HOPE IS A DANGEROUS PLACE by Jim Baton ~ a review

Hope is a Dangerous Place

Christian Suspense, Christian mystery

 

This novel has a mystery at it’s core and there’s no shortage of suspense. It could even be said to span genres and slip into Christian Young Adult Suspense.

Hope, Colorado has secrets, more than one. There are the ‘haves’ who’ve got all the power and the ‘wannabees’ as high school jock Jordy so crassly calls them. Harmonie Seymour’s family had been in Hope for generations on the black side of town where folks live in run-down houses. The Latino residents practically live in shacks. Bigotry is rampant. Kelsey is the new kid in town. She arrived with her widower pastor dad, Bret Axel. Both girls are outsiders in the high school and soon become fast friends. Pastor Bret Axel has the gift of prayer. He is a mighty prayer warrior, but he’s also bound by anxiety and fear since the untimely death of his wife…so much so that he pops Valerian to calm his nerves.

Enter the new high school teacher Olivia Montez, who has her own baggage. She assigns the three students in her journalism class an assignment  and has no idea will blow up in all their faces. She wants Kelsey, Harmonie, and an angry young Latino student named Miguel to interview elderly residents about the town’s name change. It was once named Purgatory. However in the mid-1940s the name was changed to Hope. There are powerful people, perhaps those in the original families, who don’t want anyone looking into the past and they will go further to stop the investigation than these three students can ever imagine.

This novel is a very good example of redemptive Christian fiction…and yet the author keeps it real, very real. Bad and/or worldly guys act and talk like bad and worldly guys. I’d recommend this novel to anyone from ages 17 to 117 who enjoys suspense and a story where the characters grow in their Christian walk.

 

ALIAS RAVEN BLACK by Barbara E. Brink ~ a review

Alias Raven Blac,

Christian Mystery, Romantic Suspense, International Crime and Intrigue

 

A fun, fast and furious journey with Brenna Blackman (alias Raven Black). The FBI has finally caught up with the erstwhile Raven Black. So has her father who has secrets of his own. He dad, hired a young, handsome private detective to find Brenna. Needless to say, Thomas falls in love with her.

Using her Raven Black crimes against her, FBI agents blackmail Brenna to go into very dangerous waters undercover as a nanny in the house of a ruthless, heartless mobster. Brenna has no skills with children, is pretty indifferent to them. Surprise, surprise…she soon falls in love with both children and is ready to put her own life in danger to protect them.

This is primarily a law-and-order detective novel driven by Brenna/Raven trying to get evidence against an evil man who is a killer…the father of those children. The drive to bring this corrupt, depraved killer drives the story, and it is also story with Christian characters maintaining their values, living their lives and doing their jobs. I recommend it as a suspenseful, seat of your pants read.

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SECRETS & LIES by Janet Sketchley ~ a review

Secrets & Lies. 2 jpg

Who can she trust?

The author sets up a situation where Carol Daniels, a pretty blonde waitress at a local café, her son Paul, and wealthy antagonist Patrick Stairs are caught in an elaborate trap set up by drug lord Lear, a man with a far reach. Sadness is a burden Carol carries as her oldest son Keith died of a drug overdose, and his father and her husband, rock ‘n roll guitarist Skip Daniels, abandoned her and Paul. As if that is not enough to weigh her down, Carol’s brother Harry Silver is in prison having been convicted of serial murder and rape. He’s also holding out on Lear, having hidden a large sum of illicit drug money, and the drug lord is threatening Carol to help him get his money back.

The author does a fine job with characterization. We get to know jittery, suspicious, emotionally shut-down Carol who is on the verge and sometimes even crosses the line at being over-protective and controlling toward her teenage son Paul. Yet, the author somehow makes this tense mother likeable, and I found myself in her corner.

Oldies radio jock Joey Hill is likeable from the get go. He’s an all-around nice guy, but unbeknownst to Carol, he’s also got a drug past. When she finds out, she’s unable to trust him and turns to Patrick who is being manipulated by Lear. And so, the treacherous web gets more tangled.

This is a Redemption’s Edge Novel, book two but it is definitely a stand-alone. It is Christian fiction and a clean read. I recommend it to anyone who likes a well plotted suspense novel with well-developed characters.

The Softest Breath (Echoes of the Heart Book 2) by Naomi Musch ~ a review

AAA The Softest Breath

Historical Romance

What I really love about this novel, well aside from the fact that the author captures the post WWI era perfectly, is that her characters are multidimensional. It’s not the often reworked scenario where the flapper has a heart of gold, but that Gwendolyn Smith has a deep interior life.

The saddest thing was Gwen’s early life. She was abandoned by her mother, befriended by Hugh Phelps, an older man who purported to be father-like, but used her incredible singing ability to make a lot of money for himself. He controlled and intimidated her, holding her emotionally and financially captive, and even physically abused her on occasion.

Jacob Hessman doesn’t have a way with women. From what I gathered in backstory, he had his heart and his pride smashed to smithereens in the previous novel in the series. I started with this novel because I like the Roaring Twenties era so much. He completely misreads Gwen when she actually physically runs into him at the St. Paul train station as she frantically tries to find a train she can board to run away from Phelps. She follows Jacob onto a train and to a small town where he helps her partially out of Christian kindness and partially out of an intense instant attraction.

This novel is well worth the read. I recommend it to anyone who loves the 1920s era in American history as much as I do.

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Guarding Candy Kane by V.B. Tenery ~ a review

Guarding Candy KaneChristmas novella, Mystery, RomSuspense

This is a wonderful Christmas mystery. I enjoyed reading the mystery driven part of it and the Christmas part of it. Loved the main characters. At points, the suspense was chilling, by the end it was uplifting and filled with Christmas cheer.

I loved the Colorado setting. In one scene we’re walking with the characters through the quaint village of Christmas Tyme, with all its cheerful seasonal decorations. Then in another scene, we’re in the snow-swept Colorado wilderness fearing for the characters’ lives.

The author is a skillful writer who takes the reader through a delightful Christmas mystery and adds that something additional that makes it a read that’s on more than one level. If I had one question to ask the author, it would be: “What’s next?”

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Christmas Under Wraps (Mullet Harbor Book 1) by Fay Lamb ~ a review

Christmas Under Wraps

Romance, Humor, Christmas

This is such an engaging Christmas story. The cast of quirky, sometimes baffling townsfolk living in Mullet Harbor pull you right in.

English Professor Christian Abrams and his nephew Dylan are on the run and wind up in Mullet Harbor, a unique hamlet in the Florida everglades. Chris is broke, out of gas, and has a child to feed. This is when he meets sweet and compassionate local school teacher Kaylee McFarland who talks him into staying in Mullet Harbor at least until after Christmas. That’s when it starts to get interesting…and when Chris learns the townsfolk really do take care of each other and they rely on their faith.

We meet Herb, the mayor who wears flip-flops…and Abigail, the shy town baker who flits around like a hummingbird. Then throw in a Cajun sheriff not afraid to take a chance on a good man. Stir in a delightful little girl named Sophie who’s had more than her share of sorrow in her short life. Could the icing on the top be a Christmas miracle? Perhaps more than one.

This is a fun, delightful read…a romp through the swamp. There’s also an alligator named Abercrombie.

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Magnolia Storms (A Coastal Hearts Novel) by Janet W. Ferguson ~ a review

Magnolia Storms

Romance, Christian Fiction

With Hurricane Dorian bearing down on the Bahamas as a Cat 5 this Labor Day weekend, I decided to finish reading this emotional novel of devastation, hope, and love.

The author skillfully achieves a sense of foreboding from the very beginning. Hero and Gulf Coast river bar pilot Josh Bergeron attempts to board a cargo ship in rough water and his foot slips off of the rung of the metal ladder. I am mostly a detective story reader and/or action-adventure. The most exciting parts of this novel for me were Josh’s scenes out on tumultuous seas.

Later in the story, we learn that heroine Maggie Marovich’s father, also a bar pilot and Josh’s mentor was swept away and lost during Hurricane Katrina. She left the Gulf Coast, never to return, but now her sister Cammie’s horrid accident and hospitalization forces Maggie back to their childhood home as another hurricane looms.

As a Christian reader, I appreciated the Bible verse that kept repeating: “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” Job 13:15

All of the characters were highly likeable and well developed in this emotional romance story. I’m not a romance reader and didn’t absolutely and totally fall into their lives. My favorite character was Aunt Ruth. I do recommend this novel to romance readers who enjoy a realistic, exciting clean read.

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