Original Books

Original Books is the blog where you will find the best of Christian fiction reviews. We hope you enjoy this blog and that you keep up with us as we continue to post reviews. Make sure you check the Elite List, the list of books we have rated 4 stars and above and the coming soon list to see what will soon be posted. If you feel we have forgotten about an author or a book or have any questions please email us at originalbooks200@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Edge of Apocalypse by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall

Joshua Jordan is famous for inventing the Return-to-Sender (RTS) missile system that is designed to defend America's borders from the growing threat of foreign missile attack. Yet he is forced to undergo federal investigation when he uses the system before it was authorized to defend Manhattan Island from a Korean missile attack. Joshua thinks he has dodged a bullet when he escapes the Senate hearings without a prison sentence, but trouble returns when someone kidnaps his only son. The ransom demanded: the entire log of RTS documents, blueprints, and plans. Joshua is not to go to the authorities or he will not see his son alive again. Yet Joshua finds a strange source of help in a fringe group calling themselves the Patriots who seem to have unreal and unlimited resources to help Joshua with. The question is who can he trust in these trying times to get his son back alive?

Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall proved to be an interesting author combination. They proved the old adage correctly-two lefts don't make a right. They accomplished nothing together that they had not accomplished part, making this book quite a bore. However, this book looks like the beginning to a promising series because of the situation it sets up.

The characters are right the allies of these two authors-typical and plastic. One cannot actually feel like they are real people because they think thoughts or speak dialogue that shape their personalities. They say what the reader is expecting them to say under the circumstances. Joshua and his family and the villain are not model characters. The villain, Atta Ziller, reminds me greatly of Talon from Tim LaHaye's Baylon Rising series. I suspect he is trying to create a new version of him. I can only hope that they will develop personalities throughout the rest of the series.

The premise of the plot begins as an intriguing thing yet ends as a typical thing. Probably the best thing about the book is that it is not a typical end times plot. The rapture never occurs during the plot, yet the authors spend time building up background for the rest of the series such as an international currency and an international religion. This is something Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins did not do in the original Left Behind series, and it was something of necessity because end times novels were becoming predictable and boring. Who but the creator of the end times genre was a better person to add a new level to it?

Yet by the end of the book, the plot descends into an average pitfall, having the main characters racing against time to stop the villain from blowing up Joshua's son. The authors should not have introduced this to plot unless they were going to end it originally instead of typically and predictably. It seemed like they were using this as an avenue to waste time and save something for the second installment in the series.

Basically, the first installment in the End Series comes out average. We can only hope that the authors use the setting they have invented correctly and make this series memorable.

2.5 stars

Thicker Than Blood by C J Darlington

Christy Williams has been running from God and her family ever since her parents' funeral. She lives the life of a partier-smoking, drinking, and sleeping around. But she also lives the life of a book-lover, since she works in an antique bookstore. But ever since her rejecting the love of a coworker, he has been tormenting her and generally making her life miserable. All of this comes to a head one night when Christy returns to her apartment to find it a smoldering ruins. At this point, she has hit rock bottom. Yet knowing that her younger sister, May, has been trying to get in touch with her over years, Christy flees to the dairy farm May works on in order to reconcile with her. But little did she know that her sick lover would follow her there and seek her out...

CJ Darlington definitely deserved to win the 2009 Christian Writer's Guild Award, because a debut novel that began from the scribblings of a fifteen-year-old isn't going to get much better than this. As it was, CJ did much better than one would expect from such a meager beginning. However, inconsistent character development and a simple plot keep this book off the Elite List.

The character development is not consistent. Christy is the best character because she is basically the only imperfect one. None of the characters have personalities. May and her friends are dubbed the "good, hard-working Christians" while Vince is dubbed the "evil, sick criminal." Christy is the gray area between these two extremes, making her the best character. She makes good and bad choices, whereas the other characters can only make one or the other. CJ needs to beef up her characters in the future in order to increase her chance of writing an Elite book.

The plot is fairly simple and straightforward at the beginning with no subplots outside of the lives of the two sisters. These two plots combine after Christy's apartment burns down. Before the end, CJ indulges in much unneeded drama, having Christy get lost deep into the forest on a cold winter night with her murderous lover closing in. This makes it look like CJ wasn't creative enough to invent a better end, yet at the very end of the book, CJ does two unexpected things that cause the book's rating to rise. Yet the things CJ did in the body of the book can not be atoned for with an unexpected end.

All in all, one cannot expect much more from a debut novel. As long as CJ moves past this inexperienced stage in her career and does get stuck in the past of typical suspense, yet moves forward into the future of ambiguous plots, she will be a fine author indeed.

3 stars

Healing Waters by Stephen Arterburn and Nancy Rue

Lucia has lived her life condemning herself for her weight problems while serving and elevating her sister Sonia and her faith healing ministry. But her world is shattered the day Lucia witnesses Sonia's plane fall from the sky, leaving Sonia has the only survivor. A burned survivor. Her once-beautiful has been destroyed by the accident, and the doctors are skeptical as to whether it will ever heal. While trying to care for her sister, Lucia finds herself dealing with Sonia's "friends", her partners in ministry. She was already turned off to Christianity, and now she is even more so. But when Sonia develops a severe case of psychosis as a result of the accident, Lucia immerses herself into caring for Sonia's ignored six-year-old daughter. But Lucia is forced to face her own problems when offbeat psychologist\counselor Sullivan Crisp, a good friend of Sonia's, comes to her mansion to help out. She soon realizes needs his comfort and guidance, especially since someone is trying to kill someone in the mansion...

Once again, Stephen Arterburn and Nancy Rue have written a character based plot driven by super characters. Yet this plot is dragged down by its typical end, as is usually the case with the Sullivan Crisp series.

Lucia, Sonia, Sully, and all the other eccentric characters coming and going in Sonia's mansion are entertaining, imperfect, and realistic. It is one of the best casts of characters I have ever read. They create a strange situation that cannot be compared to any other plot. Sully remains to be the realistic therapist instead of the fatherly mentor he could have so easily become. Lucia is a good lead because while she could have been made into a victim because she helps people so much, the authors did not do this. She is a real person with real problems that the reader can relate to. Sonia is also one of the more interesting characters because it is interesting to watch her progression into insanity. However, it is not interesting to see her miraculously return from this insanity and become a repentant person.

This brings us to the book's biggest problem. While the body of the book is entertaining mostly because the situation is a bit off-the-wall, the end was where the rating started to fall. While the villain was surprising and intriguing, the authors twist things around so that Sonia turns into a victim rather than a lunatic. This is the product of a cheesy showdown scene with the villain, which of course, ends predictably. Healing Waters was definitely a fall from Healing Stones.

Yet this book was not all bad because of the situation the characters created. The Sullivan Crisp series is one of the best series on the market because it is consistently driven by good characters.

4 stars

Blood Bayou by Karen Young

Camille St. James is passionate about her work on the Truth Project-an organization dedicated to vindicating innocent criminals on death row. The project has just gotten the attention of the public because of the acquittal of an alleged murderer from Blood Bayou, the town where he ex-husband pastors a church. But a reporter drops a bomb at the press conference, saying that this same prisoner just murdered someone not twenty-four hours after his release. That someone is her ex-sister-in-law, her ex-husband's sister. Camille is stunned as the Truth Project is temporarily shut down and she is given an extended leave of absence. She uses this leave to travel to Blood Bayou and do a little investigating of her own, because she does not believe the accused murdered her ex-sister-in-law. There she once again faced her ex-husband as they are forced to work together against the odds on this seemingly impossible case.

On the surface, this plot looks like a very typical legal plot. In some ways, it is, and in some ways, it's not. Very well-crafted, imperfect characters cause this book to be better than your average legal thriller, yet Karen Young could have been a bit more creative with her plot development.

Camille, her ex-husband Jack, Camille's father and mother, and several other characters are all very good characters, complete with personalities and imperfection. In some ways, Jack is seen as a mentor character, but he is the correct kind of mentor characters because he is only that way because he has learned from some serious mistakes he has made in his past. Camille, despite her noble efforts to acquit the innocent, is not very innocent herself. I can't think of a single perfect character, which very much helps this book stand out from its legal thriller counterparts. Without this cast of characters, this book would have been comparable to The Great Divide.

It was inevitable that Camille's prize prisoner was going to be found innocent in the end, but I wish Karen had done the opposite. The book could have been five stars had she left the beaten path of legal fiction. It was also inevitable that Jack and Camille would rediscover their lost love, and again, Karen should have done the opposite. Yet there are still a few good plot elements such as two key character deaths at the end, one being more meaningful than the other because it was based on Jack's wrong choices. At the end, the reader does not know whether another key character died or not or whether Camille became a Christian. Karen obviously knows how to write original plots, so it doesn't make any sense why she only went halfway with this one.

Nevertheless, Karen Young did enough to write an Elite book. However, in the future, I hope she goes further with her original writing and writes that five star book within.

4 stars

April 2010 Poll Report

In the month of April, year 2010, we asked our readers who their favorite author was according to the choices. The results were slightly surprising:

1. Lisa Samson\Mary E DeMuth

2. Donita K Paul\Harry Kraus\Eric Wilson

Lisa Samson and Mary E DeMuth will both be advanced to the semifinals.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day of Reckoning by Kathy Herman

Two local girls from the simple town of Baxter are missing. Kidnapping is highly suspected, especially since one of the girls is the daughter of a well-to-do businessman in town whose outsourcing of his company to Costa Rica five years before cost many townspeople their jobs. The authorities suspect that someone laid off in the outsourcing is responsible for the crime at large, someone among their very lives. This causes the girls' families to pray like they never had before that they are alive. It also raises a question for newspaper reporter Ellen Jones-can bitterness drive someone to do something so desperate? But this question must be put on hold, for the killer has made it known that time is running out for the girls' very lives.

Once again, Kathy Herman has written a plot that stinks in the first half and shines in the second half. She has many original ideas, but she muddles them up with bad characters and cheesy dialogue. But still, she puts another one on the Elite List.

At first, the characters suffer from lack of personality or imperfection. The parents of the girls are highly typical and benevolent characters, and the villain is typical and cheesy. The biggest problem is Kathy Herman's definition of a "Christian" character. It dates back to the 90s idea of Christian fiction characters-benevolent people who do nothing but pray and care for others, never making a mistake or having a thought that isn't religious. I thought this notion was dropped at the turn of the century, but apparently Kathy hasn't been keeping her writing self-help books in date. This notion also applies to the villain-a cheesy mongrel who spouts typical lines about meddling. Yet in this instance, Kathy's inconsistency helps her in that the characters do not remain this way during the entire book. In the second half of the book, the characters actually become believable. This is where the book begins its redemption.

At first, the plot is sketchy, undetailed, and too fast-paced. Time goes by too fast and events occur rapidly. Yet again, in the second half of the book, the plot slows down and gains enough substance to be five stars, yet at this point it didn't matter. Kathy becomes more descriptive and starts doing odd things. Two key character deaths in quick succession turn the tide and put this book on the Elite List. The plot needed these deaths in order to make it realistic and believable. Besides this the villian becomes more believeable and nothing about the conclusion is perfect.

I continue to fail to understand Kathy Herman's haphazard writing style, yet as long as it keeps putting books on the Elite List, I really have nothing to complain about.

4 stars

Healing Stones by Stephen Arterburn and Nancy Rue

Demetria Costanas vowed to end her affair with Zach Archer that afternoon, but when she gave into temptation this one last time, this act of adultery was inexplicably caught on camera. Photo evidence of her sin forces her to resign from her job as professor at Covenant Christian College. What she did not know what that someone also sent a copy of the pictures to her husband, who has now all but thrown her out of the house. Her son hates her with a vengeance and her daughter is broken seemingly beyond repair. Desperate, Demetria turns to decidedly offbeat psychologist\counselor Sullivan Crisp for help in repairing her shattered life. Slowly, Demetria takes steps to winning her family back, until one day, a strange turn of events changes everything.

With firsthand experience in the counseling room, there is no better author to tell this story than Stephen Arterburn. Excellent character development goes hand in hand with a realistic and imperfect plot to help this book make its mark in the Hall of Five Stars.

Demetria, Zach, Demetria's family, Sullivan, and the other characters are all well crafted, complete with their own imperfections and personalities. This is a plot where no character is exempt from sin. There are no perfect mentor characters where Sully could be a candidate. The only battle between good and evil is within the hearts of the characters, not between any two characters. This is exquisite character development that should be found in every book.

An affair that the lead character is a part of is not an easy plot to write, especially if the author is tempted to give the "good" character an out or a lesser punishment. This is not done in Healing Stones. Where the pages could be filled with Demetria's gloom and dooms, they are filled with realistic, everyday life. Demetria lives her life while undergoing counseling. Sully lives his life while wondering if he could have prevented his wife's suicide. On top of all this, the end of the plot is the icing on the cake. A negative convenient connection connects a wrong choice close to home for Demetria. The extent of a key character's injuries is not fully explored, thus leaving unanswered questions, which is something all plots should have. In short, Stephen Arterburn and Nancy Rue have written a master plot.

The future is bright for budding author Stephen Arterburn as long as he continues down the track of originality.

5 stars

Monday, May 17, 2010

America the Beautiful by Laura Hayden

Emily Benton's goal and purpose in life is to become the first female president of the United States. She will do whatever she needs to do and whatever it takes to accomplish this feat-ethical or not. Kate Rosen is her campaign manager and future chief of staff who wants to be working along side her friend when she accomplishes her goal. Yet sometimes the world of politics causes Kate to compromise her Christian faith-something she does not share with the presidential candidate. Kate struggles daily with under-the-table dealings and mud-slinging at opposing candidates. She knows these things are necessary to win, yet she does not feel comfortable doing such. Emily's campaign threatens to become more confusing as her ex-husband shows up working with the opposing candidate saying he's found God. Only God knows what the future has in store for them next...

Laura Hayden has breached a subject few authors dare to breach these days-politics. Good characters keep the book from complete mediocrity, since the plot is incredibly straightforward, like a quest. There are no twists and turns that affect the main characters, thus keeping this book off the Elite List.

Kate and Emily are both good characters, complete with personalities and imperfection. There are also a handful of other characters that are developed equally well. Though there was the potential to be a cheesy women-hater villain, Laura Hayden thankfully decided against this notion. There is no real villain; Emily Benton is more of a villain than any of the other characters, even though she is never punished for it.

And that brings us to this books' major problem-the plot. Definitely not a good thing to have as your book's biggest problem. Even though it is a believable political journey, Emily Benton is the only immune candidate in the race. Though she digs up things about the other candidates' pasts to use against them, nothing from her past is used against her, thus making for a predictable plot. The plot points are marked by each time Emily took out a candidate with her dirt. While it is good to have such an imperfect character, people like this are not immune to trouble.

The end of the book is predictable, but then again, Laura Hayden has started a series with this book, one that could not begin without America the Beautiful's predictable end. In short, Laura painted herself into a corner. We can only hope that the rest of the series is better than this opening novel.

All in all, Laura Hayden has potential as an author as long as she learns from her mistakes and writes the ultimate political plot with the series' next installment.

3 stars

Friday, May 7, 2010

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

Coming Summer 2011...


Four hundred eighty years have passed since civilization's brush with extinction. Perfect order reigns. Humanity's greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no disease, no malice, no hate, no war. There is only peace.
Until the day when one man discovers the truth: Every single soul walking the earth is actually dead. The human heart has been stripped of all that makes it human. Now only he is alive and only he has the knowledge that can once again awaken humanity.
But the way is treacherous and the cost is staggering. For, indeed, in that day life itself is...Forbidden.


To tell you the truth, I am greatly intrigued by this idea. It sounds better than Immanuel's Veins and could even measure up to Thr3e. It's one of the better ideas I've heard from Ted. Tosca Lee will add an interesting flavor to it.
What concerns is that it is the first book in the Blood Books Trilogy. The series could digress as it progresses. One never knows. All we can do is wait and wonder what Ted will come up with this time.

Want more previews and further discussion of this book?
Visit http://s4.zetaboards.com/Original_Book_News/topic/8383338/1/

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker

FBI Special Agent Brad Gaines is working with criminal psychologist Nikki Holden on one of the most stunning cases of their careers. A serial killer has murdered four beautiful women by draining all their blood out and leaving them at the scene with a bridal veil. They are calling him the Bride Collector. Since they believe that the killer has psychosis or schizophrenia, they turn to a mental health center to try to find information on the diseases and to see if anyone there knows their killer. While visiting, they cross paths with a group of intelligent schizophrenics who claim they can help them solve the case. One woman in particular, named Paradise, steals Brad's heart at first sight. Now he's working side by side with her to try to catch the culprit. But little do they know that the Bride Collector is targeting one of them next. And it could happen any day now...

Ted Dekker has written his fair share of serial killer novels. Adam, Skin, Boneman's Daughters, Th3e, House, to name a few. The last book he needed to write was another serial killer novel-unless he had an innovative idea to share, like Thr3e. But since he did not do this, there was little reason to write such a book.

The character department was the best and worst thing about this book. The best thing is the mental cases-always an interesting cast of characters to have. Paradise and her companions are certainly entertaining and add a fresh element to the plot. The worst thing is Quinton Gauld, the Bride Collector himself. Ted Dekker has too much fun creating sick minds like Quinton and also spends way too much time focusing in on the sick ways of the Bride Collector. As "there was one thing he hated, nay, two things he loathed" littered the pages of Boneman's Daughters, Ted invented a new catch phrase for Quinton. Brad and Nikki are interesting enough characters, yet they lack personality.

The worst thing about the book, besides Quinton, is the plot itself. Ted has become too methodical at his serial killer plots, because they are all the same. There are many typical elements, such as a showdown and several convenient connections. There is one unexpected key character death that adds flavor, yet it is a diamond among the rocky crags.

The good thing about Ted Dekker is that unlike other authors of his popularity level, he knows how to be original and adds some original elements to all of his books, they just sometimes get outweighed by unoriginal elements. The release of Immanuel's Veins this fall will indicate whether he is still on the right track.

3 stars

Greater Love by Robert Whitlow

Tami Taylor's life has only become more complicated as she gets closer and closer to becoming a full-time lawyer. With her heart torn between two different men, passing the bar exam looks like a cinch. After passing it, she joins a firm of other female lawyers along with her ever-present friend Julie. There she takes on her first real case-representing a tight-lipped teenage girl the police found robbing someone's house for food. The girl has a secret, one she is not willing to disclose to Tami or anyone else. While she misses her family from Savannah and takes care of the elderly Mrs. Fairmont, she looks to Sister Dabney for hope from God. But when her client disappears while out on bond, the reputation is on the line. With so many things going wrong, it takes greater love to change things for the better.

As I expected, the last book in the Tides of Truth series is the worst. In order to please the public who gave him bad reviews for not including any interesting legal cases in the first two books of this series, Robert Whitlow wrote a typical court case to appease them. While the characters stay the same as before, the plot keeps this book from being five stars.

Tami and Julie remain to be the good characters they were in the first two books, as do Tami's parents and twin sisters. Mrs. Fairmont and Mrs. Bartlett remain the same. Vince is virtually nonexistent throughout the plot, and Zach has become a perfect character. Robert Whitlow has demonstrated throughout this series that he can craft good characters, much in contrast with his earlier books.

The family structure and life of the Taylors has been the focal point of the series, causing it to stand out from other legal series. This situation still existed in Greater Love. Had Robert removed this, the book would have been worse than it ended up. There were many things I expected Robert to do with this final installment of the series, most of which he fulfilled, much to my dismay. The thing I expected the most was for Tami to marry Zach so that this romantic subplot could not completely avoid kissing. This happened, of course. It would have been more interesting if Tami had married Vince or nobody since everything was already leaning toward Zach.

Another problem with the plot is the court case. In this book, Robert spent less time with Tami's family than he did in the first two books. This caused the first two books to thrive, and since Robert returned to a full-fledged court case, things got ugly. The biggest problem with the case, besides its being completely typical and predictable, is that Robert contradicted himself. In Deeper Water, he explored the issue of characters making too much out of a simple situation. In Greater Love, Tami speculates once again about something improbable, only this time, she was right.

At least there was a key character death at the end of the book to make things interesting. Yet there are too many other factors that keep this book from being five stars.

4 stars

Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell

Frederique Farmer was widowed young while she and her husband were on an extended stay in France. So she did what any young widow would do in a foreign country-she bought an old chateau with the intention of becoming a recluse. But things went just the opposite way she intended them to go. When she finds a box of ancient journals written by a girl named Alix, who lived in the Middle Ages, word gets out, and an American author named Robert Cranwell decides he's going to come stay at her chateau while writing a novel about the journals. Freddie does not like the idea of this, yet he comes anyway and seems to do everything possible to drive her crazy. As they together discover the story contained within the journals, their defenses break down when they find that they have a lot in common with the ancient story. Yet they are still unwilling to put aside their differences and let love grow. And it's only a matter of time before Robert leaves...

Despite this seemingly typical plot idea, there are many non typical things about Chateau of Echoes. However, one thing in particular keeps the book from being all it could have been.

Siri Mitchell is a master at characters, period. Frederique and Robert are both imperfect. It's refreshing not to have a perfect male lead in the typical I-hate-you-then-I-love-you relationship. At least through their incompatible personalities, Siri can justify their love-hate relationship. Alix is also an imperfect character, even though she is at first portrayed as a victim. There is nothing wrong with the character department in this book.

Chateau of Echoes

is a past\present plot, which means it alternates between two different plots; one in the past and one in the present. Thankfully, Freddie has no convenient connection to the past she reads about in the journals, and neither does Robert. They are isolated plots, which is the way all past\present plots should be unless the author can invent a very good reason for them to be connected.

The ends to both plots are vastly different. The end to the past plot is realistic, imperfect, and ambiguous. The end to the present plot is unrealistic, mostly perfect, and predictable. The end to Alix's plot is very interesting because it is based on the choices of imperfect characters. The end to Freddie's plot could have definitely been better, yet there is one good aspect.

All in all, Chateau of Echoes barely missed the five star mark because of the present plot. Yet I expect Siri Mitchell to do great things in the future.

4.5 stars

Thin Air by Bette Nordberg

Beth Cheng is a respected wildlife biologist who has left her husband and three children behind in order to examine wildlife on a certain mountain. None of her training prepares her for her plane to crash on the mountain, leaving the pilot and her fellow biologist dead. She suffers severe injuries from the crash yet manages push through and salvage what she can from the wreck. But she is definitely not prepared when blizzard conditions come upon the mountain, bringing arctic-cold air. This blizzard keeps the rescue teams from finding her as soon as they would've without it and force her to fend for herself in the wild. But there is something she does not know-she is not alone on the mountain. Someone is watching her every move. That someone wants her dead. Beth must brave the thin air in order to see those she loves again.

Bette Nordberg knows how to write an interesting plot and how to develop imperfect characters. Unfortunately, a survival plot is not the best plot an author can write. Not many authors can write such a plot the correct way because it can easily be ruined. In some ways, she handled the plot correctly, and in some ways she did not. In the end, the book is average at best.

Characters have always been a problem for Bette Nordberg. While she knows how to craft imperfect characters, she does not go any further than that. All the characters lack personality and therefore do not seem real. Characters with personalities would have done wonders for this book. In a nearly impossible plot like this one, good characters would have helped it get onto the Elite List.

The best thing Bette did with the plot was write in the two expendable character deaths at the beginning. There is a lot of realistic peril throughout the plot, yet there is a lot of unrealistic rescues. There are few too many hear death experiences as well. The person on the mountain with her is based on a realistic idea. Thank God it was not some serial killer or terrorist.

There is nothing truly wrong with Beth being found alive, the problem comes in when Bette goes to extra lengths to fix extracurricular things. There were a handful of unfixed issues that she had no business meddling in. If anything is the biggest downfall of this book, it is this end. The book could have been better without such useless meddling.

It seems as though Bette Nordberg has deteriorated as an author since Serenity Bay. I can only hope that she returns to the trend she started with her debut novel. She has a lot of potential as an author; she is simply not using it correctly.

2.5 stars

Pacific Hope by Bette Nordberg

The twenty-six year marriage of Kate and Mike Langston hangs in the balance for the first time all because of a choice Mike made to be unfaithful to Kate. All Kate ever wanted was to grow old and happy with Mike at this empty-nest stage of life. When Kate and Mike each receive a separate package containing incriminating pictures of Mike and another woman, the secret is out, and their marriage will never be the same again. In an attempt to save his sinking marriage, Mike begs Kate to accompany him on a four-week Pacific voyage on a yacht in order to deliver it to friends in Hawaii. The last thing Kate wants to do is to spend a month with the man she now hates, yet gentle prodding from God and friends cause her to reluctantly agree. But what's ahead for Mike and Kate no one could have predicted. Wild seas, boat damage, and serious injury are only the beginning. If they can weather the physical storms, perhaps their marriage has a second chance...

Once again, Bette Nordberg crafts an intriguing plot based on imperfect characters and their choices. Yet, once again, she makes the same mistakes she made in Thin Air by going the extra mile to fix things she had no business meddling with. It is a surprise to think that from this same author came Serenity Bay.

As usual, the characters are imperfect without personalities. One can hardly write a plot like this without imperfect characters. The good thing is that Kate is not portrayed as a perfect victim, but rather makes imperfect choices of her own. The plot lacks perfect mentor characters where there could have very well been a few. Bette almost has her characters down.

In some ways, it is almost pointless to write such a plot because of the way it must end. If this type of plot ends imperfectly, there is almost no point in writing it. The best thing an author can do with this type of plot is showcase the imperfect choices of the characters. Bette did this at first, as is her custom in her usual strong beginnings. This trend dwindled by the time the plot was nearing an end and quickly descended into chaos. In the end, Bette had fixed things she had no business tampering with. Yet it went further than that-the things she fixed negated all of Mike's wrong choices and made him look like an innocent victim. This greatly angered me because it caused the entire plot to become useless. The reader learns nothing from this because it teaches that one's wrong choice can simply be blamed on someone else. While Bette tried to make this fact untrue, it did not matter; the damage was done.

Basically, the only good things about this book are the imperfect characters and their choices. Bette has perhaps reached the lowest point in her career with this book because she refuses to leave well enough alone. Whether or not she will pull out of this nose dive it up to her alone.

2 stars