The Stronghold by Lisa Carter

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Stronghold by Lisa Cox Carter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Teenaged girls have been disappearing from Apache reservations—a danger that hits far too close to home for tribal cop Pilar To-Clanny. She’ll have to go after a ruthless killer. And she’s not looking forward to partnering with a painful part of her past, in the form of Special Agent Alex Torres in The Stronghold by author Lisa Carter.

This book was anything but easy reading for me. Quite frankly, I needed a story that could connect with a singular area of my anger, much of it in relation to issues in real life that this romantic suspense novel tackles.

Indeed, it’s a heavy read that braves rough and dark terrain. Poverty. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Self-harm. Manipulation. Racism. Rape, and a culture of sexual violence. Serial murder. FEAR. It’s not a story to be read for thrills but for its illustration of dynamic light cutting through grave darkness.

Now, I often say I don’t have to think a book is perfect to find it amazing. Some of the digs, arguments, and characters’ reactions become redundant in this book, and action beats in the dialogue fall into predictable patterns at times. Many of the paragraph breaks are jarring and unnecessary when the dialogue isn’t switching between speakers. I wouldn’t have forgotten that Alex is good-looking and Pilar is Apache even if those points weren’t repeated so often. And a few matters at the height of the novel play out in ways that aren’t entirely convincing.

Still, this author writes with depth, realism, and flashes of pithy lyricism, weaving an intricate plot that pierces so that it can heal. ChristFic fans who appreciate gritty and relevant stories of faith would do well to check this one out.


Note to my blog readers: this novel contains some moments of gruesome violence and a bit of innuendo. While the crimes of rape and violence toward minors take place “off screen,” related references and resulting effects on the characters could be triggers for certain readers.


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