Istanbul Express by T. Davis Bunn

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.

Istanbul Express by T. Davis Bunn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

World War II is behind them, but now an ominous Iron Curtain is descending in Europe. American Jake Burnes, Frenchman Pierre Servais, and their two wives travel to Turkey to help set a defense against Communist expansion in Istanbul Express, a novel by author T. Davis Bunn.

I’ve enjoyed the Rendezvous with Destiny series, especially the first novel, Rhineland Inheritance. It was a pleasure to see the four main characters teamed up in this conclusion, and I gained a new favorite, an older character by the name of Phyllis. She brings some refreshing moments to the story, including a fair share of its humor.

While I’d say the suspense and tension in this historical series is on the low-key side in general, I imagined the series might still go out with more of a bang, especially considering some of the high moments in the first four books and the intriguing setup at the end of Berlin Encounter.

However, in this last story, I found the tension and mood so low-key and the pace so sedate that my interest wandered a few times through it, and I never got deeply engrossed in it. More than past the halfway point, I was still waiting for things to pick up, and the ending doesn’t bring the series to a satisfying close so much as the story just seems to choose a place to stop, having nowhere else to go.

I also wondered about the number of punctuation errors in the edition I read (Books 4 and 5 combined in a hardback) and places where the recurring lack of conjunctions feels more awkward than stylish, as if the wording wasn’t given a final polish.

But overall, I got what I was looking for when I decided to read some new-to-me books from the ’90s by one of my longtime favorite authors.

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Here’s my review of Book One in the Rendezvous with Destiny series, Rhineland Inheritance.

   

 

Midnight is My Time by Mike Dellosso

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. Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Midnight is My Time by Mike Dellosso

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Horrendous circumstances have made an outcast out of Andy, who’s been traveling solo through this post-apocalyptic world. But he’s no longer alone after he meets Missy, a blind woman with an inexplicable gift in Midnight is My Time, a novel by author Mike Dellosso.

I’ve read ChristFic novels about end times before, and while some aspects of this story were pretty predictable to me, it turned out not to be something I would’ve expected on the whole. It uses a couple of theological elements in ways I haven’t seen before in fiction.

Now, dangerous setups feel contrived to me when they hinge on someone walking into a situation that doesn’t make the most sense for the character, which happens a time or two here. I also think some repetitiveness, unsurprising minor villains, and places where the narrator states the obvious dulls some moments that could’ve been sharper.

My interest waned through a few slower parts, and though the main characters aren’t supposed to know their purpose for some time, I’m not sure the story ever makes the point of their purpose too clear. Perhaps the full significance is dependent on the reader’s prior biblical knowledge, or there may be a sequel coming.

In any case, I think the read does get stronger as it goes along, and I really liked the messages about memories that haunt us and pivotal choices we make about ourselves. This was my first time reading this author, and I plan to do so again.

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Note to my blog readers: not out of keeping with the subject matter, this novel contains some moments of gruesome violence.

 

Against All Odds by Becca Hart

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

Against All Odds by Becca Hart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Self-defense once required Elizabeth, a widowed mother, to shoot a man. Now the man’s sister is bent on revenge. For protection, Elizabeth accepts help from a family friend, Gilbert, a widower with children of his own. But harmony between their families, and safety for their lives, isn’t easy to come by in Against All Odds, a novel by author Becca Hart.

Though it takes a little while before it has a prominent place in the story, the romance in this novel does come to find its groove. It’s well-paced and develops naturally, in a way befitting two middle-aged parents who are still coping with the deaths of their former spouses. The novel addresses some tough and complex issues while danger is continually lurking, but it manages not to be a depressing story, and the characters keep their sense of humor. Plus, on a fun note, I enjoy the rare occurrence of seeing a romantic hero or heroine who wears glasses!

In a number of places in the book, I found the style and phrasing to be a bit too basic, and sometimes rather predictable or redundant. There are repeated references to Elizabeth having romantic chills and various mentions of Gilbert’s crow’s feet and smoldering eyes. Elizabeth’s perspective and prayers also have a lot of repetition through the novel, as she wonders or questions what’s “happening” and why or how God could let something “happen,” time and time again.

Still, fans of ChristFic romance who can appreciate some high stakes and family life may want to check out this story of faith, love, and overcoming fear.

 

High Treason by DiAnn Mills

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

High Treason by DiAnn Mills

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Monica Alden, a CIA operative, is brought onto an FBI task force with Special Agent Kord Davidson after an assassination attempt on Kord’s friend, a Saudi prince. Having come to Houston, Texas to seek cancer treatment for his mother, the prince can’t pick up and leave the country, but the extent of his real plans in the US makes his FBI protection all the more crucial in High Treason, a novel by author DiAnn Mills.

With this book, I knew I’d have to settle in for a read that would take me a while. But as I’ve come to find with this author so far, no matter how long or short the read, there’s not a dull moment in it for me. Whether it’s high-stakes action, the thick of investigation, or engaging inward and outward dialogue as characters deal with their personal challenges and forge various relationships, I’m kept on my toes from start to finish.

I’m all for a heroine like Monica: sharp, no-nonsense, gutsy, and driven, but with a sense of humor, compassion, and a vulnerable side. I also appreciate that her inner conflict has complexity to it, that it’s not just a token pain or a too-easy source for angst or drama.

And Kord is rather sharp himself. While I’m pretty sure the “missionary setup” will never be my preferred scenario for ChristFic romance (it tends to muddy up the couple’s motives and makes the inevitable conversion feel trite, contrived, or both), I do like that the romance here isn’t instantaneous or dripping with sap. The characters’ tenderness doesn’t make them lose their edge but rather enhances it.

Since this is only the third book I’ve read by Mills, it may be too soon to say she’s my favorite romantic suspense author. Even so, I’m kind of scratching my head as to why I haven’t read more of her books by now.

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I started the FBI Task Force series with a novella, Trial By Fire.