SECRETS & LIES by Janet Sketchley ~ a review

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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.

INESCAPABLE by Nancy Mehl ~ a much overdue review

Inescapable

I’ve been remiss. I meant to read and review this wonderful novel long ago. I can only plead a towering “to read list” that is quite unmanageable. Finally, I’ve gotten to it and I’m so glad I read this one.

 

Elizabeth Lynn “Lizzie” Engel grew up in Kingdom, Kansas, an Old Order Mennonite community hidden away in a remote rural area. She became pregnant as a teen and her stern and unbending father, an elder in the church, planted a seed of shame in her. The youth who was the father of her baby was promptly whisked away by his parents and Lizzie didn’t know what had become of him. Not able to take any more condemnation, Lizzie ran away with her baby to Kansas City.

Fast forward, five years later. Lizzie is about to lose her job at a women’s shelter as she’s been accused of stealing money. There’s also someone stalking her and sending her threatening notes. Afraid her young daughter, Charity Lynn, will be taken from her if she’s arrested, Lizzie flees, quite reluctantly, back to her home town. When she gets there she finds her father is as unforgiving as he had always been. So, she takes a job as a waitress in the local diner where she and Charity are allowed to live in rooms above the eatery.

Charity asks why her father never came back to the village of Kingdom looking for her. So, once settled in the village, both mother and young daughter have to face the same issue. Both have the same question. Does my daddy love me?

I’m used to being faced with a body at the start of a murder mystery, but in this story the murder takes place well into the story. I didn’t find that to be a problem as it’s seamlessly woven into the plotline.

Lizzie’s character is crafted in such a way that I felt as if I actually new her. A number of secondary characters came vividly to life as well. The author describes Mennonite traditions, apparel, the scenery of rural Kansas, as well ferocious winter storms in such detail the reader can clearly picture them. Yet, meticulously depicting all of these elements doesn’t negatively impact the pace of the novel.

I hate to call this a bonnet book, as it doesn’t resemble in any way the usual Lancaster, PA type of romance story. There is tension between the religious Mennonite community and the outside world, with church elders doing what they can to keep outsiders out, or at least their influence. This is to be expected. There is also a mini-revolt within the church itself: legalism vs. grace. Several of the more strident members of the church come off as slightly deranged, yet they are depicted in such a way as to allow the reader to see their humanity, as well as some of their past hurts.

A sweet romance begins to bud. Noah, a young elder in the church who is part of the contingent who believes in God’s grace, has loved Lizzie since childhood and is finally not too shy to say so. Just as this is taking off, the author throws a curve ball into the mix. That curve ball itself turns out not to be what it at first seems to be This is a story that can be enjoyed by readers from 12 to 112.

Purchase Links:

Amazon/Kindle: http://amzn.to/1j04ot0

Barnes & Noble/Nook: http://amzn.to/1j04ot0