Tag Archives: Revell

Audiobook Review: Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Title: Sea Rose Lane
Author: Irene Hannon
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Published: June 2016
Series: Hope Harbor, Book 2
Genre: Christian fiction, Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hours, 20 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Two people starting over . . . in a town known for second chances

After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to Hope Harbor–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect who’s invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to help Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

Come home to Hope Harbor–where hearts heal . . . and love blooms

My Thoughts on the Book:

Fans of Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor (see my review of the first book in this series) will be delighted to return to this small seaside town for another fun contemporary romance with emotional and spiritual depth. The romance between Eric and BJ is sweet, with some whimsical interruptions by local wildlife – namely harbor seal Casper and seagulls Floyd and Gladys. The lead characters are sympathetic and relatable, as they work through past hurts and challenging decisions. And I appreciate the roles faith and community play in both the main plot and several subplots.

Sea Rose Lane could easily be read as a stand-alone, but those who have read Hope Harbor will enjoy spotting a number of striking parallels in plot and theme between the two stories, as well as familiar people and locations. The lead characters (and seagulls) from the last book make cameo appearances in this one. And Charley, with his seaside taco stand and incredible intuition, takes on an even bigger role than last time.

Speaking of which, after reading Hope Harbor, I made a point of trying fish tacos the next time I found the opportunity, and discovered I really like them! Reading this book brought them back to mind, so writing this review is making me hungry. LOL! Too bad Charley’s taco stand isn’t right around the corner, or I know what I’d be doing for lunch.

This book touches on some thought-provoking issues in a gentle manner that could make for a natural conversation starter. So if anyone’s looking for a book for their discussion group, this one could be a great pick. There’s even a pre-made discussion guide available on the publisher’s Web site.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

After listening to two full-length audiobooks read by Therese Plummer, her vocal inflections are becoming very familiar. I have a feeling that even if I read the upcoming Book 3 (Sandpiper Cove) in print format, I’d still “hear” it in her voice… but I plan to seek out the audiobook edition anyway. Her voice feels very natural to the series. Perhaps it’s the laid-back, casual quality that fits the small-town vibe of the book? Either way, the emotion and the characterization reflected in her reading results in a satisfying listening experience – one I would highly recommend.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site | Publisher’s Site

Book Review: Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

Title: Through Waters Deep
Author: Sarah Sundin
Publisher: Revell
Published: August 2015
Series: Waves of Freedom, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

War is coming. Can love carry them through the rough waters that lie ahead?

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Handsome and outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. On shore, Jim encounters Mary Stirling, a childhood friend who is now an astute and beautiful Boston Navy Yard secretary.

When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is discovered, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

My Thoughts:

I read Through Waters Deep in order to participate in the ACFW Book Club’s monthly discussion, and the story and characters captured my imagination. There’s a lot to this book, including sweet romance, a mystery to keep both reader and heroine guessing, a glimpse into U.S. Naval history and shipbuilding around the time of WWII, and a riveting conclusion complete with danger and heroics.

Jim and Mary are easy characters to like. They moved in the same social circle for a long time, though they were eclipsed by more extroverted people in their circle and didn’t know each other well until they wound up in a different time and place, surrounded by different people. There are romantic sparks, but each leading character believes them to be one-sided. Sigh. They both have a lot to learn about pride, humility, and acting boldly for the glory of God, when the situation calls for it. And it was a pleasure to watch them learn and grow, and embrace change.

The mystery thread was an interesting one, in which Mary attempts to help the FBI identify a saboteur. There are plenty of clues and competing theories to consider over the course of the book. I did correctly guess the saboteur by about the halfway point in the book, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment at all. As I got closer to the end, I devoured the book with an urgency to see how it would all end up.

There were a few mix-ups important to the plot that could have been cleared up if characters had just talked honestly with each other. While this sort of thing can come across as contrived, in this case I felt the characters’ motivations for their actions (or inactions) were plausible (if a bit frustrating).

The first kiss scene has some unique and entertaining elements to it (that I won’t spoil, as much as I might want to), and the book ends on a fabulously romantic note, that has the perfect resonance for wrapping up the book. Overall, very well written and engaging. And I’ve begun to grow attached to some of the secondary characters to the point where I’m looking forward to seeing them get their own happily-ever-afters in future books within the series.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book. I was not expected to write a review, but am happy to do so.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: Always Watching by Lynette Eason

Title: Always Watching
Author: Lynette Eason
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Tantor Audio
Narrator: Rachel Dulude
Published: February 2016
Series: Elite Guardians, Book 1
Genre: Christian fiction, Romantic Suspense
Length: 8 hours, 31 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity. The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians to protect his son. But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap.

Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him–including Olivia. But in her mind, even more dangerous than the threats to her life is the hold her handsome client has on her heart.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Always Watching by Lynette Eason is among the best romantic suspense novels I’ve read in a while. I particularly enjoyed the premise of this series based around a group of female bodyguards. And I’m happy to report that Olivia and the other bodyguards in her agency are in fact pretty awesome people, both professionally and personally. The romance between Olivia and Wade was fun and believably done. But I think my favorite part is seeing Olivia and Amy (Wade’s preteen daughter) face down their fears to do what needs to be done. The stalker’s attacks keep the level of suspense significant, and the author does a good job keeping readers guessing at who the culprit could be. I guessed some aspects of the ending and was completely surprised by others. I also appreciated the inspirational message. I’m definitely looking forward to reading future installments in the Elite Guardians series.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Rachel Dulude’s reading of this audiobook is excellent. The character voices, both male and female, are believable and unique. I was particularly impressed by the narrator’s rendition of the voices of a couple of preteen girls, and of one of the bodyguards who had an accent. The bulk of the story is told in a crisp matter-of-fact way, but when characters are talking and when things get emotional, the narrator puts you right there in the characters’ heads. Very well done. If audiobooks are your thing, this is definitely one worth listening to.

Thank you to Tantor Audio for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

Title: Hope Harbor
Author: Irene Hannon
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Published: July 2015
Series: Hope Harbor, Book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christian Fiction
Length: Unabridged, 9 hrs, 42 minutes

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Come home to Hope Harbor–where hearts heal . . . and love blooms.

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life–and love–altered her plans. Now she’s home again–with a floundering farm to run . . . a tragic secret . . . and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives–including their own.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Some of my favorite contemporary romances aren’t just romances. Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor is not only a sweet romance between a widow and a widower who never expected to find love again. It’s also a story of overcoming regrets, reconciling with estranged family, and recognizing divine providence in the little things that can make a big difference in our lives. Colorful secondary characters and engaging subplots interweave with the main plotline to add layers and texture to this beautifully told story.

The characters’ interactions and the story itself have a very small-town feel appropriate for its setting. I thoroughly enjoyed descriptions of life on a cranberry farm complete with honeybees and hard labor, as well as visits to the beach, Charley’s taco stand, and church functions.

Food plays something of a central role in the story. There were cookies shared between unlikely friends, cinnamon buns offered in apology, lots of trips for everyone’s favorite fish tacos, and a family recipe for cranberry nut cake that plays a yummy role in the story’s conclusion. After all this talk of food, I want to try some of it. Anyone have any favorite recipes for fish tacos or cranberry nut cake to share?

The main characters Tracy and Michael each harbor regrets related to the death of a spouse. Neither expects to find romance again. The way they work through their regrets and arrive at a place where they’re ready to consider another relationship forms the backbone of the story. And the chemistry between them is evident, even if their romantic moments tend to get interrupted by a comically persistent seagull named Floyd.

Meanwhile, there’s also the story of a charitable organization in need of revamping, a reclusive landlady who regrets becoming estranged from her son, and a teen girl and her family trying to come to terms with an unplanned pregnancy. The secondary characters and plot threads impact each other and the main characters’ story in meaningful ways, contributing to the interconnected small-town feel of the story overall.

Fans of Irene Hannon’s will enjoy her believable portrayal of characters’ emotions as well as the growth of both primary and secondary characters throughout the story, but should be aware that this one doesn’t proceed at quite the thrilling pace of her romantic suspense novels. I highly recommend it, in particular to fans of small-town contemporary romance.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Therese Plummer’s voice and narration style are well suited to this small-town romance. Her narration proceeds at a natural pace, blending into the background to give the story center stage. Character voices are well-done, reflecting the emotions of characters within each scene, and giving voice to multiple male and female voices, including that of a teen girl, which I thought was particularly notable for its feeling of authenticity.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book (Goodreads) | Audio Sample (Audible) | Audio Sample (christianaudio)| Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Book Review: Trial Run by Thomas Locke

Title: Trial Run
Author: Thomas Locke
Publisher: Revell
Published: August 2015
Series: Fault Lines
Genre: Technological Thriller

About the Book (Publisher’s Description)

Dr. Gabriella Speciale has assembled an international team of elite scientists with one goal in mind–to create and control out-of-body experiences that transcend the limits of time and space. Reese Clawson’s mind-bending experiments aim to explode the boundaries of human consciousness–and annihilate the opposition in the process.

When a terrifying discovery and a string of failed tests threaten to dismantle both programs, the key to survival may reside in the mind of a gifted grad student whose unsettling dreams have thrust him into the center of a dangerous battle for control.

As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don’t know can kill you.

My Thoughts

I am impressed by this first book in Thomas Locke’s new Fault Lines series. It is written in the style of many New York Times bestsellers with short action-packed chapters and the kind of direct prose that cuts straight to the point. As a technological thriller it also falls within a genre that’s popular in mainstream fiction, but sorely underrepresented in Christian fiction.

I actually found the opening a bit confusing as I felt I was whisked from one scene and cast of characters to another seemingly unrelated situation, and another, before becoming fully oriented in the first. About the time I was starting to wonder if I should have been taking notes to keep it all straight, the pieces started to come together and note taking proved unnecessary. Meanwhile, something about the storytelling drew me in, and kept me wanting to read on and know more. And over the course of the story, the seemingly unrelated threads came together to form a fascinating overall picture.

Shane and Trent were my favorite characters in the book. I found them likeable and relatable, at least in part because they had no more idea what was going on initially than I did. 😉 They also had sympathetic backstories, worked well together, and I wanted to see them succeed.

I found the glimpses into the ideas behind quantum computing and other research fascinating and well-handled. There was enough detail to intrigue, but not so much as to bog down the story. Also not enough to fully explain, but that’d be a lot to ask of a fictional story in which understanding quantum computing isn’t really necessary for following the plotline.

This is a book from a Christian publisher, and while a clean read, I didn’t see much in the story to make it specifically Christian, aside from a few references to guilt and forgiveness. Along those lines though, I do wonder if the maelstrom/vortex that plays a prominent role in the story could have symbolic meaning to be explored in future titles within the series? I’ll be curious to read on and find out.

An abrupt ending left me wanting a little more resolution or maybe just some more time devoted to exploring the characters’ reactions to what they’ve been through in such an intense climactic scene. But I guess that’ll have to wait for the next book in the series, due out next year. There are plenty of unanswered questions to leave readers waiting on the edge of our seats.

I have no doubt there are many readers out there who would devour this book and look forward to more in the series. In particular, fans of Michael Crichton’s and Tom Clancy’s novels should give this book a try.

Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance reader copy of this novel via NetGalley for review purposes.

See also: My review of Emissary, book one in the Legends of the Realm series, also by Thomas Locke. Plus there’s a cool Trial Run book trailer you may want to check out.

Book Review: Emissary by Thomas Locke

Title: Emissary
Author: Thomas Locke (pseudonym for Davis Bunn)
Series: Legends of the Realm, Book 1
Publisher: Revell
Genre(s): Epic Fantasy
Published: January 2015

Fans of epic fantasy in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia would be well advised to find the nearest bookstore (or device capable of downloading ebooks) posthaste.  You will not want to miss the start of the new Legends of the Realm series by Thomas Locke (aka Davis Bunn).

The parallels with classic fantasy literature found in lead character Hyam’s heroic journey are quite apparent, but the story is told in a style appealing to the modern sensibilities of readers in today’s instant download age of entertainment.  What I mean by that is Emissary is a real page turner.  The writing style reminds me of a contemporary suspense novel with its short chapters and the sort of clear and easy to follow sentence structures that make a story flow effortlessly on the reader’s part.

I quickly grew to know and like the main characters and their down to earth ways and to see the need for them to accept the challenges presented and accomplish the seemingly impossible.  The Realm itself came into crystal clear focus, not through long meandering passages of descriptive detail, but through instant immersion, with important facts dropped in as they were needed.  The plot advanced quickly from point to point as Hyam mastered necessary skills, faced obstacles, and gathered the support and allies needed on his quest.  And it all led up to a thrilling life-or-death climax that I’d love to see rendered on the big screen.

Honestly, I think this novel is one with wide appeal.  It’s a story of good versus evil and of finding one’s place in the world.  It comes from a well-known (by another name) author of Christian fiction and from a Christian publishing house, but is as subtle in its Christian influences as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

I enjoyed reading Emissary well enough I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the next in the series, especially after reading the first two chapters included in this one as a teaser.  Let’s just say, Book 2 can’t come out soon enough!  And for the record, I’ve already informed my husband (a blacksmith) that if he comes across any Milantian steel, I want him to forge me a sword just like the one Joelle carries.  😉

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of Emissary as part of the Revell Reads blog tour program in exchange for my honest review.

To learn more about this book, check out the book’s description on the publisher’s Web site or view the book trailer on Youtube.  There are also some interesting Q&A posts on the author’s blog and Goodreads page.

Book Review: Deceived by Irene Hannon

Title: Deceived
Author: Irene Hannon
Series: Book 3 of the Private Justice Series
Publisher: Revell
Genre(s): Christian fiction, Inspirational Romantic Suspense, Mystery
Published: 2014

About the book (from publisher Revell):

A grieving mother. A mysterious child. And a dedicated PI who’s determined to solve the puzzle.

For three years, Kate Marshall has been mourning the loss of her husband and four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on a mall escalator, she’s convinced it’s her son. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan for help. As the former Secret Service agent digs into the case, the boating “accident” begins to look increasingly suspicious. But if Kate’s son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden–and may go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.

As Irene Hannon’s many fans have come to expect, Deceived is filled with complex characters, unexpected twists, and a riveting plotline that accelerates to an explosive finish.

My Thoughts:

Deceived is another fascinating tale by Irene Hannon featuring a good blend of romance and suspense.  If you’ve read either of the other books in the Private Justice series then you already have a good idea what to expect – charming private investigator heroes, strong yet vulnerable heroines, and three dimensional villains – and you’re no doubt eager for more.  If so, then Deceived is just the book for you.

If you haven’t read Vanished or Trapped yet, check out my reviews of those books too.  You don’t necessarily need to read them first, as each book in the series can stand alone (though the later books do refer in passing to events in the earlier books), but if you enjoy one, why not enjoy them all?

I found the plot of this book to be interesting and I enjoyed watching the characters unravelling the mystery element a little at a time, but the part I liked the most about this book was the way the characters were fully fleshed out.

My heart went out to the heroine for everything she went through.  It’s hard to even imagine losing both husband and son in one fell swoop, but the opening scene of the book where Kate finds out about the accident is well done, and you really get a feeling for what she’s going through.

The element that really made this book stand out for me was the villain, because he wasn’t your classic evil guy in a black hat who exists solely to create problems for the hero and heroine.  His motivations were complex and well thought out, and he had a genuine love for the child in the story, despite the terrible things he was capable of.

In fact, one of my favorite lines in the story was a line of dialogue in which one of the characters says, “Even normal, well-adjusted, caring people can crack if they’re forced to endure enough stress or loss or grief.  We all have our limits.” (From Chapter 21)

Interesting point.  And disturbing too.  It’s almost more frightening to read about “normal” people doing terrible things for reasons they consider good or justifiable, than to read about someone who does evil for the sake of evil.  Maybe because the “normal” bad guy seems so much more… real… or potentially real?

This is a book that will bring you to the edge of your seat.  If you enjoy a suspenseful mystery with interesting characters and a clean romance, I would recommend Deceived.

Thank you to the publisher, Revell for providing me with an advanced reader’s copy via NetGalley so I could participate in the Revell Reads blog tour.  My review represents my honest opinion of the book.

Book Review: Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley

Title: Shadows of the Past
Author: Patricia Bradley
Series: Book 1 of the Logan Point Series
Publisher: Revell
Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense

Patricia Bradley’s debut novel, Shadows of the Past, is a must read for fans of inspirational romantic suspense interested in discovering a fresh new voice. This book is first in the brand new Logan Point series as well as winner of the Daphne de Maurier Award and the Touched by Love Award.

Summary:

Part romance, part danger, part mystery, this novel tells the story of psychology professor and victim profiler Taylor Martin’s search for her long missing father as well as her attempts to determine who is stalking her and sending threatening messages. Her prime suspect is a former student who happens to be the missing brother of Nick Sinclair, the handsome mystery writer she finds herself falling for despite her own fear of abandonment and his feelings of loss and guilt over the death of his late wife.

My reaction:

I thought the author did a great job keeping the story moving and maintaining a good balance between the romance, mystery, and suspense. I enjoy a good mystery, and was pleased to find that the clues you need for this one are all there if you’re paying attention, but cleverly camouflaged so as not to jump out and draw attention to themselves until the time is right. Then, when the ending is revealed, a host of seemingly unrelated pieces fall into place for a satisfying conclusion, where it all makes sense.

Besides the mystery, I thoroughly enjoyed the tender romantic moments between the hero and heroine. I thought the author did a great job fleshing out the characters’ personalities and backgrounds and that the pace and nature of their relationship felt natural to their situation. The chemistry was evident, as well as the internal conflict as each character struggled with his or her own uncertainties.

Many of the secondary characters were well developed and intriguing as well. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next book in the series will be taking us. I have high hopes for another great read. Meanwhile, kudos to Patricia Bradley on a well crafted and engaging first novel.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes as part of the Revell Reads program. My opinions are my own. If you’d like to read more of them, please consider subscribing to my blog.

To learn more about the author, connect with her on social media, or find some great discussion questions about this novel, check out the author’s Web site at ptbradley.com. And if you’re interested in reading this book, you’re in luck, because today is the official release date.

Book Review: Trapped by Irene Hannon

Title: Trapped
Author: Irene Hannon
Series: Book 2 of the Private Justice Series
Publisher: Revell
Genre(s): Christian Fiction, Inspirational Romantic Suspense, Mystery

When Laura Griffith’s teenage sister Darcy runs away from home, Laura is determined to track her down and bring her back safely. Laura hires private investigator and former ATF agent James “Dev” Devlin in the hope that with his help, they will be able to find Darcy quickly, before she becomes victim to the winter weather or to unsavory characters. But as time goes on and the trail gets cold, Dev and Laura begin to suspect the worst. Will they be able to find Darcy before it’s too late?

Fraught with danger, brimming with suspense, this tale is one that kept me turning the pages. I’m already a big fan of Irene Hannon’s novels, and I’ve looked forward to reading Trapped with a great deal of anticipation, particularly since learning that this latest novel features a librarian as its heroine. Yes, I am slightly biased on that point, being a librarian myself, but there you have it. I’m pleased to report that Trapped did not disappoint. Once again, Hannon has lived up to her reputation as queen of inspirational romantic suspense.

I enjoyed watching the romance blossom between hero and heroine over the course of the book, but the element that made this story stand out in my mind was Hannon’s portrayal of the villain. Early on, you know that there’s something not quite right about him, but the more you learn about his background and the current situation over the course of the story, the creepier the situation becomes and the more the suspense is heightened. I am impressed with Hannon’s ability to craft a complex believable villain who is capable of committing heinous crimes and yet believes that what he’s doing is for the best. It makes for a fascinating read.

I read and reviewed Vanished, the first book in this series, not that long ago. As I read this one, I was struck by how similar the two novels are to each other. There were quite a few deja vu moments for me, as I read scenes that felt eerily familiar because of their parallels to similar scenes in the earlier novel. If you have read Vanished, you will enjoy getting reacquainted with a number of familiar characters and meeting some new ones. If you have not read it yet, don’t worry. The books complement each other but do not depend upon each other to understand and follow the story. In my opinion, you won’t be missing anything should you decide to read them out of order.

For those who enjoy reading inspirational romantic suspense, I highly recommend Trapped, as well as its predecessor Vanished. I’m looking forward to reading the next in this series. From what I’ve heard, Deceived is due out this summer, and if it’s anything like the first two in the Private Justice series, it should be a treat.

Thank you to the publisher, Revell, for providing me with a complimentary copy of the book through NetGalley for review purposes.  For some great discussion questions, check out the author’s web site.

Book Review: Vanished by Irene Hannon

Cover of Vanished by Irene HannonTitle: Vanished
Author: Irene Hannon
Series: Book 1 of the Private Justice Series
Genre(s): Christian Fiction, Inspirational Romantic Suspense, Mystery

Readers of Inspirational Romance and Romantic Suspense should find Vanished by Irene Hannon to be an interesting read.  The story begins with an unusual car accident.  Moira Harrison, the story’s heroine, is driving on an unfamiliar country road at night in the rain, when a terrified woman jumps in front of her car.  But when this woman disappears without a trace, no one believes that Moira saw her at all.  People think she must have seen a deer and mistaken it for a person given the bad conditions and her missing glasses, or that she became confused from the head injury she suffered in the accident.

But Moira knows what she saw and is convinced the woman was in some kind of trouble.  The rest of the story follows Moira’s quest for answers as she seeks to help the unknown woman she encountered on that dark country road.  Enter handsome Private Investigator and ex-detective Cal Burke, the one person inclined to believe Moira’s story.  As Moira and Cal work together to investigate the disappearance, they uncover incriminating evidence that points in an unlikely, but dangerous direction.

The suspense element is minimal in the first half of the book, but the mystery and romance elements keep the reader turning the pages.  Sufficient hints and foreshadowing allow the reader to keep a step ahead of the characters in their investigation, if you’re paying close attention.  But each question answered raises more questions in turn, pulling you continually further into the story, and making it way too hard to put down.  The romance between Cal and Moira is sweet and satisfying.  It moves at a believable pace with challenges arising from Cal’s lingering feelings for his deceased wife, and Moira’s status as a client.

As their investigation uncovers more and more evidence against their suspect, he becomes aware that Moira knows too much.  That’s when the suspense kicks into high gear, and the reader begins to wonder if Moira would have been better off letting this mystery go unsolved.

One plot twist in particular felt a little reminiscent of a Nancy Drew mystery, with the heroine rushing in where she shouldn’t and getting herself into trouble, before ultimately turning the situation around.  Nevertheless, the circumstances and character motivations surrounding her decisions felt plausible if a bit foolish, promoting a willing suspension of disbelief.

All in all, a fascinating read featuring romance, mystery, and suspense.  The characters were three dimensional and interesting, with believable motivations and reactions, even in the case of the bad guy.  The fascinating characters seem to be one of the best features of Irene Hannon’s work, along with the way she interweaves plot and character development throughout each scene, such that nothing is wasted.  It seems that everything on the page contributes something significant toward building a well crafted work of art.  Also impressive is the amount of detail in both the investigative and medical spheres, indicating the extensive research that must have gone into the writing of this book. Highly recommended for fans of Christian fiction, particularly those who enjoy romantic suspense.

For those interested in the discussability of Vanished, note that it raises a number of interesting questions about complicated issues like assisted suicide, and the ethics of using “pretexts” in private investigative work.  This book could be a good choice for stimulating discussion by a book group.  The author’s Web site, provides a number of excellent discussion questions for your consideration, but watch out for spoilers if you haven’t read the book yet!