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Book review: 'For Sale By Owner' is a story of Christmas magic and romance

"FOR SALE BY OWNER," by Marlene Bateman, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 272 pages (f)

The sign in front of McKenzie "Kenzie" Forsberg's childhood home used to read "For Sale By Owner," but she sees a "Sold" sticker has covered the lettering. Marlene Bateman's newest novel, also titled "For Sale By Owner," is a story of hope through disappointment.

Kenzie, the heroine of "For Sale By Owner," just wants to go home. After a nasty divorce, she and her daughter need family and stability, and moving back to her childhood town and home is the perfect way to start over.

But Jason Rawlins and his son are also looking to build a new life after his wife's death. Both of their dreams center around Kenzie's old home, but only one family can move in. Sparks fly until Kenzie inadvertently sabotages the sale of Jared's house, ruining his ability to fulfill his purchase of Kenzie's childhood home. Both Kenzie and Jason will need to believe in love, family, childhood friendship, redemption and Christmas magic to find the perfect home.

While "For Sale By Owner" has the potential to be a lovely Christmas romance, it struggles to maintain the likability of its lead characters. Both Kenzie and Jason often behave immaturely and pettily, and readers may not see what each sees in the other. The writing is often too wordy, which also may detract from the reader's enjoyment of the story.

Bateman was born and raised in the Salt Lake area and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All of the novel's main characters are also Latter-day Saints.

"For Sale By Owner" does not contain any profanity or violence but does mention adulterous behavior, which is negatively presented and not described.

Rachel Chipman has a bachelor's degree in family life and human development. Her current goals are to read more, write more and learn to type while holding her infant daughter. Her email address is racheldchipman@gmail.com.