Book Review: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Finished Reading: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
by Andrew Peterson

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Children’s fantasy

Dark Sea.png

On the edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness live the Igiby family–12-year-old Janner and his younger brother Tink, little sister Leeli, and their mom and grandfather, known mostly as Podo. Their land has been conquered by Gnag the Nameless, who hails from Dang, across the sea, and who has sent his Fangs to keep the people in line. Through a series of connected events that all starts with a mischievous dog, the Igibys find themselves on the wrong side of the Fangs of Dang. When the Fangs come to realize that the Igibys have knowledge of the location to the jewels of the late King Wingfeather and the Shining Isle of Anniera, which are said to be the key to restoring Anniera and defating Gnag, the Igibys realize they will always be in danger.

This book was a lot of fun, with characters that are lively and entertaining and a lot of lore and history. The quirky nature of the narrative and even the names of various people and location had me chuckling more than once. Though it’s children’s fiction, it doesn’t pull any punches, and reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as Roald Dahl, to a degree.

Right off the bat, the explanation for the name of the world these characters inhabit gives you a sense of the writing style. The first person to exist woke up on the first morning, looked at a rock, and said, “Well, here we are.” Thus, the world’s name came to be known as “Aerwiar.” Though none of the other names for people or places are really explained, and I did actually struggle a little muddling through so many when they came close together, this is a good example of the tone of this book.

Even with the whimsical nature, there is still some real peril. Fortunately, possibly because it’s meant for kids, for the most part, the good guys prevail and the bad guys are defeated, at least in some way. I’m not saying there aren’t some losses, but I won’t say more because of spoilers.

One of my favorite things about the book were the hints that the author dropped throughout the book, giving little nudges about a big secret revealed near the end. Two big secrets, really but they were tied together. While I suspected pretty early on, and then decided I was definitely right still a ways from the reveal, remember that this book is meant for kids. I could imagine kids near my daughter’s age, maybe a bit older, reading this and beginning to catch on, getting excited as they realized the truth.

It was fun and full of adventure, and I cannot wait to continue the series! I recommend this book for folks of all ages who enjoy clean, fun fantasy adventures. Also, you might see it labeled as Christian, and there are some references to a deity that many of the people believe in, but it is not overtly Christian. It may be a bit allegorical, again similar to the Narnia books.

Thank you to Netgalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah for providing me a copy of this book to review.
**Note: This book has been out since 2008, but a new hardcover edition will be released on March 10, 2020, with a beautiful new cover and new illustrations inside.

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Book Review: Stealth Power

Finished Reading: Stealth Power
Nanostealth
#2
by Vikki Kestell

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Christian sci-fi thriller

Stealth Power

Spoiler notice: The following review will contain some spoilers for the first book in the series, Stealthy Steps.

Picking up immediately where the previous book left off, Gemma hides out in a safe house while planning to rescue Dr. Bickel, along with another monumental task that presents itself as the story goes on. The only trouble is…she’s still invisible. She must learn the best ways to navigate a visible world, while also learning to co-exist with the nanotechnology that she has so far fought against, if she’s going to accomplish her goals–and get her life back.

I definitely enjoyed this book more than the first. Most of the information is out there (being dumped into the first book), and we’re left with just the continuing story of Gemma and the mites (good band name, no?). The relationships that we were introduced to in the first book were continued enough to make me happy, with the addition of a new character who became one of my favorites. The writing style isn’t my favorite, but in the end, I was glad to have read this, and look forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

Gemma herself bugged me during a lot of this book. I mentioned in my review of the first book that she came across like a petulant child, and that only got worse in this one. The sections from her POV (which is most of the book) was immature, and I didn’t always enjoy it. I know there was a lot of really unpleasant stuff happening to her, but even while she was growing stronger in many ways, boy, did she whine a lot. There were also a lot of verbal tics in this book that I don’t remember from the first one–a lot of “um”s in the dialog. It only led to a further frustration with Gemma, and there’s a reason most authors don’t write dialog that realistically. It’s annoying to read.

The associate pastor, Zander, was probably my favorite character from the first book. That took a small turn for me in this book, as his character came across as simply a vehicle for preaching Christ to the other characters, and to the reader. I’m not saying there aren’t people in real life who would have talked exactly as he did, but he became a bit confrontational when talking to Gemma’s evil twin sister, and I felt it was a bit much. My favorite character in this one, then, was the new guy in this book, an FBI agent.

My favorite thing about the first book was Gemma trying to communicate with the mites, and that really expanded in this book. Even while she groused at and about them, I really liked them. Maybe that’s the under-emotional side of me, to identify more with the computer than the human. My least-favorite thing about the first book was the exposition, and Gemma’s repeating of the exposition, and there was some of that in this one, but not nearly as much. The author did, however, have a tendency to recall back to a previous conversation later on, and she would pretty much always include twice as much of the original conversation as was needed.

In the end, I think it’s really the writing style that detracts the most from this series from me so far. The characters and plot I am enjoying more than enough to make up for that though. I need to try to put less time between this one and the next one than I did the first book and this one, though, because there was little in the way of reminders to what happened before. I started out really lost! Like with Stealthy Steps, I would recommend the book to fans of Christian mysteries & thrillers and lovers of this type of sci-fi.

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Book Review: The Gray Chamber

Finished Reading: The Gray Chamber
by Grace Hitchcock

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Historical Christian romance, crime

In a time period where women are expected to marry well in order to secure their future, Edyth Foster is fortunate enough to be self-sufficient, due to an inheritance that her late parents left her. Unfortunately, it is left in her uncle’s care until she turns 25. Not long before that happens, he realizes that he can steal her money if he gets her declared insane and sends her off to a lunatic asylum–which is just what he does. Edyth must figure out a way to escape or prove her sanity before the asylum takes her mind for real.

I enjoyed this book for the most part. The characters were mostly interesting, though this is the type of situation where I liked some of the side characters more than the main characters. The way the plot unfolded was fairly predictable, but there were enough surprises to keep it interesting.

This is the second book I have read in the True Colors series, and like the other one, despite being written by a different author, this one was far more focused on the romance than on the true crime plot line. Edyth’s plight to escape the asylum and her uncle’s grasp wasn’t just a vehicle for the romance, fortunately, but I still felt that the crime part of this book could have been stronger. I think this is further reflected in the fact that Edyth was not at the asylum long enough for her to be quite how she was later in the book (trying to be vague to avoid spoilers). This particular issue really may have just been my own opinion, and I am not saying that what she did suffer in the asylum would have been easy to handle. It just didn’t seem to be as severe as it was portrayed later.

I enjoy a good romance, especially if it’s clean and sweet. I prefer subtle, but with a romance-genre book, I rarely get that. This, however, is barely billed as a romance, yet was so far the opposite of a subtle romance plot, I got to a point where I didn’t care that much about the relationship between Edyth and Bane. It was so over-the-top sappy sweet, and just about all either of them seemed to ever think about was each other…it was just too much for me.

The official synopsis mentions a woman that Edyth meets in the asylum and her true identity, which frankly, I think was a mistake to explain in the synopsis. Her true identity is revealed so late in the story that it made little sense to me that I knew it the entire time, simply because of the synopsis. I realized by the end that she was based on a real person who reported on the state of this asylum, but I’m sure I won’t be the only person who has never heard of her, and thus it seems like a bad addition to the synopsis.

As I said at the beginning of the review, the book wasn’t bad. I ended up scanning through some of the repetitive declarations of feelings between the to lead characters and didn’t feel like I missed much. The ending did drag on a bit, but I enjoyed it enough to say that I can recommend it for fans of Christian romance (heavy on the romance), but I wouldn’t recommend it too strongly for fans of crime novels.

Thank you to Netgalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for providing me a copy of this book to review.

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Book Review: Cape Light

Finished Reading: Cape Light
Book #1
by Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer

My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Christian romance, drama

Cape Light

Cape Light is a small, very connected, and generally religious New England village. In this first book of 20 (so far), we are introduced to some of the inhabitants of the village–the mayor and her family, who are still somewhat reeling from a scandal in the past; the local diner owner who is very set in his ways and has designs on unseating the mayor in the next election; the reverend and his wife, whose joyful news is overshadowed by a wayward family member. Characters are established and at least one romance blooms, in this book that covers a summer in Cape Light.

Though there are a lot of characters to keep straight, I found that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I had a few moments that needed clarity, but I followed it well enough. And for the first half of the book, I was interested in the lives and backstories of these people. In fact, I never stopped being interested in that. But what seriously detracted from it was the plight of the main character and her romantic entanglement.

Jessica Warwick, the mayor’s sister, has recently moved back from not-too-far-away Boston, and she intends to return as soon as she can. She’s only in town to help her ailing mother, who is starting to recover well. She has a life back in Boston, and a sort-of boyfriend. Enter Sam Morgan, whom she is immediately taken by, though she refuses to acknowledge it for a long time. But when her boyfriend conveniently gets really busy, she starts dating Sam, even while making it clear that she’s moving back to Boston at the end of the summer. What follows is a ridiculously drama-filled mess that could have easily been solved in multiple ways. I don’t know which of these two irritated me more–the woman who dated a guy in town while knowing that she wasn’t done with the previous boyfriend yet and continued a relationship with a man who was clearly falling hard for her, despite her warning about there being no future, or the man who ignored her warning about there being no future because he held out hope that he could change her mind. Actually, I can safely say it was Jessica who irritated me more, because she was a pretty terrible person in general, and it was clear that her attraction to Sam was mostly physical for a while.

While romance novels are always pretty obvious, in that the two leads are going to end up together, I prefer those that are more in the backdrop to an interesting plot. There was little in the way of plot involving Jessica and Sam that wasn’t directly related to their relationship. The situations that occurred just to make them fall in love and/or add drama to their relationship were so much more obviously contrived than I prefer. By the end, I just wanted the book to be done already, which makes me sad, because I did enjoy unraveling the lives of the others in town.

The Christianity in the book was weirdly both shallow and heavily permeating. Apparently a large amount of the village’s inhabitants go to the same church, and many of them have a strong faith. Several others are seeking, and a lot of the same advice is given by different people. The series starts with 4 not-specifically-holiday books, but apparently by book 5, it continued as a Christmas series, which is what brought it to my attention at this time of year in the first place.

The writing was a bit pedestrian, but it only bothered me at times. I am going to give the series another chance, because just about every plot arc that was started in this book was left hanging, and I really do want to see what happens. Since the main thing that bothered me about this book should take a back seat in the future, I am hopeful about continuing. With proper planning, I can be ready for the first of the Christmas books by November or December.

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Book Review: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Finished Reading: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor
Once Upon a Dickens Christmas
#1
by Michelle Griep

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Christian historical mystery, romance, Christmas fiction

12 Days.png

With Christmas 2 days away, this will be my last Christmas review for the year! So sad, and yet, I had so much fun focusing on holiday-related fiction and will definitely do it again next year! Now, onto the review!

When seven people are invited to spent the 12 days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor and offered some sort of reward for staying the entire time, the clash of personalities, not to mention the lack of food and heat, provide the backdrop for the re-igniting of a relationship. Clara Chapman is offered enough money to save her from the poor house. Her ex-fiance Ben Lane is offered his freedom from a prison sentence that he doesn’t deserve. They’ll have the chance to discover the truth behind what broke them up, but only if they can survive the other guests–especially after the revelation that only one of the guests can get the prize.

This is a nice Christmas-adjacent mystery with some romance, set in 1850. I enjoyed the way the guests interacted, for the most part, and while the mystery elements were fairly predictable, I still liked the way it all came together at the end. I liked the atmosphere that was built both with the descriptions and in the writing itself.

One of my biggest disappointments with this book was the way both Ben & Clara were so quick to assume the worst of each other. Even when they began to understand their misconceptions, they still took longer to let go of them than I thought they should. I know that 9 months of believing the worst of someone else can sour the mind, but…in the end, 9 months isn’t really all that long. And even later, without spoiling anything, both of them had opportunity to trust in the other after they have had a chance to get past their issues, and both failed, at least to some degree. It’s not the most solid basis for a relationship.

There was one particular guest that I really didn’t like–both his personality and how he acted, but also how he was described and portrayed in the text. And in the end, he was barely involved in much and left without making much of an impact. There were a few other things here or there that never ended up making much sense for the story, but they were mostly minor things.

Overall, it was a fun read, short and sweet. I liked the old-fashioned traditions involving Christmas that were shown, and there was one particular thing that was revealed at the end that I felt like I should have guessed, and think many would, but I didn’t, which made it better for me. It definitely has some Christian elements scattered throughout, and the romance is clean (there are some physical desires brought up, but not acted upon). I recommend this book for anyone looking for a quick Christmas read, for a historical book with mystery elements, or for a Christian romance.

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Book Review: A Plain and Simple Christmas

Finished Reading: A Plain and Simple Christmas
by Amy Clipston

My rating: 2 / 5
Genre: Christmas drama

Amish Christmas Collection

Anna Mae has been out of the Amish community for 3 years, shunned by her family for marrying an “Englisher” (non-Amish). Expecting her first child at Christmas time, she reaches out to her sister-in-law Kathryn in the hopes that she might be able to return home for Christmas. Though it won’t be easy, Anna Mae and Kathryn hatch a plot that ends in a way neither of them expected.

A quick read, this novella left me with a lot of problems. I didn’t care for most of the characters, felt that very little happened overall, and found the plot to be all too predictable.

I’ll start with that last one first, because the synopsis for this book literally says that this story is “an inspiring page-turner that will keep you guessing what happens next…right to the very last page.” That is a tall order for any story, be it book, movie, or television show. Christmas stories especially tend to be a bit more predictable, generally speaking, because we expect them to end on a good note. And this book in particular…well, I can’t really think of anything that happened that I couldn’t predict. Maybe one thing:

Though Anna Mae is the one wishing for a family Christmas, I’d say Kathryn really becomes the main character, as she was Anna Mae’s contact in the Amish community, and her partner-in-crime, so to speak. Not that there was anything criminal about it. And in fact, I have to go on a tangent here and explain that I know little to nothing about Amish ways, but this book eventually explained that those who are shunned were, indeed, allowed to visit, but simply had to stay apart from the others during meals and church services. Yet Anna Mae’s dad, bishop of the community, treated her as if shunning meant she didn’t exist at all. It was harsh and yet explained and dissolved all too easily.

Now back to Kathryn…she grated on my nerves. For one thing, the narration tells us that she’s not a proud person, but we sure do see a lot of her thinking how Anna Mae’s family will have her to thank for their reunion. Plus, her husband–Anna Mae’s brother–insists that she not bring Anna Mae there for Christmas for various legitimate reasons, but she does it anyway, betraying his trust and involving other family members, including her own daughter. For a Christian family, and moreso, one where it’s clear the man is usually the head of the household, it really bugged me that in the end, she was seen to be right, and there were no real consequences to their relationship. I also disliked Anna Mae’s father and strongly disagreed with some of his beliefs and traditions.

And finally, what made this short novel really drag on for me was that everything that happened in the book was basically repeated. By this I mean that we’d see something happen, and then the next scene would be a character recounting what had just happened for another character. But where most of us would condense that with a line like, “She explained the events to her mother,” we see the entire conversation rehashing the event we’d just seen happen. This happened multiple times, which led me to start scanning to get through it more quickly.

I know that Amish fiction is an entire sub-genre within the genre of Christian fiction, and I’ve wondered what the appeal is for a long time. I realize that this might not have been the example to base my opinion on, but there were some things that came up that weren’t part of what I didn’t like about this particular book that lead me to think it won’t be my cup of tea as a whole. I don’t really think I could recommend this book to readers of Amish fiction either though. It just didn’t have much substance.

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Book Review: Catching Christmas

Finished Reading: Catching Christmas
by Terri Blackstock

My rating: 2 / 5
Genre: Christmas romance

Catching Christmas.png

Cab driver Finn Parrish picks up 80-year old Callie Beecher to take her to a doctor appointment. Callie is barely aware of what is happening, which leads Finn to be concerned about her and find out that the appointment was made by Callie’s granddaughter Sydney. A first-year law associate, Sydney is struggling to keep her job when the company is going through downsizing, and she has been saddled with a case that goes against her own ethics. As her grandmother’s health goes downhill, Sydney is stuck at work, and Finn is stuck helping Callie find a Christmas date for Sydney. As Christmas approaches, secrets are revealed and lives are changed.

Continuing my seasonal reading, I was looking forward to a feel-good Christmas romance, even welcoming some sap and cheesiness. What I got was a sad story with an emotionless romance and flat characters.

The book goes back and forth between Finn’s and Sydney’s 1st-person points of view, which I still don’t really get, but realize might just be Terri Blackstock’s style (the other book of hers that I read was like this too). Fortunately, most of the time it was from Finn’s POV, because at least him I could stand. His characterization was weak, as the type of person I thought he was supposed to be didn’t jive with how he talked and acted in the 2nd half of the book. But Sydney barely had any characterization. She was a weak female stereotype, despite stating once near the end that she wasn’t the weak type. But she let everyone walk all over her, and everything happened to her. She didn’t do much of anything herself.

Callie would have been my favorite character, as a cheerful, friendly woman who believed so strongly in God and Heaven that her only regret about dying some day was that her granddaughter would be alone. Except that she tended to say really mean things about other people, things that were laughed off because she’s just an old lady with no filter (fat shaming, for example). On a positive note, I would love to pass on the kind of legacy that Callie strives to, pointing others to the God that I serve even in casual interactions.

I don’t read pure romance novels all that often because, though I love a good romance, I prefer subtle, slow builds, and of course in a romance novel, the genre itself tells you that the male and female MCs are going to end up together. I’m okay with that to a point, but that makes it too easy for the author to get lazy. So yes, it’s clear that Finn and Sydney are destined to end up together, but at least make it make sense! They barely had any interaction in the first half of the book, and the romance that developed between them made no sense and was flatly written.

Between the cute cover, the promise of a “feel-good Christmas book,” and the other Blackstock book I read being pretty good, I was excited about this one. Unfortunately, I feel like I wasted some of my limited Christmas reading time on this book. Thankfully, it was short. I wouldn’t really recommend this book to others, but if you don’t have a problem with the issues I mentioned above and are looking for a Christian romance, you may want to give it a try.

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Book Review: The Butterfly Recluse

Finished Reading: The Butterfly Recluse
by Therese Heckenkamp

My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Christian romance (YA?)

Butterfly

Lila lives alone in a secluded location and hasn’t leave her property for pretty much anything for years. She raises butterflies and is happy to just be alone with them. Until her life is disrupted by a man who wants her to sell him some butterflies for a butterfly release at her sister’s wedding. Harvey’s presence and persistence chip away at the fortress she’s built around herself and make her question if she’s really happy with her life the way it is.

On the surface, The Butterfly Recluse is a sweet, clean romance with some simple faith thrown in. There is a twist near the end and an action-filled climax. For me, it was a middle-of-the-road read. Harvey’s persistence annoyed me, and it was difficult for me to like him for a while.

Lila’s reclusiveness was what first interested me in the book. I am an extreme everything social (shy introvert with extreme social anxieties and even anti-social at times) that could easily lead to becoming a recluse in the right circumstances. In the end, though, her reasons for becoming a recluse weren’t related to her personality so much as caused by PTSD from a traumatic event in the past. Even still, she seemed to overcome her near-agoraphobia a little too easily from my perspective. And as far as her PTSD goes, I could see where the author was bringing it out, but I felt it was swept away too easily in some areas. Meanwhile, at one point, she really overreacts to what I assumed was an innocent statement (we never really know for sure) related to her past trauma, for the sake of the plot.

The romance was sweet, but also very cliche and filled with tropes. The way the two characters flirted early on, when they’d barely met, seemed like something out of a TV show for kids/teens. Of course, I didn’t realize it was a YA novel until now, because it wasn’t listed that way on the site I read it through, and the main characters are adults. For that reason, the romance may be spot-on, though still not for me.

I had some inklings about the plot twist, but still didn’t actually see it coming when it happened. The climax was a little overdone for me, but I think it would still appeal to many. I would say people who enjoy clean, YA romance would very possibly enjoy this book, and for others, it’s worth checking out other reviews to decide if you want to read it or not.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Book Review: Priceless

Finished Reading: Priceless: She’s Worth Fighting For
by Joel & Luke Smallbone

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Christian fiction

Priceless.png

“…you are a pearl of great price. Do not cheapen your own treasure.”

After a terrible accident claimed his wife, and bad choices result in the loss of custody of his daughter, James is desperate to get back on his feet so he can be with his daughter again. With reservation, he takes a cash job driving a truck for a delivery, but before he reaches his destination, he discovers that the cargo is human–two young, Mexican women. He follows through on the delivery, believing he is simply transporting illegal aliens, but at the end of the trip, there is no doubt that these young women are destined for something that no woman should have to be part of. He can’t just return home and leave them to their fate.

While the beginning of the book was a little difficult to get through, and it took some time for me to warm up to James, the overall story, and the message of this book, are well worth the read. I knew the basic story here, having seen the movie when it first came out 3 years ago, but didn’t remember the details, and found myself caught up in it as the story unfolded.

The book starts with the death of James’s wife, and then with his stupid decision to traffic drugs, which promptly lands him in jail. It’s depressing and a little painful to read. I assume it was specifically that way to get James to the point where he’d do almost anything to make some money, especially with the threat of losing custody of his daughter completely, once he’s out of jail. But it still took some time and deliberate plodding through to get to the beginning of the real story–when he discovers the women in the truck. Again I say, it’s worth it.

The writing could be better, but to be honest, I didn’t care. I can live with some weak sentences and a slightly confusing line now and then for something so important. The heart of this story was to shed light on the sex trafficking that is far too prevalent in the shadows in our world. Seeing what these women go through in various stages of being forced into prostitution is heartbreaking and really makes you root for James and his new friend Dale.

Speaking of Dale–he’s my favorite character in the book, but to be honest, I don’t know if I would have loved him quite so much if I didn’t remember him from the movie, played so well by David Koechner. Still, he is a great friend and helper to James, and it is mainly Dale who infuses the spark of faith in God back into James. While the Christianity presented in the book isn’t very strong, I think it comes across clearly enough, especially near the end.

I am not the most emotional person, but during the last 2 chapters, I think I cried more than I ever have over a book before. The message of the book can be summed up with this quote: “…there’s a God who knows exactly what you’re worth…” It was basically everything I would have wanted for an ending to this story. Sadly, it doesn’t end this way for most women in similar situations to this.

I definitely recommend this book for Christians to read, but really, for anyone who has a daughter, sister, or any female friends or relatives…or is a female herself. It really carries past the sex trade and into our everyday lives, affecting how we see ourselves, and how we value ourselves and feel we should be valued.

Find out more about Priceless and Joel & Luke (for King and Country)
Listen to “Priceless,” the song (it’s a shortened version and the video is a little spoilery, but the best one I could find on YouTube)

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Book Review: Smoke Screen

Finished Reading: Smoke Screen
by Terri Blackstock

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Christian suspense, romance

Cilka's Journey: A Novel

Brenna and Nate were high school sweethearts, a relationship that ended in heartache when Nate’s father was convicted of killing Brenna’s father. Soon after, Nate left town amid accusations that he’d burned down the local church. Fast forward almost 15 years, and Nate returns to town an injured hero, and Brenna is fighting a bitter custody battle for her two children. Nate’s father has been released from prison, but most people still believe he is guilty, including Nate. While Nate tries to reconnect with his father and Brenna tries to fight her own demons while also fighting her ex-husband, Nate and Brenna realize that their flame is still burning.

This book gave me all the feels…I got angry, I smiled, and I shed some tears. Nate was incredible, Brenna was all too real, and their relationships with God were presented in a very real, positive way. I am very glad that I read this book.

The book is listed on Netgalley as a mystery/thriller, but it really isn’t either of those. It’s more drama & suspense, with a heavy romance. Yes, the mystery of who killed Brenna’s father, as well as who burned down the local church, are addressed in the book, but they are some of the smallest plot threads, at least until near the end. One of the biggest arcs is Brenna’s battle with her horrid ex-husband. That was the part that had me angry. I won’t pretend that things like this can’t happen in real life, but the way it all went down was just…so aggravating. And because of this situation, Brenna was struggling with alcoholism, which was a heavy element in the book as well. But it was difficult to blame her, considering how she was being steamrolled into not being able to take care of her children properly.

The relationship between Nate and Brenna was one of the sweetest romances I’ve read in a long time. It was not about the physical, but purely about the emotional & historical connection between them. That Nate was able to look past the effects of her currently terrible circumstances to see the real woman, and gave her a lifeline when she needed one the most, while allowing her to build her own strength, rather than relying purely on him, all makes him one of my favorite male romantic protagonists ever.

The book was told in first-person perspective, but switched back and forth between Nate’s and Brenna’s points of view, which I found a little disorienting. Each time we switch, or even just when there’s a new chapter, we are clearly told who’s perspective we’re in, but I still had a difficult time with it. And I’m not sure there was really a good enough reason to do it this way.

I think that one of my biggest issues was with the predictability and contrivances that I noticed. One of the things that happened near the end I basically assumed had to happen, though weirdly, even when it did happen, it turned out to not be for the reason I thought it was necessary. And a few events were a little too coincidental, happening purely to make sure the plot went where it was supposed to.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I was surprised by how quick and easy of a read it was, and would recommend it to all fans of Christian drama, suspense, and romance.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. 

Find out more about Smoke Screen
Publication date: November 5, 2019

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