Beauty Within by Rachel Skatvold

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.
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Beauty Within by Rachel Skatvold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

After the death of her husband, Katherine returns to her hometown to start over. She wants to raise her two children in peace, but her mother butting in to play matchmaker and the presence of her troubled teenaged sister aren’t exactly helping. As rumors about her family spread through town, Katherine wonders if she should have returned home at all in Beauty Within, a romantic suspense tale by author Rachel Skatvold.

This novella was a good read in between reads for me: a story of new beginnings–and of tragedy as well, but it still served as a needed picker-upper. I didn’t plan on reading it when I did, but once I got started, the key characters’ predicaments got me curious, and I simply had to keep going.

I thought the story to be rushed in spots; the characters seem to hurry through certain conversations and emotions. Also, the development of evangelistic content in the story felt clichéd to me. As a longtime reader of Christian Fiction, I’ve seen it in a number of books, where dialogue or scenes seem to follow a prescribed pattern, fitting in the “right” or common Christian lingo. But those scenes wind up reading more like a Gospel tract or a new believer’s handbook than a novel or novella, and it pulls me out of the story.

Nevertheless, this quick read should appeal to other fans of sweet and uplifting romances with suspense.

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Beauty Within is Book One in the Riley Family Legacy series.

Beauty Unveiled (Riley Family Legacy Novellas #2) Beauty Restored (Riley Family Legacy Novellas #3)

Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

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. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
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Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

If the God of the universe couldn’t be bothered by what happened to one young man who died an unseen death, how could she matter? Either everyone mattered or nobody did…
It was in the process of uncovering the heart of a person’s story that a case came to life.

A wrongful death case against the US government could either advance or ruin Hayden’s career as an attorney. And with this case on her hands, it doesn’t seem like the best time for her to be meeting Andrew, the son of a US congressman. As the implications of the case become increasingly ominous, Hayden may have to choose between pursuing justice and saving her own life in Beyond Justice, a novel by author Cara Putman.

Reading the introductory novella of this series, Dying for Love, put me in anticipation of reading this legal/romantic suspense novel. It addresses the issue of illegal immigration in the US and has a clear message of the value of human life, as well as a rather mild romance and a strong faith thread woven through the book.

While I appreciated the novel’s message, the overall story didn’t really grip me. My interest waned in several places, and sometimes I felt the contemplative parts were overdoing it. The characters’ (particularly Hayden’s) thoughts seemed to belabor certain points, ask the same questions, or ask questions that were too obvious. And though the main characters were likable, they didn’t have that extra “oomph” to me, something key that would have me especially intrigued or impressed.

Still, I’ve little doubt that this faith-filled romantic suspense tale will be right up the alley of a number of ChristFic readers.

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Here’s my review of Dying for Love, the introduction to the Hidden Justice series.

  

Dying for Love by Cara Putman

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. I received a complimentary copy of this book, for which I’ve given an honest review.
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Dying for Love by Cara Putman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

“Anything of value is worth a fight.”

Ciara Turner and David Evans once failed to make a go of their personal relationship, since their attorney roles often put them on opposing sides of family cases. But when they discover a judge they both admire has been murdered, they’ll have to work together on the investigation in Dying for Love by author Cara Putman.

Hmm. Kinda did a double-take there, as the official book blurb keeps mentioning “Daniel.” The character’s name is David.

Anyhow, I wanted to read this novella before reading the first novel in the Hidden Justice romantic suspense series. Or is it a legal thriller series? Well, I’m a fan of both!

While I would’ve liked to get a more convincing sense of the guilty party’s motive here, why this particular culprit had taken so drastic a step as murder, I think I was into the suspense side of the story more than the romantic one. I found the romance tricky to follow emotionally, but it also seemed redundant in places, with some thoughts and doubts being rehashed a time or two more than was needed.

Still, the story has put me in anticipation to continue this romantic-suspense-legal-thriller series, which I’ll be doing soon.

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Here’s my review of the first novel in the Hidden Justice series, Beyond Justice.

  

Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll

suspense-books nadine keels

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. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to write a review.
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Four Silver Stars

Weaver's NeedleWeaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

A well-off widow recruits two recovery specialists, Landry and Nickolai, pitting them against each other to earn a substantial fee to recover a stolen map. While searching for the coveted map to a hidden and legendary gold mine, Landry and Nickolai may be growing too close for comfort–especially when the search could have deadly consequences in Weaver’s Needle, a novel by author Robin Caroll.

This novel’s cover is what most drew me to the story. The cover has a sense of adventure and danger, but it isn’t dark. You can almost feel the blaze of the dry and scorching sun in the bold and vivid design that screams “romantic suspense.”

Overall, I found this adventure entertaining. The plot kept me curious, and Landry and Nickolai each have crucial, believable reasons for wanting to earn the recovery fee they’re competing for.

Now, I thought some of the romantic thoughts and feelings in the story didn’t quite ring true. It seems to me that unless he or she is completely inexperienced, a grown man or woman wouldn’t be super shocked or confused by a growing attraction to someone attractive, particularly when the two are working closely together. Also, I’ve never really been keen on the “I can’t be with him/her because he/she isn’t a Christian” theme in novels, as it tends to muddy the characters’ faith/romantic motives to me. And, interesting as it was, I almost felt a little let down by the story’s ending.

Still, many fellow fans of Christian romantic suspense should enjoy this novel, and I wouldn’t mind reading this new-to-me author again.