Necessary Proof by Camy Tang

Suspense Book

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.

3 Stars

Light orange book cover shows the serious hero and heroine facing in opposite directionsNecessary Proof by Camy Tang

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alex has gone after a meth-producing gang, and now he’s being framed for the death of a cop. The evidence on an encrypted laptop can prove his innocence, but he’ll need the help of a software engineer, Jane, before the gang can take back the laptop—and possibly take Alex’s and Jane’s lives in the process—in Necessary Proof by author Camy Tang.

Nope, I haven’t read any of the other books in this ChristFic romantic suspense series. Though there was some background that might have made more sense and some names mentioned I might have cared about if I’d read some of the preceding books, the main story here made quite enough sense on its own for me to appreciate it.

While some of the events and emotional development felt rushed, I found the story intriguing, with a fitting mix of dialogue and action, and a journey of faith runs through it. An enjoyable way to spend a relatively short amount of time.

Sonoma Series

Go to Nadine's Books of Hope and Inspiration

Making Isaac Hunt by Linda Leigh Hargrove

Suspense Book

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.

4 Stars

Book cover shows a serious light-skinned African American man with blue eyes above a flat southern landscape with treesMaking Isaac Hunt by Linda Leigh Hargrove

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description: At his grandfather’s deathbed, Isaac Hunt learns his parents aren’t really his parents. Reeling from betrayal and armed with only his birth mother’s name and the city where she last lived, Isaac goes in search of her and the truth about his past. His odyssey takes him deep into the south, where racism still rules the small town of his birth—and where more than one person does not want Isaac to uncover the truth about who he is.

My thoughts: While I’ve read romance novellas by Hargrove before, it was someone else’s inquiry about ChristFic suspense from diverse authors that prompted me to finally start the Isaac Hunt series.

This novel isn’t suspense in the sense of fast pacing or high action. Most of the story is rather contemplative, taking its time much like a literary novel. But the dark crime thread running through it does eventually reach a critical point for Isaac.

I don’t always get through books that take longer than about two chapters to give me more than a cursory sense of what’s going on and exactly why it matters. Although I felt like this novel spent a fairly significant amount of time speaking in riddles, something simmering, sometimes rumbling, just beneath the surface compelled me to keep reading. That and this author’s way with words, as I really like sharp phrasing and stirring descriptions that aren’t predictable for me.

There’s a scene where one of the villains sits and monologues to himself for a while, which can feel like a contrived way to reveal information to the reader. But that aside, this story’s evil characters aren’t caricatures. As for the emotion through the read, though I think the effect of Isaac’s tears could have been stronger if he had them in fewer scenes, I found the overall emotional development to be compelling.

I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

Note to my blog readers: While I read an earlier edition of this book where the N-word doesn’t appear, in the latest edition, the author includes a heads-up about her use of the slur. I understand various Black writers’ choices about whether or not they use the word in their works, and Hargrove also touched on the issue in her guest post on my blog some years ago.

Isaac Hunt Series

Go to Nadine's Books of Hope and Inspiration

The Sound of Light by Sarah Sundin

Historical Fiction

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. Revell provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

3 Stars

Book cover shows a blond-haired woman walking toward an empty seaside boat, while World War II era planes pass by in the cloudy skyThe Sound of Light by Sarah Sundin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description: When the Germans march into Denmark, Baron Henrik Ahlefeldt assumes a façade, exchanging his nobility for anonymity so that he can secretly row messages for the Danish Resistance across the waters to Sweden. American physicist Dr. Else Jensen refuses to leave Copenhagen and abandon her research, her life’s dream. While printing resistance newspapers, she hears stories of the movement’s legendary Havmand—the merman—and wonders if the mysterious and silent shipyard worker living in the same boardinghouse has something to hide.

My thoughts: While this historical ChristFic novel is a standalone, I was unsurprised but pleased to run into its tie to two previous WWII novels by this author, including my favorite of hers, When Twilight Breaks. I also really liked how Henrik and Else each have to wrestle with the question of silence in regard to either courage or cowardice.

On the whole, most of this read was fairly slow for me, but the overall plot is well-woven. I’ll admit I couldn’t fully connect with the romance, given that, due to Henrik’s façade, Else spends much of the time falling for her idea of a man she doesn’t know that well, making certain incorrect assumptions about him in her imagination. When she later has to make significant mental adjustments about him, it happens so fast on the page. I also couldn’t fully appreciate Henrik as such a “changed” character because the story only shows him after his major change from the past. It’s almost as if he’s had a before-and-after makeover, and you see his “after” results, but you only hear about what he must have looked like “before.”

Also, given the private or underground nature of so many people’s wartime activities, Henrik’s own share of covert work he’s been doing for over three years, and all of the coded messages involved, I found it unconvincing that at a particular, critical meeting, Henrik wouldn’t realize when someone’s strange, repeated words to him are coded language.

Nevertheless, I didn’t leave the story feeling unmoved. A crucial parent/child relationship in the book is what touched me the most.

Go to Nadine's Books of Hope and Inspiration

Nadia by Susan K. Downs and Susan May Warren

Historical Fiction

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.

3 Stars

For December, I’m posting a variety of books that have given me a nostalgic feel…

Book cover shows a long-haired, wary woman in 1970s clothing and jewelry in the foreground, and a Russian statue on a wall in the backgroundNadia by Susan K. Downs and Susan May Warren

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description: Former CIA spy Nadia “Hope” Moore must sneak behind the Iron Curtain, spring her estranged husband from a Russian gulag, and prove to the CIA that Mickey Moore isn’t a traitor—at least, not to his country.

My thoughts, starting with a disclaimer: As historical fiction often has a stronger pull on me than contemporary, I’ll admit the familiar pull pulled me right past the first (present-day) Heirs of Anton book to read Book Two instead, which takes place in the 1970s. But if I really feel I’m missing something after I’ve finished the three historical novels in this ChristFic series, I’ll go back (but ahead in time in the saga) and read Book One last.

Now! The original cover of Nadia and my strong liking for a few other historical fiction books by Susan May Warren drew me to this novel, which I later realized she originally published in co-authorship with Susan K. Downs. I was hoping to find this Cold War romantic suspense story to be engrossing, and for the most part, I did.

But the read took somewhat longer than I prefer to paint a pretty clear picture of what’s going on. (I usually like to be clear about the basis of the characters’ situation and why it matters within my first fifteen minutes or so of reading, or it’s hard for me to get invested.) I can’t say the faith messages were my favorite overall; I found the “hope” theme, while relevant, to be overused/repetitive; and Nadia and Mickey frustrated me by going back and forth mentally and emotionally, changing their minds about being together (or not) over and over again.

Even so, the two of them and their married-couple relationship moved me in other ways too. Good ways. And as the twists of intrigue and danger ramped up, I was all in.

There’s certainly plenty of family intrigue open for answers in the following books. And again, if I still have pressing questions after I read them, I’ll go back (but forward!) and check out the first book.

Note: Most recently, Nadia was republished with the title The Spy Who Loved Me.

Heirs of Anton Series

Go to Nadine's Holiday Books