Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: The Hidden Son by Dianna T. Benson

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"When U.S. DEA Special Agent Lelisa Desmond refuses to follow an order to bury evidence in a high profile case, her superior inexplicably hires a hit man to kill her. Lelisa barely survives the first attempt on her life, but someone close to her is mistakenly murdered in her place.

Lelisa sets off on a daring mission to bring down the man who ordered her execution. A man in a high position, with powerful friends. A man who will stop at nothing to protect his son.

Can she take him down, before he sends someone else to silence her forever?"


     A high-octane thriller, The Hidden Son is sure to jump-start your adrenaline. From the first page, I was thrust into the action; there were enough twists and turns to ride the tide until the end. I especially like a good mystery/suspense when I'm anchored in the world of historical fiction, so this was that extra dash of cayenne pepper needed to spice-up my reading.

     While I enjoyed the plot, there were a few things I felt were unnecessary and/or inappropriate. Slightly vulgar language was scattered throughout the book and the characters--even the one who was a Christian--participated in questionable activities such as the drinking of alcoholic beverages. The romance was not my cup of Chai tea considering the fact that Alec Dyer's wife was still alive and I'm not sure if the divorce was official yet. Besides, he wasn't divorcing her because of marital unfaithfulness so I don't think he'd be able to remarry Biblically--furthermore, Alec's best friend had been in love with her for years (while she was still married, mind you).

     I did enjoy the surprises tossed throughout the book--especially those concerning Alec Dyer's daughter's cold case. And the last curve ball at the end was definitely unexpected.

     Overall, the mystery/suspense was interesting and there were enough surprises to keep any reader satisfied. Although I must be honest and say I was disappointed with the previously mentioned aspects of the book, considering this is a Christian novel. I give The Hidden Son 3 stars out of 5. It can be bought at Amazon.com.

** Thank you to Ellechor Publishing House for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. **

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

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"Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He's been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn't commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he'll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa's farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He's gentle, kind, and romantic--unlike any of the men she's ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love--but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all."


     Jody Hedlund has crafted an engaging story that transported me to a small German community in 1881 Michigan. The writing is tight, peppered with vivid descriptions. Through the eyes of Annalisa, I felt the disadvantage of being a woman in a society where men dominate and rule. I felt the hardship of being a woman alone on a farm with a toddler to care for and another child on the way, struggling to maintain a farm where one's whole livelihood is invested. 
    
     Through the eyes of Carl, I experienced the transition from a life of ease--the life of a noble-- to a life of hardship and toil--the life of a peasant, a farmer. I felt the guilt of harboring a secret and deceitfully enjoying the hospitality of one who hates your "kind."
   
     And through these pairs of eyes, I discovered love. The love of God for men--and women. And the love that should exist between a man and a woman destined to become man and wife.
   
     Adding a "mail-order groom" enhanced the suspense and romantic tension, which I could have done a little less with (the romance, I mean). The historical tidbits and information on Carl's new inventions added an interesting layer to the story as well as the discovery of the cause of Annalisa's  late husband's death.

     Finally, the cast of secondary characters added believability and rounded out the story well. If you're searching for a historically rich novel with vivid descriptions and an extra dose of romance, A Noble Groom might just be the story you're looking for. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.com.

** Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. **