Beguiled – A Review

The first part of this week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (CFBA) is featuring Beguiled by J. Mark Bertrand and Deeanne Gist.

If you read yesterday’s guest post by Mark, you know a little about his ideas regarding Christian fiction. You may then wonder, how did his concepts translate into an actual novel? I’ll be happy to give you my opinion. (Have I ever been shy about stating my opinion? 😆 )

The Genre. Beguiled is an adult Christian romantic suspense novel.

The Story. Only child Rylee Monroe has no one when her parents die—no one except the clients for whom she walks dogs and a caring neighbor in her rundown apartment building. Shortly after a frightening late-night encounter with reporter Logan Woods, Rylee becomes embroiled in a sequence of crimes committed by the Robin Hood burglar. Within days she is the prime suspect.

Logan is convinced of Rylee’s innocence. His reputation as a writer and his pending book contract depend on him finding out who is actually behind the thefts. He and Rylee team up, but suspicion leads to police accusation. Even as Rylee and Logan grow closer, she becomes the target of the Robin Hood burglar.

And I’ll stop there. I’ve probably already said too much.

Strengths. For the most part, the writing was strong. I had a good sense of who these characters were. They had depth—a past filled with difficulty and problems that affected their present.

The suspense was just the right amount as far as I was concerned. I worried for Rylee, but I wasn’t so afraid I wanted to close the book and read something else. In fact, the story questions piqued my curiosity as did the developing circumstances, so I kept turning pages in the wee hours of the night simply because I wanted to know.

Regarding the “faith elements,” which I don’t necessarily discuss in a review, I thought they arose naturally as part of character development. There was no overt preaching, but one character’s Christianity clearly influenced that person’s decisions and actions.

The authors did an excellent job establishing place. I had a real feel for the tight Charleston community south of Broad as well as the rougher, poorer area where Rylee lived. And place turns out to be more important than it first appears.

If I had to name a theme, I think I’d say it involved trust—both giving it and earning it. However, since Mark and I used to have long argu discussions about intentionally incorporating themes in fiction, I suspect I may be seeing something cohesive that the writers never purposed.

Weaknesses. I realize this was romantic suspense, not mystery. However, the fact remains, the story centered on a mystery that the two main characters were trying to solve. The problem was, there weren’t sufficient numbers of characters in the story to supply an adequate amount of red herrings.

Consequently, the perpetrator was apparent quite early (though that person’s motives still remained unclear). Since I’m a mystery lover more than a suspense fan, I was disappointed in this lack of additional suspects.

Apart from a couple minor, and probably imperceptible, inconsistencies, the story was well told.

Recommendation. Anyone who enjoys clean romantic suspense should move Beguiled to the top of their list. It’s got tender moments followed by breath-taking ones. Lots of reason to keep turning the page. Must read for fans of the genre. Recommended as a light, entertaining story for everyone else.

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Disclaimer as per current FTC rules: In conjunction with the CFBA, I received a free copy of Begiled for review from Bethany House Publishers.

Published in: on February 2, 2010 at 10:58 am  Comments Off on Beguiled – A Review  
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