Shattered Trust (J. Chris Richards)

ShatteredTrust_Ebook1 copyJ. Chris Richard’s debut novel, Shattered Trust is everything a suspense novel should be. Written for the inspirational market the journey to redemption by a police officer could not be more timely given the current events in our nation.

Officer Logan Taul realizes that he’s become a monster. Not a police officer out to protect the public but more to assert his authority. Confronting the evil within him is painful enough without the need to confront it from without and his transformation comes with a cost. Logan embraces this journey in spite of the pain and sacrifice to become the kind of police officer he intended to be when he started on the force. But his journey also reveals other areas in his life desperately needing reform.

A group of rag-tag teenagers adopt him and begin to show him what life and friendship are really all about. Although he’s tutoring some of them, he’s the one learning the real-life lessons he’d lost along the way. And when physical attacks come, and his reputation is torn to shreds, it is the faith of these young people who keep him moving forward to redemption.

He also confronts his real identity as a dead-beat father and strives to reconcile with his estranged ex-wife and children. This too is not easily done.

In our country, police are often maligned and while this story shows a corrupt officer, it is one of redemption, growth and earning the right to wear the badge. Officer Logan Taul shows how difficult and dangerous that struggle can be and his change and its ripple effect impact the lives of many around him.

This story grabs you and doesn’t let go. We all have monsters as part of ourselves and while this is a novel filled with suspense it is also one of hope and a story of healing and growth that is heartwarming. Kudos to J. Chris Richards for her rich characters and storytelling. Blue lives matter and she honors that beautifully. 

The Secret of Pembrooke Park (Book Review)

I’m typicaly a prolific reader but struggled with Julie Klassen’s latest Regency-era historical fiction, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Typically in cases like this I wouldn’t even post a review but as I received a free copy from Bethany House, I am obligated to do so.

Abigail Foster is trying to save her family from financial ruin. Ever practical, and in search of inexpensive housing they agree to travel and live at Pembrooke Park, a home abruptly abandoned eighteen years past. Mysteries abound including the story that there is hidden treasure in the mansion. Abigail hopes to find it and restore her family’s fortune.

The local curate is welcoming and as much as his family knows the history of the place. His only warning is that strangers might come to search for the treasure. Mysterious letters and hidden rooms provide diversion in her quest as does the handsome pastor. Maybe she’ll find both love and treasure. . . or danger.

This book is indicative of some others from this publisher which contain far more detail than necessary to tell the story. I found myself bored and easily setting it down for days on end with no real desire to pick it up again. I love Regencies but this is not a traditional light, sweet, Regency. It is a historical novel. While well-written it was not what I anticipated and coming in at 456 pages seemed too long of a book for the story to be told.

Freed to Forgive (Book Review)

freed to forgiveJulie B. Cosgrove has written two fabulous romantic suspense novels with a plot involving human sex-trafficking. Freed to Forgive is the culmination of those two previous stories. The first was Hush in the Storm followed by Legitimate Lies. Marisol’s story is woven in small nuggets into the two previous books but due to the demands of her readers, Marisol’s journey is finally in print.

Marisol is a young woman being abused by her father and brothers in a small village in Mexico. Anger burns within her so when the opportunity to go to America is presented she believes the lies she’s told and leaves. The journey there is harrowing and she finds herself using the skills she learned in her village to try to save another young slave who is still a virgin. Eventually, however, she finds herself pregnant. She gives up her child hoping it can live a better life. In the process she escapes her captors and strives to live a life free of her shameful past.

Ten years pass and she learns over and over that men are not to be trusted. When Jesse shows interest she struggles to accept that he could truly want to know her and not just use her for her body. She struggles to keep her past hidden but her bitterness and resentment over all that has happened bubbles up to torment her  and keep her stuck. Can God really help her forgive those who abused and trafficked her? And can she really move forward in freedom and the love of a godly man?

This story is an emotionally fraught one filled with some disturbing scenes. Julie does nothing to hide the horrors of all that Marisol and so many others in our own country endure at the hands of modern-day slave-traders. In spite of that she is not gratuitous or unnecessarily explicit in those descriptions but it is good for the reader to be aware. All the instances are necessary for the plot of the book.

The reality of human trafficking in America deserves fiction like this to help us understand the horrors. We all need to step up to stop this tragedy as well as help those either caught in it or recovering from it. Either through prayer, or awareness or engaging further in the fight. I’m glad Julie Cosgrove has had the guts to tell Marisol’s gritty tale. The reality is we are all at times trapped and wounded by the sins of others and the lessons Marisol learns are for us all. God forgives and there is freedom in Christ.

Red Like Crimson (Book Review)

red like crimsonI’ve always loved Janice Thompson’s writing so when I had a chance to snag a free kindle version of Red Like Crimson, I did so and read it at the first opportunity. This book read so easily it felt like a novella but it is a full length novel.

Eight years ago, Adrianne abandoned the man she loved and her education when she discovered she was pregnant. She knew that would ruin Chris’ opportunity to fulfill his dream to go to the mission field. She never told him why she left. Now years later they come face to face when he comes to Pennsylvania for a friend’s wedding. Adrianne knows it’s time to tell him the truth. He has a daughter.

Chris never understood why she left. He finished school and now works as a missionary in Nicaragua and loves it. When he meets Adrianne again old flames kindle to life and he dreams of the possibilities. Confronted by the reality that he’s a father complicates things.

In previous books by Janice Thompson faith has been seamlessly woven in and the characters are whimsical at times and humor abounds. Red Like Crimson is a departure of sorts from that kind of writing style but is no less engaging for digging deeper into spiritual truths and weaving together grace and forgiveness in the wake of sin as well as the power God has to work things to good. I had a hard time putting this one down. It may have lacked the humor of her other books which I had anticipated,  but it definitely did not lack the charm. The disappointment was short-lived as I was swept into the story she wove so skillfully.

A Tribute to Her Father

steve and bindiLast week on Dancing with the Stars, Bindi Irwin did an emotional dance tribute to her father. If you’ve watched it you know, it was moving. Especially if you see the reasons behind the dance and the emotions she experienced as Derek Hough and her prepared.

You might shed tears.

But it also made me think. I was a fan of Steve Irwin and was sad when he died. It’s sweet to see his daughter growing into such a woman of conviction, authenticity and grace.

“I wanted to be just like my dad when I grew up.” 

The reality is, if we are followers of Christ shouldn’t our lives be lived that same way? Shouldn’t our work, whatever it is, be filled with dedication to the One who gave us life, physical and spiritual? As I write I hope my words will give testimony to the One who gifts me to do so.

But the same should be true of my parenting. All my relationships. Even the way I drive my car! (ouch, right?)

Every day, every action I can take should be out of dedication and devotion to the One who loved me first. The One who numbers my days. He is the One who sustains me after all.

It might not make people cry, but as much as Bindi’s dance reminded us of the vitality and impact of her father on the world to those who knew him (and possibly now to those who didn’t as well), how much more should ours invite others to see Christ in a new light.

Now we’re not perfect and all my efforts will be a dim reflection of His glory, but still, if my intention and worship is evidence in my actions, wouldn’t He be more glorified in this dark world longing for beauty and hope? The kind of beauty and hope only Jesus Christ can bring?

Dance on . . .

Reviving Jules (Book Review)

reviving julesPeggy Trotter loves to take women beaten down by life and resurrect them and hopping into her stories to enjoy the journey is an adventure. This is no less true than with her latest contemporary inspirational romance novel, Reviving Jules.

Believing marriage was forever, Jules Summers is stunned when her’s falls apart. She runs from her church, family and town to lick her wounds in private. And she runs away from the God she believes let it happen. humiliated, depressed and alone, she struggles to survive day by day. When a little girl appears in her backyard, she has no clue that God is showing her just how little He forgets.

Rhett Carsen is the father of the little girl and strikes up a friendship with Jules. He too has been wounded by love-gone-wrong and has vowed to never remarry. But trying to work full-time and care for his precocious daughter when he needs to travel means he needs help.

He enlists the lovely Jules as a nanny since she to be a teacher and has bonded with his daughter. Her life is moorless and his need for help is so great, what could be wrong with a business relationship to ensure that?

The journey these two characters take is heartwarming. I’m not sure why Jules’s journey resonated so much with me but it did and watching her come alive to God, to love and to forgiveness in the wake of all the challenges she faced was a joy to read.


Mamarrazi (Book Review)

Mamarrazi book coverI love how author Brooke Williams puts her characters into impossible situations, and she hasn’t lost her touch with Mamarrazi.

Danica Bennett has always wanted to be a photographer.

A real professional shutterbug. But unlike her mom who specialized in landscapes, she wants to take photographs of people. Unfortunately in her desperate need to care for her ailing mother and pay the rent, she has to work undercover as one of the despised Hollywood paparazzi. She slips in and out of scenes and leaves a cherry lip balm kiss on the back of her photographs that are delivered through her back alley agent. When she tries to get the lay of the land for a photo of the star of the hour, she ends up being mistaken for an extra and now she becomes the star.

Falling in love with the lead actor, Eliot Lane, and keeping a secret from him while hiding her professional identity takes it toll.

Now she’s the one whose photos are in the tabloids and whom gossip is written. When her secret is discovered, she could lose everything, including the love of a great man. And in the most publically humiliating way possible–in front of the very press she used to be a part of.

Brooke tells a compelling story and makes you want to root for the underdog. The physical comedy she adds to her romances exhibits a unique skill as a writer. If you want a romance that will make you smile, this is the story for you. Clean, wholesome romance anyone could enjoy. After all, don’t we all want a guy like Eliot?