Category Archives: Fiction

Jacob’s Bell

Title: Jacob’s Bell
Author: John Snyder
Publisher: FaithWorks
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1039-5

“If I can gain the love and acceptance of my children after what I have done to them, I will never ask for anything else,” Jacob begs in John Snyder’s holiday tale, Jacob’s Bell: A Christmas Story.

~ What ~
At two-hundred-and-twenty-four pages, this small hardbound with a charming jacket cover targets those who enjoy a Christmas story of forgiveness and redemption. Dedicated to Salvation Army Bell Ringers, the story has acknowledgments and the author’s biography at the end. Including slang words such as dang, crap, darn, and damn, its topics of alcohol abuse, war, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers.

In this story set in 1944, sixty-three-year-old Jacob McCallum has lost his wife, family, and business, turning to the bottle to forget his guilt, shame, and poor decisions. After years of drinking, carousing, and having poor judgment, he meets a man who runs the local Salvation Army and helps him change his ways. With the desire to make amends with is adult children, he encounters a young girl who captures his heart while learning how to forgive himself.

~Why ~
This is a short, quaint story about redemption, hope, and forgiving. I like how the writer sets the scene dealing with the main character’s shortcomings and feelings of unworthiness. With a few references on faith in God, it shows how the Almighty is always there for us, no matter what we have done.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with God may have no interest in this read. Some may find the characters stereotypical and the plot predictable, but its value rings soundly as Jacob changes his ways for the better. I found some of the monologue unnecessary and dry.

~ Wish ~
While I appreciated the basis of turning one’s life around, finding God, and forgiving others and oneself, I wish the story conveyed more of Jacob’s inner struggles in not being able to reestablish family relationships. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence and no slang or cuss words in a faith-based book.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a redemptive Christmas story about an older man ardently seeking forgiveness from his family, this would be a thoughtful read, hopefully contemplating one’s own family relationships.

Thanks to FaithWords for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jacobs-bell-john-snyder/1127922431

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Christian, Fiction

Enclave

EnclaveTitle: Enclave
Author: Thomas Locke
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2791-8

“There are bound to be people who are frightened by your gift,” Caleb is told in Thomas Locke’s novel, Enclave.

~ What ~
This tw0-hundred-and-eighty-eight-page paperback targets those who enjoy futuristic reads with against-the-norm characters. With no profanity, topics of mind-control, imprisonment, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending has the author’s biography and advertisements.

In this story based in what used to be America’s South where the Great Crash was a century ago, Caleb, a member of the Catawba enclave in the Appalachian foothills, is keeping a secret to save his clan’s future. After he meets Kevin, a former deputy, he goes on a quest to not only protect what he knows but also to rescue the one he loves.

With Caleb’s special powers and Kevin’s leadership qualities working from different perspectives, the two help the adepts and mentats stay one step ahead of the militia and Washington suits to find freedom.

~ Why ~
In a fictional tall when a person has unique capabilities, often he or she wants to use their gifts to help others. I like how the book shows one can learn from mistakes by making them right and improving the future. I enjoyed reading about the eclectic group of wanted specials and their exclusive gifts.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like futuristic fiction that involves mind-control and environmental-alteration will pass on this read. Some may feel the book gets confusing with two ongoing groups of people and how they progress to accomplish their goal. Others may find the story could have been more adventurous and interesting when it involved the attributes of the adepts.

~ Wish ~
I usually love reading Thomas Locke / Davis Bunn books, but this one seemed slow and haphazardly written, almost lacking direction and a satisfying ending. A list of characters would be helpful at the beginning of the novel.

~ Want ~
If you like a futuristic book about sacrificing to save others, this may be a good read that would be appreciated by the young adult market.

Thanks to Baker Publishing for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enclave-thomas-locke/1127953116

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Book Review, Fiction

Bodyguard for Christmas

Title: Bodyguard for Christmas
Author: Carol J. Post
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 978-1-335-54400-1c

“But I am begging You, for Colton’s sake, please bring Liam back home,” Jasmine desperately prays in Carol J. Post’s novel, Bodyguard for Christmas.

~ What ~
Part of the Love Inspired Suspense series, this two-hundred-and-twenty-four-page pocket-sized paperback targets those who enjoy inspirational suspense while dealing with deep loss, past pain, and redemption. With no profanity or sexual content, topics of illness, physical abuse, kidnapping, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book promotes that God is aware of what we are going through, good or bad. An author’s note and insert of other Love Inspired series books are at the end.

This current-day story based in the South, determined, ex-military Jasmine is hired as a bodyguard to protect Liam, the young son of a widowed assistant district attorney. Although she is highly trained and disciplined for the position, she is insecure that she never measures up.

A twin who lost his wife less than a year ago, Colton is distressed and cautious when Liam, who has stopped speaking, is nearly kidnapped. With Jasmine’s help and protection, the two adults work closely together to find out who and why someone is after his son.

As multiple death threats occur, Jasmine doubts she is good enough for Colton, while he wonders if he can move on after his wife’s demise. Each must realize God allows healing from unexpected sources while they are challenged by their insecurities.

~ Why ~
The fast-paced tale shows how its two main characters must deal with their past heartbreaks to overcome their loss, fears, and relationship problems. Including the death of a spouse and its effect on others, the book shows how a parent would do anything to keep his child safe and protected. I like the author’s way of portraying her broken and imperfect characters who are urged to seek God for help. Like her other books, there is no eternal plan of salvation given, but the underlying story is about trusting God to protect and save.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not know Jesus Christ personally may not appreciate the concept of being a relationship with Christ, who sometimes allows us to go through the storms of life to grow closer to Him. Some may not care for the topic of a young child being kidnapped.

~ Wish ~
While I think this is one of the writer’s best books I have read, I do not care for the title as it seems corny relating it to Christmas; I would have chosen something more engaging. I wish Cade’s role had more closure in the story.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a suspenseful fiction that includes child abduction, dealing with one’s past, and romance, this short read with a surprising ending shows how far a father and bodyguard will go to protect a child.

Thanks to the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bodyguard-for-christmas-carol-j-post/1128492735

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Lady of a Thousand Treasures

Lady of a Thousand TreasuresTitle: Lady of a Thousand Treasures
Author: Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Tyndale House
ISBN: 978-1-4964-2683-3

“I think you should investigate and find the truth, as you always do with your treasures,” Eleanor is told in Sandra Byrd’s novel, Lady of a Thousand Treasures.

~ What ~
The first in the Victorian Ladies series, this four-hundred-and-sixty-four-page paperback targets those who enjoy romantic fiction involving antiquities and art collections with mystery and history painted into the story. Topics of poverty, prison, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes the author’s note, acknowledgments, ten discussion questions, author’s biography, and advertisements.

In this 1800s romance told in first person, twenty-five-year-old Eleanor Sheffield feels she is no one’s treasure when she becomes the trustee of an English baron’s massive art collection, having the arduous task of deciding to donate it to a museum or give it all to Harry, the baron’s unloved son.

As a talented art historian and evaluator who has worked for her father and uncle’s business and may have to take over due to unforeseen circumstances, Eleanor is torn between her love for Harry, who seems to be aloof and late all the time, and the golden opportunity to join the elite Burlington Fine Arts Club, which would promote the family business. When fraudulent artwork, unkept promises, and unpaid notes compile, the woman who feels as unwanted and used a pawn must stand up, reclaim her integrity, and trust God for answers.

~ Why ~
With England as the backdrop, this read not only shows how treasured antiquities were categorized, repaired, tested for authenticity, and fraudulently reproduced while countries cherished and protected their art collection, but it also recalls how society scorned women business owners and those who were impoverished. I liked the thoroughness of details of the artworks and attention to caring for the elderly, needy, and imprisoned.

~ Why Not
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not understand how God is in control, even when we do not understand why. Some may not like the repetitiveness of Eleanor’s emotional state trying to make the right decision or Harry’s consistent tardiness that he seems to ignore. Others may find the topic of artwork in the Victorian age uninteresting.

~ Wish ~
With many characters who are threaded throughout the tale, it would be helpful if there were a brief list of names at the beginning of the book for reference. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a romantic fiction of art evaluators and collectors during the nineteenth century that includes mystery and intrigue, this is a good read that has twists and turns as two individuals learn what to treasure the most.

Thanks to Tyndale Blog for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lady-of-a-thousand-treasures-sandra-byrd/1128198740

 

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A Sparkle of Silver

A Sparkle of Silver

Title: A Sparkle of Silver
Author: Liz Johnson
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2962-2

“She kept saying that there was more than treasure buried at the Chateau. She said the truth would be there too,” Millie explains in Liz Johnson’s novel, A Sparkle of Silver.

~ What ~
The first in the Georgia Coast Romance series, this three-hundred-and-seventy-page book targets those who enjoy contemporary Christian romance, missing treasure, and relationship dynamics. With no profanity, adult topics of old-fashioned improprieties may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an excerpt of the next book, acknowledgments, and author’s biography.

Set on St. Simons Island in Georgia, this tale involves Millie Sullivan, a young woman who must work three jobs to make sure her aging and forgetful grandmother’s finances are covered at an assisted living facility. When her dear grandmom mentions a diary of her mother’s that was hidden ninety years ago at the once-famous local estate, she adds another job title of actress to the mansion’s tours to search for the book.

During her snooping and sleuthing, Ben Thornton, a history professor who is a security guard there and trying to pay off debts he never caused, finds he has no choice but to partner with her to help her locate the old diary that is supposed to include a treasure map.

As the two rush to find the answers, the clock of the past ticks on, explaining more than where the treasure is but also who Millie is and how Ben can be rid of his guilt.

~Why ~
With the theme of forgiveness, this is a romantic story of finding what is most important in life. Although money acquired by finding the treasure would pay the bills to take care of her grandmother, Millie initially wishes she was related to a rich man her great-grandmother met at the estate so long ago. Through sins of action and inaction of the past and present, the two protagonists learn God is the ultimate provider, not money. I like the descriptions of decades-old societal rules and ways.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like Christian romances will pass on this story that promotes God’s mercy and forgiveness while learning to forgive others. Although no eternal plan of salvation is discussed, it does have references to the Bible and sporadic prayers to God. With a twist at the end, the romances are predictable and some of the characters continually waver on their decisions. While I have read a prior book by this author, I found this one less engaging due to its stereotypical characters.

~ Wish ~
I found some of the instances of sneaking around to find the treasure, lying to others, and conversing to oneself for assurance handled flippantly by the characters, especially those who trusted God. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a mystery of a woman’s desire to not only take care of her grandmother but also learn about her lineage, this may be a good read, but I found myself often skimming pages that were bogged down, wanting to know the outcome of the story.

Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on my honest opinion.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-sparkle-of-silver-liz-johnson/1127953156

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Freedom’s Light

Freedom's LightTitle: Freedom’s Light
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0-7852-1938-5

“Your light led me to freedom, my love. What need have I of a lighthouse when you are by my side?” Hannah is told in Colleen Coble’s novel, Freedom’s Light.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those interested in a historical Christian romance during the American Revolutionary War. With no profanity, the topics of fornication, physical abuse, war, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes a note from the author, acknowledgments, eight discussion questions, and the author’s biography.

Set mainly in Massachusetts in 1776, Hannah Thomas has fled from Galen Wright, a Tory who wants her only for his own, and is married to a lighthouse keeper. When her older husband joins the colonists to fight against Britain and is killed, her only option is to tend to the lights that keep the ships at sea safe. However, when injured Birch Meredith washes ashore, she nurses the captain with an agenda back to health, praying God will deal with the man’s bitterness and vengeance. More complications arrive when her younger sister becomes obsessed with Galen, not realizing how evil his intentions are.

~ Why ~
This story shows how both sides of the Revolutionary War had to deal with harassment, hatred, and hangings, while love lighted the darkness of loneliness, heartbreak, and guilt. I enjoyed seeing the struggle the characters faced when challenged with family problems, loyalty, and hiding secrets. There are unexpected twists of stubbornness and deceit as well as selflessness and tenderness. I appreciated the protagonist’s reliance on God when dealt with legalism, making major decisions, and helping others.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like wartime stories of romantic relationships may not enjoy this book. Others may feel uncomfortable reading about premarital sex, but there are no graphic descriptions, only repercussions and how society dealt with it in the colonies. Since spies were prevalent during the war, their chronic lying may be viewed as immoral to some readers.

~ Wish ~
Including a map and list of characters may help some readers.

~ Want ~
If you are fascinated with how Tories and Loyalists survived dealing with America becoming independent while including a love story with heartbreak, this is an engaging read. I found it to be one of my favorite Coble books.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/freedoms-light-colleen-coble/1127455191

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Everything She Didn’t Say

Everything She Didn't SayTitle: Everything She Didn’t Say
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2701-7

“There is more than one way to tell a story …,” the back jacket declares in Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, Everything She Didn’t Say.

~ What ~
Based on an actual person, this three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets those interested in a pioneering woman’s viewpoint of the American West in the early 1900s. With no profanity, topics of illness and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. At the beginning are a map and character list while the ending includes author’s notes, acknowledgments, reader’s guide, author’s interview, biography, and advertisements.

In this story written in first person that spans almost fifty years, Carrie Strahorn documents her life of getting married to Robert, a writer and railroad promoter, and traveling the American West as partners to hopelessly wanting to own a home and have children. Being one of the first pioneering women, she has fierce determination to be a lady of dignity and class as she sleeps under the same roof with twenty-six men, rides a cowcatcher, scales down a gold mine, avoids black bears, and often spends time alone, without her man.

As Carrie portrays the wilderness, mountain ranges, train trips, town start-ups, and travelers she befriends, she shares her experiences and memories in a tainted sweet light while hiding the turmoil inside of wanting to settle down and become a mother. Always putting her husband first, she commits to being with him wherever he goes, even if it means giving up her dreams.

~ Why ~
With each chapter beginning with the author’s depiction of the heroine’s thoughts, it ends with actual excerpts from Strahorn’s memoir that are interesting. I like the descriptions of the towns the couple started as most are well-established and thriving today. The explanations of what a woman had to endure societally, physically, and with her husband to survive in the West were succinct and to the point.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of a woman’s trek back and forth America to follow her husband when horses, wagons, and trains were the only forms of transportation will avoid this book. Some may think the marriage of the protagonists is stifled, showing little trust in each other as they each went about their own business, rarely sharing or divulging their wishes. With a vague plot, the ending drops abruptly, so one must read the notes to find out the real story of Robert and Carrie Strahorn. Although references of God are mentioned occasionally throughout the read, there is no plan of eternal salvation.

~ Wish
There may be more than one way to tell a story, but I did not care for this book’s way of writing a memoir of another’s memoir. I found it frustrating as the author may not know the true emotions or feelings that may never have happened as she read between the main character’s original words. I was easily irritated with the rendition of Robert as an often insensitive, selfish scoundrel while Carrie was superficial, always trying to be in her “happy lanes” by condescending to her husband’s demands. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like historical fiction about a pioneering woman’s memoir that is rewritten with fictionalized personal inflection, this may be for you, but I struggled through it, often wondering what was real and what was not.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-she-didnt-say-jane-kirkpatrick/1127953154

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Filed under ** Think Twice - I Didn't Like It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

White as Silence, Red as Song

White as Silence, Red as Song: A NovelTitle: White as Silence, Red as Song
Author: Alessandro D’Avenia
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0-7852-1706-0

“Yet it is Beatrice who opened my eyes, who made me see what I wasn’t seeing,” Leo realizes in Allesandro D’Avenia’s novel, White as Silence, Red as Song.

~ What ~
Originally written in Italian in 2010, this two-hundred-and-seventy-two-page hardbound targets those who appreciate heartbreaking teenage love stories. Using slang and curse words, topics about anger issues, illness, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The New International Version of the Holy Bible is referenced.

In this current-day tale that is written in first person, sixteen-year-old Leo is deeply infatuated with red-headed Beatrice, yet he has barely spoken to her. Through Silvia, a mutual and dear friend, he writes letters and texts that he never sends until he learns his love is terminally ill. After giving his blood that he is convinced will save her, he cherishes their relationship that teaches him about the meaning of life and tragedy of death. Observing colors including stark white and deep red, he befriends a substitute teacher who helps him realize his dreams. As his relationship with Beatrice comes to a close, he understands how to live in the moment and love those he has depended on over the years.

~ Why ~
Focusing on experiencing first-time love, this covers the gambit of the emotions, stress, turmoil, and joy that teens encounter growing up. I liked the author’s effort at the romanticizing colors, writing letters, walking his dog, competing at soccer, or studying frustrating school subjects as he pours his eclectic thoughts out on paper.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not see the validity of believing in God, especially when someone they love is dying. Others who do not like romantic stories may think the read is predictable and unrealistic how a sixteen-year-old maturely handles heartbreak.

~ Wish ~
Although I liked Leo’s character, sometimes he comes across too wise for his tender age. Even with the Catholic teachings, the book does not contain the eternal plan of salvation. I prefer reading stories that do not include profanity and wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a spiritual coming-of-age story of one realizing life must involve loving others and having faith in God, you might enjoy this quick read that adults may relate to more than teens who have never been in love for the first time.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/white-as-silence-red-as-song-alessandro-davenia/1127455170

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Hidden Among the Stars

Hidden Among the StarsTitle: Hidden Among the Stars
Author: Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Tyndale House
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1732-9

“Is it possible that Annika found treasure in one of these lakes or in a mine near Hallstatt? And if so, what happened to it?” Callie ponders in Melanie Dobson’s novel, Hidden Among the Stars.

~ What ~
At four-hundred-and-sixteen pages, this paperback targets those who enjoy historical fiction involving loyalty of friends, keeping secrets, and heartbreak. Topics of the Nazis, abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers.

In this story told in chapters decades apart, thirty-year-old bookstore co-owner Callie Randall writes in first person as she tries to find the original owners of old books she now owns. When she reads cryptic notes in a famous children’s storybook, she is determined to find out who was the Annika who wrote it years ago and why, especially because it may involve hidden treasures Jewish Austrians buried during World War II.

Also told throughout the tale, chapters revert back to the 1930s near the Dornbach’s summer castle estate near Hallstatt, Austria, where young Annika Knopf, the caregiver’s daughter who lives on the property, is infatuated with Max Dornbach and would do anything for him, even if it meant giving up who she is.

As Annika realizes Max is in love with someone else, the Nazis are rounding up anyone Jewish, including Luzia Weiss, a young lady who happens to somehow be connected to Callie’s dear friend and prior owner of the bookstore. As the Germans march into Austria, not only does Annika, Max, and Luzia have secrets to keep, but the truth has to be uncovered years later by a fearful Callie.

~ Why ~
Although this story tenderly shows the turmoil and suffering the Jews faced as they were ripped away from their homes, it focuses on how love, loyalty, and forgiveness of others and oneself provide solace and peace from a tormented past. I like how the chapters jumped from the past to the present while writing one of them in first person. Including Bible verses and the eternal plan of salvation are appreciated.

~ Why Not ~
Some who do not like tragedies related to the Nazis during World War II and the horrific treatment of humans may not want to read this one. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not understand how God is in control, even when we do not understand the hardships and devastation of life during the Holocaust.

~ Wish ~
With many characters who are threaded throughout the tale, it would be helpful if there were a brief list of names at the beginning of the book for reference.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a historical fiction about how others tried to protect Jewish friends and neighbors in Austria when the Nazis were taking over, this one that includes romance, as well as self-sacrifice, will be cherished and remembered months later.

Thanks to Tyndale Blog for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hidden-among-the-stars-melanie-dobson/1128198731

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Lethal Legacy

Title: Lethal Legacy
Author: Carol J. Post
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 978-1-335-54400-1c

“If he knew Andi, she wasn’t going to give up until she had turned over every stone. She’d learn what had weighed so heavily on her father,” Bryce considers in Carol J. Post’s novel, Lethal Legacy.

~ What ~
Part of the Love Inspired Suspense series, this two-hundred-and-eighty-eight-page pocket-sized paperback targets those who enjoy inspirational suspense with devotion to a parent and love. With no profanity or sexual content, topics of physical abuse, car accidents, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book promotes that God helps us when we trust and call upon Him. An author’s note and inserts of other Love Inspired series books are at the end.

Second in the trilogy, this current-day short story is based mainly in North Carolina where divorced Andrea Wheaton has returned to her father’s beloved but worn-down cabin after her parents die in a car accident. Unable to avoid the past, Andrea encounters her next door neighbor, policeman Bryce Caldwell, who was her high school sweetheart a dozen years ago, after there is a burglary in the cabin. When she learns someone is searching for something on the old property, she tries to protect her father’s legacy and respect while staying ahead of the perpetrators with Bryce’s help.

~ Why ~
The fast-paced tale shows how a young couple wonder if the flame they felt between them years ago can be reignited or smothered by the past circumstances. I like the author’s way of portraying her broken and imperfect characters who are urged to seek God for help. Like her other books, there is no eternal plan of salvation given, but the underlying story is about trusting God to protect and save.

~ Why Not ~
Similar to the prior book in the series, this one is as predictable regarding romance between two hurt people. Those who do know Jesus Christ personally may not appreciate the undertone of Christianity being a relationship with Christ, not a set of rules. Some may not care for the similarities in accidents portrayed and that the answer to her father’s dilemma was provided early in the book and easy to spot.

~ Wish ~
Since this short novel barely allows its characters to develop fully, it is good that there is a final book in the series that may bring conclusion, although there is little updating of the characters from the first book in this one.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a suspenseful fiction that includes romance and dealing with one’s past, this one shows how determined a daughter can be to clear her father’s name.

Thanks to the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lethal-legacy-carol-j-post/1127887382

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction