Category: Romantic Suspense

Book Review: The Heart of a Hero by Susan May Warren

“The Way of the Brave” by Susan May Warren is a wonderful, suspenseful, action-packed Christian romance. The main focus of the book is the story of Aria and Jake, who we first met in the previous book as side characters. (Note: Although I read and enjoyed the first book, I think this one works just fine as a stand-alone. Enough information is provided to fill the reader in on how Jake and Aria met, and what happened to them.)

The romance is excellent. Both Aria and Jake are well-developed characters with defined personalities and unique flaws. The reader can get to know them separately, and enjoy following along as they spend time together, grow closer, encounter obstacles, and respond to them. Both stay true-to-character, never doing anything that doesn’t make sense based on what we know about them.

There is plenty of dialog between the main characters, and it’s easy to see how and why the two come to care for each other. The dire circumstances they face together serve as another uniting factor.

The storyline beyond the romance is fabulous as well! Even though we begin the story at a nice family picnic, danger and adventure are never far away for these characters. Aria quickly finds herself alone and trapped in the middle of a major hurricane, and Jake is off to the rescue. Brace yourself for plenty of action as one dangerous situation follows another.

Having lived in Florida for a few years, I can say the author definitely did her research. Everything about the effects of the hurricane making landfall is accurate, as are the depictions of certain people who refuse to evacuate no matter what. I appreciated this attention to detail, and commend the author for getting everything just right.

The faith-based part of the story is more subtle here than it was in book 1, but it’s definitely present, primarily through the character of Mimi, who always has just the right spiritual insight to share with the others.

One final note: there is a small side-plot involving Ham from book 1 heading off to research something that started in the earlier volume. Just enough information is included about this to set up the next volume in the series, and I have to say I can’t wait to see how everything is resolved!

All if all, five out of five slices of yummy pepper-jack!

Book Review: The Way of the Brave by Susan May Warren

“The Way of the Brave” by Susan May Warren is a wonderful, suspenseful, action-packed Christian romance. The main focus of the book is the story of Jenny and Orion, who first met in Afghanistan, but have been separated and pining for each other ever since. They reconnect when Jenny and her friends run into potentially fatal trouble while climbing Denali.

My favorite aspects of this book:

1. The ice-climbing information: The author clearly knows a LOT about climbing preparation, techniques, and equipment. She makes it very clear that this is a serious sport, not just a pleasant outing for someone who’s taken a “how to climb” class at the local gym. I appreciated that everybody who ventured onto the mountain was portrayed as someone who had trained and prepared diligently, and taken every precaution to insure a safe trip. I’m not a climber myself, but everything I read about sounded very accurate and believable.

2. The descriptions of Denali: These were very clear and detailed, and I could truly envision the beauty and majesty of the area as I read. Since I doubt I’ll get any closer than viewing photographs of this amazing place, I enjoyed getting to see it through the eyes of the characters.

3. The main romance: Jenny and Orion’s story was especially intriguing because they had fallen in love (although neither admitted it) when they first met years ago. Tragedy separated them, and neither expected to reunite. As the two are forced into close quarters (and near-death experiences) on the mountain, they spend a lot of time talking through their feelings and past baggage, making their eventual connection feel very real, and well-deserved.

4. The side-stories: Jenny’s two climbing friends both have interesting stories of their own. At least one (Aria’s) will likely be explored further in a future book in this series. The story of Orion’s friend Hamilton (Ham) intervening in an assassination attempt also adds excitement to the story.

5. The spiritual aspect: I thought this was particularly well done in this book. Both Jenny and Orion have some religious background, and both have pulled away from their faith because of things that happened to them. Luckily, both are surrounded by strong Christian friends, who consistently talk to them and influence them without becoming “preachy”. Some of Ham’s wisdom, in particular, has stayed with me, and I’ve made notes of a couple of his quotes for future reference.

All if all, five out of five slices of my favorite provolone!

Book Review: Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason

“Collateral Damage” by Lynette Eason is the first book in her new “Danger Never Sleeps” series, and I have to say that I am thrilled to have discovered it. The action rarely stops, and when it does, the reader needs the break almost as much as the characters!

This is a Christian Romantic Suspense title, and it lives up to the genre in all three senses of the phrase. The two main characters are Christians, as evidenced by the way they often say a quick silent prayer when they find themselves in dangerous situations. One character in particular regularly prays for the safety of the other. Both characters provide great role models for living out your faith in your everyday life, especially if yours is a dangerous one.

The romance is also nicely done. The two main characters had known each other during their military service, and reconnected once both are back in the United States. Of course, their meeting up again occurs at exactly the same time that all of the dangerous stuff starts happening, so they are thrown together much more often (and for much longer) than they would have been in the normal course of events.

Another reason that this book stands out for me is the dialog. Brooke and Asher actually talk to each other… a lot! The reader can easily understand how the attraction between them grows, as we see them really getting to know on another in the midst of the danger.

As for the suspense part of the story….it’s excellent! The storyline starts with something that happened in Afghanistan and affected both characters. It continues as the bad guys move to cover up their nefarious activity by eliminating threats to their secrets. There is never a dull moment, and the reader is taken along on a crazy thrill ride along with Brooke and Asher. On a related note, the action is always logical, and feels like it could actually happen in real life. Asher, in particular, is very resourceful, but never pulls off any feats of strength or MacGyver-like creativity that left me doubting a real person could actually manage them.

Basically, I enjoyed every aspect of this story. It has plenty of believable action, plenty of prelude to the characters falling in love, and just the right amount of Christian content. All in all, I highly recommend this book!

Five out of five ultra-fine slices of the best ultra-sharp cheddar!

Book Review: Dark Ambitions by Irene Hannon

First things first….”Dark Ambitions” by Irene Hannon is book 3 in the “Men of Valor” series. I had not read either of the first two books, and had no problem jumping right in with this one. The author does a fabulous job of catching the reader up on everything you need to know without making you feel overwhelmed or confused.

Now, on to the substance of this book itself. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed “Dark Ambitions”. This is a Christian Romantic Suspense title, and it lives up to the genre in all three senses of the phrase. The two main characters are clearly Christians, and live their lives as such. However, they never come across as preachy in any way. They are just good people, living out what they believe. As such, both characters provide great role models for living out your faith in your everyday life.

Of course, there is a budding romance between the two, and it is written beautifully. I cannot express how much I appreciate the author writing a clean, believable, honest, trope-free romance between two people who are obviously meant for each other. There are no silly misunderstandings, no overhearing-something-and-misinterpreting plotlines, no hate-at-first-sight-leads-to-love unrealistic changes of mind. Two people meet, like each other, get to know each other, and fall in love. So refreshing!

As for the suspense part of the story….it’s excellent! What starts out as a simple missing persons case quickly grows into so much more. Multiple murders, old overseas crimes, stalking, and more all add to the complexity of the investigation without leaving the reader feeling overwhelmed. I was able to guess part of the end result, but part of it surprised me (which is always a good thing). To me this is optimal…it means the reader has been given enough clues to figure out part of the mystery, but the author still has a couple of surprises up her sleeve.

On a final note, the epilogue was lovely! I enjoyed learning more about what happened to Heather and Rick after the main story ended.

All in all, I highly recommend “Dark Ambitions”. It is the perfect mix of romance and suspense, with just the write tone of Christian undercurrent.

Five out of five chunks of nice, creamy Camembert!