Book Review: Seconds to Live

Finished Reading: Seconds to Live
Homeland Heroes #1
by Susan Sleeman

My rating: 2.5 / 5
Genre: Christian suspense, romance

Seconds

When the WITSEC database is hacked and the lives of federal witnesses are put in jeopardy, U.S. Marshal Taylor Mills works with FBI Agent Sean Nichols and his team to find the hacker, recover the witness information, and keep an already-exposed witness safe. Mills & Nichols have a tenuous online friendship, which is put in turmoil when they meet for the first time to work on this case together.

Right off the bat, this book introduced a character in a way that painted her in a terrible light, and it never really recovered from there for me. The police procedural-type story was all right, but the romance was strained and the characters and dialog were wooden.

I never really did like the female MC. After she ignored calls from a witness in danger because she was too put-upon, I just couldn’t understand why she is touted as an amazing U.S. Marshal the rest of the book. (Honestly, if she’s so overworked that she needs an hour in the tub that badly, which she got into after missing 2 calls from a witness, who she knows could be in danger…maybe it’s time to find another job.) The male MC wasn’t too bad. As far as side characters went, I think that if the other FBI team members had been given more time in the spotlight, it would have helped. Instead, we got the ridiculous Dustee (the federal witness) and her childish attitude.

The federal agents searching for the hacker before thousands of witnesses were compromised could have been a decent story. Unfortunately, their emotions got in the way. Every. Step. Of. The. Way. Every other thought the two MCs had was about each other and how they felt about the other, how they just wanted to stare at the other, how they didn’t know how to proceed when neither of them really wanted a relationship. And how they both had such hardships in their past that they couldn’t really trust anyone. It permeates so much that it drags down the action & suspense side of the book.

Besides what I already mentioned about the romance, it was far too much about the physical for my taste, especially in a Christian novel. Don’t get me wrong–there is no sex, and not exactly a lot of touching. But there is a lot of gazing, staring, even (in my opinion) leering. Too much narration about watching hips and legs…and it all became so repetitive. And there was so much discussion at inappropriate times, in the middle of important parts of the investigation.

There was an interesting twist near the end, which I suspected only shortly before it was revealed. I liked the explanation for that twist and the real-life science behind it. I also did find myself wanting to know who the hacker was along the way, and what it would take to catch him. When the MCs weren’t coming across as incompetent because they spent more time thinking and talking about their non-relationship than they did working on the case, I liked the way the case was presented and solved. I expected a little more in the way of twists, but it’s not billed as a thriller, so that’s probably my own issue.

I don’t think the book was bad, exactly, I just had some irredeemable issues with it. If you’re a fan of drama-filled procedural stories, you very well may enjoy this. It’s clean overall–no language and light on the violence–and though the Christianity in it is a little light, it’s probably worth checking out if you aren’t bothered by the things I mentioned above. There are plenty of reviews in favor of it, so be sure to read some of those too.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bethany House for providing me a copy of this book to review.

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Book Review: The Land Beneath Us

Finished Reading: The Land Beneath Us
Sunrise at Normandy #3
by Sarah Sundin

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Historical Christian romance

Land Beneath

Clay Paxton is training to be a U.S. Army Ranger in advance of the Allied invasion of France in WWII. Leah Jones is a librarian on the military base where he’s training. He has no future, due to a recurring dream that he sees as a premonition of his death during the invasion. She has no past, orphaned at the age of 4 and torn away from her baby sisters, with no familial connections. A marriage as friends gives them both something they need, and shortly thereafter, Clay ships off for further training, expecting never to return. Neither can anticipate what will happen in the months leading up to D-Day.

This book is just so beautiful in so many ways. The main characters are both so kind and compassionate, so often willing to put others before themselves, and yet both have flaws to try to overcome. The events throughout the book meld together so well, and yet, not everything turns out perfectly. And the writing itself is clear, with a style that I found I particularly enjoyed.

I am not a history buff at all, so understand I have very little basis to say this, but I felt that the book was very well researched. With real events, real locations, and even some real people from history who were participants in this part of the invasion, it all felt very real for me.

As far as the romance goes, I know everyone has their preferences–what they like and don’t like in romance. This one hit all of the right buttons for me. I requested the ARC specifically because of 3 words in the synopsis: “marriage of convenience”. I have always loved stories where a romance develops between two people who married because they felt they had to. And it absolutely did not disappoint. There was something in the last quarter of the book that started to bug me a bit (being vague to avoid spoilers), but it paid off in the best scene ever!

I also love the fact that the romance isn’t right there in your face the whole time. It’s not the main plot, while a few other things happen as a vehicle for it. The rest of the story is full in its own right, and the romance is interweaved into that so wonderfully. I also love how both characters are so incredibly faith-driven and turn to God for help and strength constantly. Both of these characters are paralleled with Biblical characters–Leah with her namesake who was unloved by her husband. And Clay even more strongly with Joseph, who was cast into a pit by his brothers, which is how Clay feels about his own situation.

When I first requested this ARC to read & review, I saw that it was #3 in a series, but it looked to me (with a quick glance) that the novels were stand-alones. While reading, I quickly realized that they aren’t really. The three books in this series are about 3 brothers, and the other two appear in this book in some form too. This book ties up a storyline that I’m sure must thread through the first two books in some way. I’m a little sad that I read the last one first, but I loved this one so much, I’m going to have to read the others very soon! And then I’ll probably go on to try a different series by this author. This book will be the standard by which I measure all Christian romances in the future, and I don’t see it getting much better than this.

In case it’s not clear from my review, I absolutely recommend this book to all who enjoy Christian romance, Christian historical novels, and/or books with a strong focus on forgiveness and finding a place to belong.

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

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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

Gray Chamber

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: 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

Butterfly

Lila lives alone in a secluded location and hasn’t left 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. At the time of writing this review, the book was categorized as YA on some sites (though that information is less prevalent now). It wasn’t listed that way on the site I read it through and the main characters are adults, so I honestly don’t know if it’s meant to be YA. If it is, 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: 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. 

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Publication date: November 5, 2019

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Book Review: Fatal Strike

Finished Reading: Fatal Strike
by DiAnn Mills

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

Fatal StrikeA pair of FBI agents partner up to investigate a string of murders involving law enforcement officials. They have never worked together before, and but fall into a professional rhythm to work the case. What ensues is a police-procedural-type story involving a gang that kills with rattlesnake venom, a mother desperately trying to protect her son, missing persons, faith, trust, and a few interesting turns thrown in.

I read this book in 2 days, and really enjoyed it. The main characters, Leah & Jon, were smart, compassionate, and professional. They both had back stories that provided depth without being overly emo and cliched. And both had phobias that they were determined to overcome, and that they had the chance to face in the book.

I liked the way the case unfolded, with some developments that kept me guessing. I did figure out who the kingpin was, but wasn’t bothered by figuring it out in advance. In fact, I remember thinking that if didn’t go that way, I was going to question some of the author’s choices. There were a couple of smaller elements that were presented that seemed to be left hanging, but they didn’t bother me too much. I also had a very difficult time following the action in the climax, and didn’t understand why some of the things happened.

Some of the dialog seemed kind of stilted, especially between the main characters. Most of the time I couldn’t really tell who was talking, because they were so similar to each other. I’m not sure that’s a fault in the characterization, because it was clear from the beginning that they WERE similar, so maybe it was an issue with dialog tags and narration as much as anything. I also did not care for the kingpin’s dialog near the end of the book. It made him seem a lot less intelligent and dastardly than I think he was supposed to be.

The romance is a slow-burn, which is my favorite type. The characters are completely respectful of each other and of their situation (partners working a case), and the romance that develops between them is understated, almost to a point of coming from out of left field, but I prefer a little bit of a leap to the in-your-face type of romances.

And finally, the Christian aspect is well-presented. Most of the faith that is presented in the book comes from a priest who is involved in the investigation. He is wise and insightful, and even clearly shown to be a human with some flaws, but kind and devoted. Through this influence, as well as some others, both of the main characters individually begin to examine their belief in God and what it might mean for them. I even appreciated the way that the too-familiar question of why a loving God would allow bad things to happen to good people is addressed.

Overall, I enjoyed this fast-paced read and would recommend it to all fans of suspense or crime dramas, with a little faith thrown in.

Thank you to Netgalley and Tyndale House Publishers for providing me a copy of this book to review.


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Book Review: The Yellow Lantern

Finished Reading: The Yellow Lantern
by Angie Dicken

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

The Yellow Lantern: True Colors: Historical Stories of American CrimeIn this book of historical fiction, set in New England just before the beginning of the Victorian Era, a young woman named Josephine Clayton works for a doctor to pay her father’s way out of debtor’s prison. But when Josephine becomes sick and is presumed dead, her buried body is stolen by a man working for the same doctor. The story starts with her waking up, about to be dissected, and when the doctor sees she’s still alive, he plans to dissect her anyway. To save her own life, and to keep her father out of trouble, Josephine ends up embroiled in the doctor’s schemes of body-snatching. She is planted at a cotton mill in the next town over, to spy for the body snatchers and help with the actual snatching. But when the next victim is a loved one of the cotton mill’s manager (named Braham Taylor), a man to whom Josephine has become close, the gruesome business becomes a nightmare.

This book was a decent read overall. The setting was interesting. The bigger side characters had personality. I liked the back-and-forth POV between Josephine (or as we know her through most of the book, Josie) and Braham.

I was usually really happy when it switched back to Braham for a while, which tells me I connected with his character more than with Josie. I think that’s because his troubles seemed a lot more real and understandable to me. But it’s not that Josie doesn’t have serious issues. I just think her storyline was convoluted enough that I was only vaguely aware of the danger or of her reasons for going along with the body snatching plot. Her father was in trouble with…the doctor and some creditors, but I don’t know who they were, or if I’m even right about that. Alvin (Josie’s “handler”) was bad but sort of good (which isn’t bad in itself), but was owed money, yet still chose to hold back the first body he snatched in the story? It wasn’t until near the end that enough of this network of body snatchers was sorted out enough that I was at least able to appreciate the conclusion. This was probably my biggest problem throughout the book.

For the first quarter of the book, at least, I was reminded strongly of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It’s set in a cotton mill, the male lead runs the cotton mill, and the female lead is not terribly happy about coming to the town. It’s also set in a similar time period. I love North and South, so that may have helped draw me into the book at first, but it did veer off to become a vastly different story, and a good one in its own right.

The other big downside, in my opinion, is that the body snatching was really not as big a part of the plot as it seemed like it should be. I mean, it haunted Josie throughout the book, and at the end, we can see an inter-connectedness that we didn’t necessarily know was there sooner, but it was supposed to be a twist, I think, that these things were connected. So they didn’t seem to play into the body snatching plot, except that it was predictable enough that I didn’t really see much shock factor in the reveal. Or maybe it wasn’t supposed to be a surprise, and in that case, it was just kind of bland.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. The book is listed as Christian, and it holds up well in that department. The romance was sweet and clean (just how I like it), and I would recommend this book for fans of Christian romance, though probably not 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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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!