella as they found and accepted the healing, forgiveness, and restoration for which their hearts were so desperately searching. 

About the Author

MICHELLE MASSARO writes contemporary fiction soaked in grace. She makes her home in Southern California with her husband of over two decades and their four children. She’s dabbled in homeschooling, teaching Creation Science, and leading worship. When she isn’t tinkering with words, Michelle enjoys old Rogers and Hammerstein movies, making kefir, and Sudoku. A new lipstick and a good French roast always make her happy.

Guest Post from Michelle Massaro

When I sit down to write a new story, I tend to gravitate toward some pretty deep emotions. The raw kind we all have known at one point or another. It’s what connects us all as human beings, no matter how different we are on the outside. If we can learn to see ourselves in others I believe that’s where compassion is born, as well as some self-revelation. Like King David hearing the story of the rich man stealing the poor man’s lamb and realizing he was that man!

In Unbound by Grace, I was approaching the story of two super fun characters I had introduced in my first novel, Grace in the Flames. In that book, they were side characters. But I always adored writing their scenes. They were both so entertaining! And the chance to put these two together and give them their own book was just too delicious an idea to pass up.

I got to put them into some interesting surroundings (anyone been to watch a horse race lately?) and take them to some very exposed, vulnerable places as well. Through them I was challenged to get inside someone else’s skin, and understand. Plus, they kept me smiling as well! This story was a blast to write, and I hope you enjoy these fictional friends of mine as much as I do.
It’s such a pleasure to meet new readers. I hope to hear from you soon!


To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize package that includes a notebook, a mug, a bookmark, a pen, a signed copy of Grace in the Flames, and an Amazon Gift Card ($40)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries! Click the link below to enter.

Visit the Unbound by Grace tour page on Celebrate Lit

Blog Stops

Real World Bible Study, September 20
Godly Book Reviews, September 20
Among the Reads, September 21
The Power of Words, September 21
Bibliophile Reviews, September 22
Fiction Aficionado, September 24
Faithfully Bookish, September 25
Carpe Diem, September 27
Lis Loves Reading, September 28
Simple Harvest Reads, September 29 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Janices book reviews, September 30
The Mimosa Blossom, October 1
Texas Book-aholic, October 2
Bigreadersite, October 3

*I received a copy of this novella through the author and Celebrate Lit. The review I have written is voluntary and contains opinions that are entirely my own.


  1. This sounds like a lovely novel. Can't wait to read.

  2. Elisabeth, thank you for having me on your blog today and for the beautiful words. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the message of GRACE coming through. <3

  3. This sounds fantastic, I can't wait to read it.


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