Relevant Fiction Reviews: Christian Romantic Suspense

Relevant Fiction Reviews

There’s nothing to get the heart pounding like nail-biting suspense paired with a blooming romance, one fanned to flame my mortal peril. Here are a handful that I’ve enjoyed in recent months. (All are inspirational/Christian novels, but none are heavy-handed, and faith is woven naturally into the stories.)

Finding AmandaFinding Amanda by Robin Patchen

Finding Amanda is a tightly-written romance with enough mystery and suspense to keep you guessing at the identity of the villain’s co-conspirator clear to the final scenes.

Robin Patchen has created well-developed characters with rich, painful pasts and lets the reader watch as those pasts catch up with them, literally and figuratively. As Amanda and Mark’s marriage teeters on the brink of divorce, they must deal with the real and present threat that Amanda’s past has become to her future.

The inspirational thread is subtle and handled well, and while the details of Amanda’s painful past remain blurred, the author shares enough to keep the story gritty and realistic, not flinching at the scars created by abuse and regret.

Finding Amanda was a quick and engaging page-turner that had me rooting for Amanda and Mark’s reunion.

After the Thaw (Frozen Footprints #2)After the Thaw by Therese Heckenkamp

When it comes to romantic suspense, I’m typically a bigger fan of the romance than the suspense, but After the Thaw delivers both well. Therese Heckenkamp skillfully keeps the suspense going through most the novel as she peels back layers on the mysterious villains and their tragic, twisted pasts.

The central characters, Charlene and Clay, drew me to the story more than the plot. In fact, Charlene’s repeated rejections by, well, just about everyone, brought me to tears several times.

Gentle faith themes are interwoven in the plot quite naturally as you’d expect from characters who make repeated trips to death’s door and endure suffering of all sorts. The mood, however, remains hopeful rather than gloomy.

Among my favorite parts were Charlene and Clay’s conversations about faith, gratitude, and suffering. And, of course, their tender love story, so full of hope, healing, and redemption.

Still Life (Chesapeake Valor #2)Still Life by Dani Pettrey

While I liked Cold Shot, the first book in Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor Series, Still Life is a far superior book. With a large cast, multiple crimes, and several romances, the author had a lot of balls to keep in the air, which she accomplished remarkably well.

I’ll admit that since it’s been quite a while since I read Cold Shot, I was at least a third of the way through Still Life before I got a handle on who was who once again, a task made more difficult by several names that could fit either gender. That difficulty aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the pacing. A masterful plot twist had me quickly rethinking the identity of the true perpetrator.

Parker and Avery, who are center stage in this book, are likable characters whose sweet romance is endearing. I also enjoy the Baltimore setting, a locale somewhat familiar to me.

Still Life is a perfect bend of nail-biting creepiness, criminal intrigue, new beginnings, and sweet romance. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series!

Tangled Webs (Men of Valor #3)Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon

Tangled Webs is a prime example of the well-crafted, clean romantic suspense I’ve come to expect from Irene Hannon: an honorable man, a woman in jeopardy, and a budding romance.

With a couple of twists in the well-honed formula, Ms. Hannon is able to keep even the familiar reader engaged. Since the hero, Finn McGregor, is “off duty” for the novel and in greater physical peril than pretty editor Dana Lewis, I was eager to see how the resolution would play out.

The banter and camaraderie among the McGregor brothers is fun. Al in all, an entertaining read with just the right blend of romance and suspense.

Most Highly Favored Daughter: A Sanctified SuspenseMost Highly Favored Daughter: A Sanctified Suspense by Janice Lane Palko

Most Highly Favored Daughter is an engaging read with an interesting cast set in my favorite city – Pittsburgh. The author provides enough bread crumbs to keep the reader engaged in unraveling the plot so that suspense is maintained until the final chapters with some unexpected twists along the way.

The book also draws much-needed attention to the vile crime of sex trafficking and its prevalence. I enjoyed the faith elements of the book, particularly the inclusion of Saint Bahkita and the human portrayal of Cara’s friend and advisor, Father Nicco.

Truth Stained Lies (Moonlighters, #1)Truth Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock

The audiobook version of Truth Stained Lies was my only companion on a 400-mile round trip drive. To the credit of the author and the narrator, I didn’t get sleepy once!

Despite a large cast of characters, each was distinct with his or her own story arc. The story was engaging and suspenseful and the writing good. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.