Sunday, November 17, 2019

Christian Romantic Suspense "Perfect Storm" Just Not For Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Fourteen years ago, the secret relationship between a preacher's daughter and the son of the town drunk was discovered, setting off a conflict that ended with one father killing the other.  Although Roy Beckett insisted he was innocent, he was sent to prison for the murder of "Brother" Strickland.  A decade and a half later, Roy is pardoned and set free, to the horror of the victim's family.  

Brenna Strickland Hertzog is having a hard enough time dealing with a nasty custody battle between her and her powerful ex-husband.  The last thing she needs right now is to deal with the shocking release of her father's killer.  Brenna's drinking too much as it is—how is she going to cope with this new development in her already stressful life?  Then Roy's son, Nate Beckett, shows up on her doorstep for the first time in 14 years, rekindling all the feelings she had for him when they were kids.  Their innocent, but clandestine teenage romance led to her father's death; renewing it now could be even more dangerous ...

Forced to take a break from his job as a smokejumper after he sustains second degree burns over 20% of his body, Nate returns home to recover and see his father.  Nate has always believed in Roy's guilt, but when his father begs him to find Brother Strickland's true killer, he feels obligated to dig into the murder.  A major complication comes in the form of beautiful, broken Brenna who needs him now more than ever.  What will Nate's sleuthing uncover?  Can Brenna ever forgive, let alone love, the son of her father's alleged murderer?

I have to say upfront that romantic suspense is really not my genre.  Add in Christian elements and it often leads to a perfect storm of cheesy, far-fetched, overwritten drama.  No, thanks.  Still, something about the premise of Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock made me agree to read and review it.  Did it change my mind about this genre?  Um, no.  While I appreciate that the novel's clean and faith-affirming, its flat characters, dull prose, and melodramatic plotline made me a little crazy.  While Brenna's a sympathetic character, she's not a super likable one.  I couldn't understand Nate's interest.  Their resulting romance, therefore, seems forced and sparkless.  As far as the suspense portion, there's not a lot as the plot focuses mainly on Brenna's personal problems.  The lackluster mystery at the heart of the story is thin and implausible, especially since the "twists" are obvious from miles away.  Overall Smoke Screen is definitely not the worst Christian romantic suspense novel I've ever read, but for me, it was a so-so read at best.  To be fair, this is how I feel about most books in this genre.  Still, I would have liked for Smoke Screen to change my mind; unfortunately, that just didn't happen.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other Christian romantic suspense novels, but no specific titles are coming to mind.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Smoke Screen from the generous folks at Thomas Nelson via those at Celebrate Lit in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

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Would you like more opinions on Smoke Screen?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by clicking on the links below:

As He Leads is Joy, November 9
Sara Jane Jacobs, November 9
CarpeDiem, November 9
Fiction Aficionado, November 10
KarenSueHadley, November 10
Quiet quilter, November 10
Among the Reads, November 11
Genesis 5020, November 11
A Reader’s Brain, November 11
Robin’s Nest, November 12
All-of-a-kind Mom, November 12
Bigreadersite , November 12
Blogging With Carol , November 12
Betti Mace, November 13
Spoken from the Heart, November 13
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 13
Emily Yager, November 13
By The Book, November 14
For Him and My Family, November 14
Splashes of Joy , November 14
Andrea Christenson, November 15
Just the Write Escape, November 16
Mary Hake, November 16
Remembrancy, November 17
Simple Harvest Reads, November 17 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
EmpowerMoms, November 17
Blessed & Bookish, November 18
Older & Smarter, November 18
Inklings and notions, November 18
amandainpa , November 19
Pause for Tales, November 19
Hallie Reads, November 20
Cathe Swanson, November 21
All 4 and About Books, November 21
Batya’s Bits, November 22
Livin’ Lit, November 22
Texas Book-aholic, November 22
janicesbookreviews, November 22

4 comments:

  1. I always have problems with melodramatic plot lines and flat characters, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? They're the kiss of death for me!

      Delete
  2. I enjoy Romantic Suspense, but removing the 'steam' factor will definitely not work for me, either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha! I prefer sweet over steamy, so I can count on Christian fiction to keep the story clean. That's not all I want from it, though! Complex characters, an exciting but believable plot, dynamic writing, etc. would be nice.

      Delete

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