Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review of Forever Safe by Jody Hedlund

After an introductory novella and three novels, author Jody Hedlund has gone the Indie route for this next (and likely final) installment of the Beacons of Hope series. This book brings full circle the story of a wooden cross and a letter penned by Isabelle Thornton that began with the novella Out of the Storm, and are passed along in each book of the series. You can read this book as a stand-alone, yet still enjoy the legacy of the cross by reading Isabelle’s letter on Hedlund’s website. 

This installment is a little more focused on the romance and a bit less on the historical aspect.
The plot is not as intricate as Hedlund’s past books, but she crafts the story well, building tension between the main characters. Spoiled heiress Victoria Cole is quite distinct from the other women in this series set in the 1800s. Though blushingly chaste, she is much more forward—to the point of being the pursuer in many of the romantic situations. Bodyguard Tom Cushman is tricked into having young Victoria as a client—a fact that sets the tension between the two from the beginning.

Lighthouses make awesome settings for romantic stories, and with Hedlund’s descriptive writing, it’s easy to visualize gazing out from the tower across the crashing waves of the sea. A huge difference in this fourth book is that the setting has been moved from the Great Lakes lighthouses of Michigan to Cape Cod’s Race Point Lighthouse in Massachusetts. I think the more-refined east coast setting is a great fit for the story. 

It’s not every day that secondary characters come close to being your favorites. Tom’s parents, James and Zelma, were wonderfully in love, with bold displays of affection and much advice for the young. They added a delightful element to the story.

I'm sorry to see the Beacons of Hope series come to an end. Wouldn't it wonderful if Hedlund had a story for every lighthouse in the U.S.?

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and highly recommend it to fans of historical romance. It is available for pre-order and will release June 1.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Review of Hostile Witness: A Josie Bates Thriller by Rebecca Forster

When it is discovered that the death of a chief justice of the California Supreme court was no accident, his son’s sixteen-year-old step-daughter Hannah is charged with the murder. 

Defense Attorney Josie Bates is haunted by the outcome of a trial where she successfully defended a guilty client. Trying to now live low-key, practicing law in a small firm in a beach community, Josie’s old college roommate shows up at her door, begging her to defend her daughter Hannah. Josie has no intention of jumping into that life again…until she meets Hannah.

Josie Bates is a likable, strong woman who is living life on her own terms until her world is turned upside down by murder suspect Hannah Sheraton.
Josie’s intention is—for old time’s sake—to meet the girl, and then refer them to appropriate counsel. But there’s something about Hannah that compels Josie to go against her own reasoning. Josie expects a battle with the prosecutor, but didn’t envision a battle with the girl’s own family.

Forster jump-starts the story by walking us through the hard-core booking process of the sheltered young beauty arrested for murder. The contrast of the delicate character to the crude experience immediately drew me into this drama. Forster does a great job snagging sympathy for this character. Suffering from an extreme case of OCD, Hannah is shunned by her powerful step-father and smothered by a dreadful mother. The reader can’t help but feel compassion for this poor girl—innocent or guilty.

This book grabbed my attention and held it to the end. The pace is good with lots of action and courtroom drama. Forster’s descriptive writing pulled me into the scenes without it getting in the way of the story.

Although the main character was well developed, there is room for Josie to evolve even more in the next book of this series. And I do plan on reading book two and more from this author. I truly enjoyed this story and gave it five stars.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Review of Submerged by Dani Pettrey

A plane crashing into the ocean sets the pace for this energetic story. The cast of characters try to solve an ancient mystery in order to point them to the person responsible for the crash and more than one other murder.

I really loved the main character, Bailey. She comes with lots of baggage, returning to the small town where she earned her reputation, to take care of her aunt’s affairs after her aunt’s untimely accident. Even though she has turned to Jesus and changed her life, she can’t let go of the shame of her past.

An old flame, Cole, is waiting in Alaska. Bailey is ashamed to see him and all the others that remember the girl she was, but the death of her aunt throws them together.

The storyline is unique, involving a Russian bloodline and historic artifacts. Set in Alaska, the main characters do a lot of deep-water diving in search of these artifacts. This made for a fun—though not accurate—story setting.

Cole has three siblings who interact with him through much of the book. Unfortunately, there is not much development of these characters, but I suspect they will be explored more in the other books of the series. In some scenes, they seemed like set extras, adding unnecessary busyness to the dialog. There are a couple of other places in the book where too many characters interrupt the pace, but only briefly.

This is Christian fiction, and so is sprinkled with Scripture and mentions of Jesus, but in just the right amount to not be preachy.

This story held my interest and the mystery was well thought out, tying up nicely in the end. Overall, a good read.