Tag Archive | alcoholism

“The Cure” by Athol Dickson

Misplaced Guilt and Man’s Attempt for Redemption

Riley Keep, former missionary, now a drunk, is begging on the streets and desperate to forget a past he lost in one far-flung act of wickedness. Then he hears the rumors. Miracles are happening in the picture postcard village of Dublin, Maine.

Riley isn’t the only Pilgrim searching for deliverance. There’s the old woman fleeing a horrific monster, the lonely wife tempted by forbidden desire, the impoverished lobsterman lured by tainted wealth, the young girl weighing life and death decisions, and the small town cop with a murder on his hands. But only Riley keep will learn if it’s true what people say: sometimes The Cure is much worse than the disease.  Read more: http://www.atholdickson.com/what-others-are-saying/recommendations-for-the-cure/#ixzz2DP3uO170

Bio:  Athol Dickson’s novels transcend description with a literary style that blends magical realism, suspense, and a strong sense of spirituality. Critics have favorably compared his work to such diverse authors as Octavia Butler (Publisher’s Weekly) and Flannery O’Connor (The New York Times). His RIVER RISING is an Audie Award winner and three of his novels have won the Christy Award, including his most recent, LOST MISSION. Athol’s next novel, THE OPPOSITE OF ART, is about pride, passion, and death as a spiritual pursuit. Look for it in September, 2011. Athol lives with his wife in southern California.

Credit Sources:  here and here.


“With skill and heart, Athol Dickson plumbs the depths of a man’s soul…. Not to be missed! –Angela Hunt, author of The Elevator

Library Journal: …well-written, intelligent follow-up to Dickson’s Christy Award-winning River Rising. An involving, suspenseful take on God’s transforming grace, it tackles a serious issue while providing an absorbing story. Recommended for all collections; especially relevant for readers struggling with their own addictions.

Crosswalk: …unpredictable and surprising, even though clues are sprinkled throughout the book. The final twist was chilling and, unfortunately, not unrealistic in today’s world. …the author does a wonderful job weaving in the deceit and the actions of those unrestrained by ethics and driven by the bottom line—a common scene in today’s headlines. …a powerful book, one that will remain on my bookshelf for a long time to come.

Publisher’s Weekly: Rich with local dialect and scenery…. Dickson’s approach is thought-provoking, and his prose beautifully evokes the taciturn spirit of the Mainers who people this novel….full of interesting ideas and well-developed characters.

Cindy Crosby, FaithfulReader.com: Athol Dickson is one of Christian suspense’s best writers, and his latest spooky thriller, The Cure, continues his tradition of excellence…. Dickson adeptly handles his Maine setting, capturing the idioms and idiosyncrasies of its inhabitants. His characters are original and multifaceted, and sometimes perplexing….The plot is intriguing and fresh, and as he did in River Rising and They Shall See God, Dickson creates a series of twists and turns that continue surprising readers through the very last pages. What is more difficult to quantify is Dickson’s amazing ability to create a chilling atmosphere. Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca comes to mind; readers will feel the tension through the final paragraph. If Alfred Hitchcock was still alive, he’d be banging down Dickson’s door to make movies of his novels. (Think of what Hitchcock could do with the scenes of homeless people gradually moving in on the small Maine town!) This is a must-read novel for anyone interested in inspirational fiction. And even those who don’t usually read the genre will want to give it a look.

BlogCritics Magazine: Dickson’s skill in plotting was a highlight for me. In that department he demands the reader’s attention…. It makes for a satisfyingly complex tale with its fair share of surprises. Dickson’s writing was another of the book’s treats. He cuts straight to the action in efficient prose that never gets in the way of making the reader feel part of the scene. …a thoughtful, sometimes philosophical commentary on a range of themes from addiction to the human condition…. For a gripping, thoughtful, and worthwhile read, Athol Dickson’s The Cure is not to be missed.

Heather Hunt, absolutewrite.com: The Cure is a fascinating human interest tale in which the interconnectedness of the human race and our universal needs are revealed through the specific life stories of Riley, Hope, and Willa. Mysteries are set up and paid off with surprising yet satisfying revelations. Brutal violence is mixed with tender moments, and existential musings are offset by intense action sequences. I recommend The Cure for readers who love great writing that makes them think “what if”– and then rethink it again.

Bookshelf Review: The Cure is a fascinating tale fueled by hope and redemption. Here Dickson proves once again that he is not just a true wordsmith, but a master storyteller. The cleverly crafted narrative is laced with elements of suspense, mystery, and drama that effortlessly guide the reader along. …a beautiful story that grants encouragement and inspiration. Riley’s journey of discovery as he seeks the true cure for his life is breathtaking to say the least. This is redemptive storytelling at its best.

My Review:

With a host of characters you won’t forget soon and some that you can even relate to, Athol Dickson has penned a novel of suspense, human weaknesses, greed, soul-searching, forgiveness, and reconciliation on several levels in The Cure.

Riley Keep, a one-time pastor and missionary, who has fallen into alcoholism; living on the street, begging for money for alcohol, food and shelter; all the while trying to forget his past failures; and dealing with his frantic need to fix things.  Hope Keep who has kicked Riley out of the house because of his violent behaviors; her desire for another man though it clashes with her marital commitment; and her current role as Dublin’s Mayor.  Bree Keep wanting a daddy’s wisdom, but finds herself falling into sin and becoming pregnant out-of-wedlock.  Willa, the ever-helpful supervisor at the shelter in Dublin, Maine, who is on the run for her life.  Mr. Lee Hanks of Hanks Pharmaceuticals, who is ready to produce The Cure, but at an unreachable cost to those who need it most.

The depth of the characters makes them as real as your own friends, family and acquaintances; the whys behind the personal failures emerge throughout the storyline; and the ever-longing desire to be loved and accepted permeates the novel.  When rumors of a miracle is spread across the states, homeless men and women caught up in alcoholism cause an unfathomable influx into the city of Dublin, leaving the dying town to deal with the homeless and how to feed them without enabling them, one of whom is Riley.

Interwoven into the story are tidbits of information that give you clues as to the mystery of what has and is transpiring behind the main scene.  These tidbits create suspense that keep you glued to the book, piecing together the mystery of what happened in Riley’s life that haunts him and keeps Willa running and hiding for her life. Deceit, betrayal, murder, lawsuits, destruction, and fear for their lives keep the intensity of the drama consistent from the first page to the last.

The author’s descriptive prose, such as pregnant clouds, virgin snow, sparkling ice, miserly sun, and steely waters adds a fresh depth to the story.  I loved the way he wove these envisioning descriptions through this novel in his rich style of writing.  It adds to the complexity of the plots that twist and turn constantly throughout.

Hope and redemption was always there for the asking, it’s just that Riley had to be willing to look for the real source of redemption, instead of relying on science for a ‘miracle cure.’  He learns that he cannot fix everything, but that there is One who can, but in a way that Riley hasn’t yet experienced.   The powerful ending was not foreseen and is powerful!

One negative for me was the doctrinal issue about redemption through Communion.  It’s actually in the Person we remember when taking Communion. I would also like the warning to recovering alcoholics placed at the end of the story instead of in the epilogue section.  It’s vital.

This book can be used for other issues than just alcoholism.  There is Godly wisdom that can be gleaned for any situation men or women find themselves in.

This book was provided by the author in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was received.

“Deep Cover” by Sandra Orchard (Undercover Cops Series)


Book 1 of Undercover Cops Romantic Suspense SeriesMaintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved.  Sweet Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick-he never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he’s back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny’s uncle. The man’s crimes led to Rick’s partner’s death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is smack-dab in the middle. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment.and risking both their lives?

From a young age, I dreamed of being a writer, even as I majored in math at university. When the children were young, I took a writing course and wrote numerous reviews and articles for our homeschooling newsletter, but never pursued publication beyond that. Then following my mom’s death, I discovered Christian fiction. Seeing characters battle the same questions, yearnings and frustrations I battled, and triumph over them through God’s grace, restored my hope and rekindled my passion for writing.

So when my husband (out of desperation because of the books piling up around our house) suggested I write my own stories, little did he know where that off-handed remark would lead …

Six years and many much-revised novels later, my dreams have come true! The journey has been wonderful. I’ve had the privilege of working with many talented authors and aspiring writers who have enriched my stories and my life with their insights, suggestions, humor, and prayers. Oh, yes, and chocolate!

My husband and children continue to be my most enthusiastic encouragers. My youngest daughter Jennifer, a freelance writer and aspiring novelist herself, provides an understanding ear when writer’s block sets in, or rejections pile up. My eldest daughter, Christine, designs my web pages. She and my son Paul have even joined me at writers’ conferences. Best of all, they cheerfully help with household chores so that I have more time to write! I feel truly blessed to have a husband and children so supportive of my dreams.

Click here to read Chapter One

My Review:

Rick Gray, aka Duke Black, is an undercover cop trying to bring down the man responsible for his partner’s fiery death.  Little does he know that he will run into his old girlfriend in the process.

Ginny Bryson is the niece of Emile Laud, the man Duke is trying to catch and bring to justice, and Rick’s old girlfriend that he left fifteen months ago because he thought he needed to protect her.  Little did he know the pain he caused when he walked out of her life so abruptly.

In Deep Cover, by Sandra Orchard, we are thrust into the dangers and mysteries of the undercover world of a cop and tossed into the middle of the love/hate relationship between Rick and Ginny.  Despite all of Rick’s efforts to protect Ginny, she becomes caught up in the schemes of her uncle and is under suspicion of the police department.

Sandra’s story definitely intrigues you throughout the  numerous plots, twists and dangers in the investigation.  About the time you think you have the perpetrator identified, she tosses in another twist that throws you off-kilter.  From the first page to the last, the action and suspense is palpable.  Since I love the world of undercover cops, I was thoroughly engrossed in the details and circumstances.

Adding the romantic tension between Ginny and Rick was a fabulous way to not only expand the depth of the story, it brought out the true feelings and apprehensions of a touch-and-go romance.  Does Rick’s involvement with Ginny blind him from seeing the necessary evidence in proper perspective?  Sandra handles this aspect with the sensitivity of undercover operatives.

I enjoyed the characters of Ginny and Rick.  Their relationship was so sensitive and yet abruptly harsh.  Their faith is put to the test.  Lori, Ginny’s sister, will capture your heart.

For a good romance-inspired suspense, be sure to pick up Sandra’s book!

This book was provided by the author, Sandra Orchard, in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

For more on Deep Cover go to this site:  http://www.sandraorchard.com/Deep%20Cover%20Extras.html

“The Litigators” by John Grisham

We’ll Fight For YOU!

Book Blurb:  The partners at Finley & Figg—all two of them—often refer to themselves as “a boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. They are, of course, none of these things. What they are is a two-bit operation always in search of their big break, ambulance chasers who’ve been in the trenches much too long making way too little. Their specialties, so to speak, are quickie divorces and DUIs, with the occasional jackpot of an actual car wreck thrown in. After twenty plus years together, Oscar Finley and Wally Figg bicker like an old married couple but somehow continue to scratch out a half-decent living from their seedy bungalow offices in southwest Chicago.

And then change comes their way. More accurately, it stumbles in. David Zinc, a young but already burned-out attorney, walks away from his fast-track career at a fancy downtown firm, goes on a serious bender, and finds himself literally at the doorstep of our boutique firm. Once David sobers up and comes to grips with the fact that he’s suddenly unemployed, any job—even one with Finley & Figg—looks okay to him.

With their new associate on board, F&F is ready to tackle a really big case, a case that could make the partners rich without requiring them to actually practice much law. An extremely popular drug, Krayoxx, the number one cholesterol reducer for the dangerously overweight, produced by Varrick Labs, a giant pharmaceutical company with annual sales of $25 billion, has recently come under fire after several patients taking it have suffered heart attacks. Wally smells money.

A little online research confirms Wally’s suspicions—a huge plaintiffs’ firm in Florida is putting together a class action suit against Varrick. All Finley & Figg has to do is find a handful of people who have had heart attacks while taking Krayoxx, convince them to become clients, join the class action, and ride along to fame and fortune. With any luck, they won’t even have to enter a courtroom!

It almost seems too good to be true.

And it is.

The Litigators
is a tremendously entertaining romp, filled with the kind of courtroom strategies, theatrics, and suspense that have made John Grisham America’s favorite storyteller.

Finley & Figg:  We’ll Fight For You

The Litigators excerpt

Bio:  Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby–writing his first novel. Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn’t have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl’s father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.That might have put an end to Grishams hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham’s reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham’s success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller. Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man.

My Review:

Finley and Figg is a two-man law firm that usually makes its money by ambulance chasing, car accidents, hospital visits, quickie divorces, and DUIs.  Trying to gain notoriety and millions of dollars, they chase after a large class action tort claim against a cholesterol drug, Krayoxx, that allegedly causes deadly side effects.  Allegedly, as in ‘innocent until proved guilty.’

To add to the humorous, bickering couple of Finley & Figg and their office assistant, Rochelle, a young 32-year-old lawyer, David Zinc, burns out in his high-paying law firm position and literally tumbles into their office drunk after drinking all day at a local bar. He bumblingly enters into their frays.

The Litigators by John Grisham is about the legal wranglings, manipulations, stipulations, and courtroom shenanigans of lawyers which sound so absurd that one can hardly believe they happen today, yet they actually do.  The little three-man office against the giant pharmaceutical company, Varrick Labs, and their hoards of attorneys–all from David Zinc’s former office.

This seemed to be one of the most trivial, slow moving books I think I’ve ever read before some real action began.  Kind of like the everyday grind in a law office at times.  I had to force myself to keep reading, but I’ve experienced John Grisham’s writings before, and I knew the action would materialize. And did it ever pay off!  The slower pace and what seemed like boring details were necessary to build up to the climax.  I’m just used to high-rev action from page one.  It was worth the time to read!

Grisham has you rooting for the little guy, though all the while everything seems hopeless.  The plot builds, while you hold your breath as to the outcome.  He reels you in page by page and you know you’re hooked, because you can’t put the book down!

I don’t appreciate the cursing, which Grisham has been adding to his novels as of late, but the additional side plots added some intrigue to the main story line.

I borrowed this book from my local library.  These are my honest opinions.

Litfuse Blog Tour and Giveaway (with review): “Safe from the Past” Patricia Miller Mauro

A Story of Faith, Hope, and Determination!

A kidnapping, the divorce of her parents, the loss of her father, temporary abandonment and extreme poverty are just some of the issues the author dealt with as a young child.

Her mother finally tells her she must go to college so she can break out of this cycle of poverty and hopelessness. But how can she when she has no money and absolutely no confidence or self-esteem?

Read this true story to discover what hope, faith and determination can do to change a life.

A truly inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships, Safe from the Past makes clear the restorative power of an education.

Told in an open, honest voice with the deepest sincerity, the author’s life story serves as a rousing inspiration to those with the desire to create a better life than the one they are currently living.

No matter how helpless you feel, everyone has the power to shape their own life.


Patricia worked in New York City’s financial district for thirteen years in the field of securities operations. At that time, she went on to obtain an MBA from New York University. She and her husband moved to Dallas, TX in 2001 where they are raising their two children.

During her time in NY, Patricia wrote an article entitled “A Tribute To My Mother” which was published in “The Recovery Journal” in 1999. Her book is a continuation of that tribute and serves to spread the message to those in similar situations that good news is on its way to children considering a higher education but who are afraid to dream. For more information please visit, www.patriciamaurobooks.com.

About the Giveaway! 

Litfuse is sponsoring a $30 Amazon.com giveaway.

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #litfuse) about Safe From the Past or share about it on Facebook!

If you tweet we’ll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know (info@litfusegroup.com). Easy. (All Litfuse bloggers who post a review are automatically entered and do NOT need to email us.)

Not sure what to tweet/post? Here’s an idea:

TWEET THIS:  Safe From the Past by Patricia Mauro – inspiring tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships. http://ow.ly/5FQHA #litfuse

FACEBOOK THIS: Don’t miss Patricia Mauro’s Safe From the Past  – inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships. http://ow.ly/5FQHA. Told in an open, honest voice with the deepest sincerity, the author’s life story serves as a rousing inspiration to those with the desire to create a better life than the one they are currently living.

Blog Tour Schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13380085).

Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Safe-Past-Story-Faith-Determination/dp/1933651849/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310054112&sr=sprightly-2o

My Review:

Patricia Miller Mauro’s book, Safe From The Past, is an inside look of her life of kidnapping, divorce, poverty, remarriage, control, alcoholism, abuse, and safety from her past.   A mother’s desire for her daughters to escape the life she lived.

Patricia wrote it in first person, sharing her and her family’s life through dysfunction.  It’s a great encouragement for children/teens in these situations to know that they can escape and make a better life for themselves.  Though not always easy, God provided her with the finances to make it through college, find a job, marry and have children.

There’s a surprise ending that will touch your heart with both joy and pain.  Truth prevails.  But it is bittersweet.

A great book to share with teens who you know are struggling and want to encourage to break from the past!  It can be done!

This book was provided by Amy Lathrop of  Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.

Susan Sleeman’s “Behind the Badge” Book and a $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway! (includes book review)

Enter to win a copy of Susan Sleeman’s Behind the Badge and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Susan Sleeman here. Behind the Badge, my second romantic suspense book for Love Inspired Suspense will release on June 6th and in honor of all of you, the readers, I am hosting a special contest on my website for the month of June.

Let’s face it. Without you, the wonderful readers, books would not exist and I wouldn’t be able to wake up looking forward to a job that is fresh and exciting each and every day. Praise God for this incredible opportunity!

Now back to the contest. All you have to do is read the excerpt below then go to my WEBSITE and answer the following question. That’s it. You’re entered to win.

If you’d like to sign up for my mailing list to learn of other contests in the future you can do that at the same time, too. Full contest rules are on the entry page. Remember only one entry per person.

QUESTION: What did Russ ask a unit to stake out?

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com.

Her books include Nipped in the Bud, High-Stakes Inheritance, Behind the Badge, and The Christmas Witness. Also watch for the first two romantic suspense books in her Justice Agency series coming from Love Inspired suspense in 2012 and featuring a private investigations firm specializing in helping those who traditional law enforcement has failed.

Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.

To learn more about Susan visit her website, Facebook , or Twitter.

Behind the Badge

The Morgan Brothers – Bk 2

Love Inspired Suspense

June 6, 2011

ISBN-10: 0373444478

ISBN-13: 978-0373444472


A killer is threatening the life of rookie cop Sydney Tucker’s sister-unless Sydney turns over evidence from a drug bust. But she doesn’t have the evidence. Not that the thug believes her. Now she and the sibling in her care are under the watchful eye of Logan Lake police chief Russ Morgan…but will his protection be enough?

The killer is closing in, picking off the people and places that mean the most to Sydney. A list that now includes Russ. To protect her loved ones, will she pay the ultimate price-her life?


Chapter One

Gunshots split the inky darkness.

Deputy Sydney Tucker hit the cold ground, a jagged rock slashing into her forehead on the way down. She reached for her service weapon. Came up empty handed. She’d stopped after work to check on the construction of her townhouse and left her gun and cell phone in the car.

Dumb, Sydney. Really dumb. Now what’re you gonna do?

Inching her head above knee-high grass, she listened. The keening whistle of the wind died, leaving the air damp and heavy with tension but silence reigned.

Had she overreacted? Could be target practice. But at night? Maybe. Hunters did crazy things sometimes.

Footfalls pounded from below like someone charging through the brush. No. Two people. Maybe a chase. One person after another. A loud crash, branches snapping.

“What’re you doin’, man,” a panicked male voice traveled through the night. “No! Don’t shoot! We can work this out.”

Three more gunshots rang out. A moan drifted up the hill.

Not target practice. Someone had been shot.

Sydney lurched to her feet, dizziness swirling around her. Blood dripped into her eyes. She wiped it away, blinked hard and steadied herself on a large rock while peering into the wall of darkness for the best escape route.

Heavy footfalls crunched up the gravel path.

“I know you’re here, Deputy Tucker,” a male voice, disguised with a high nasally pitch, called out. “We need to talk about this. C’mon out.”

Yeah, right. Come out and die. Not hardly.

Praying, pleading for safety, she scrambled deeper into the scrub. Over rocks. Through grass tangling her feet. Her heart pounded in her head, drowning the prayers with fear.

“I’m losing patience, Deputy,” he called again in that strange voice. “You’re not like Dixon. He had it coming. You don’t.”

Dixon? Did he mean the man she arrested for providing alcohol to her teenage sister and for selling drugs? Was that what this was about?

Rocks skittered down the incline. The shooter was on the move again. No time to think. She had to go. Now!

Blindly she felt her way past shrubs, over uneven ground. Dried leaves crunched underfoot. Branches slapped her face and clawed at her arms, but she stifled her cries of pain.

“I hear you, Deputy.”

She wrenched around to determine his location. A protruding rock caught her foot, catapulting her forward. She somersaulted through the air. Her knee slammed into the packed earth and she crashed down the hill. Wrapping arms around her head for protection, she came to a stop, breath knocked out of her chest, lying flat on her back in a thick stand of weeds.

“So you want to play it that way, do you Deputy? Fine. Just remember, you can run, but you can’t hide. I will find you. This will be resolved one way or another.” His disembodied laugh swirled into the night.

The darkness pressed closer. Blinding. Overwhelming. Terrifying.

She was easy prey. Even with her bulletproof vest, a few rounds fired in her direction would take her out. She had to get up.

She rose to her knees, but pain knifed into her knee, keeping her anchored to the ground.

Lord, please don’t let me die like this. Give me the strength to move. I need to live for Nikki. She’s only seventeen. She has no one.

Sydney uncurled and came to a standing position. Taking a few halting steps, she tested the pain. Nearly unbearable. But she could-no she had to do this for her sister.

Thinking of Nikki, she gritted her teeth and set off, moving slowly, taking care not to make a sound.

Out of the darkness, a hand shot out. Clamped over her mouth.

Screams tore from her throat, but died behind fingers pressed hard against her lips.

A muscled arm jerked her against a solid chest and dragged her deep into the brush.

God, please, no.

She twisted, arched her back, pushing against arms like iron bands.

She dug her heels into the ground, but he was too strong. He kept going deeper into the brush before settling them both on the ground behind a large boulder.

“Relax Sydney, it’s Russ Morgan,” Logan Lake’s Police Chief whispered, his lips close to her ear.

Russ Morgan? What was he doing here?

“Sorry about the hand.” His tone said she was nothing more than a stranger instead of someone she’d known for years. “I didn’t want you to alert the shooter with a scream. I’m gonna remove my hand now. Nod if you understand me.”

She let all of her relief escape in a sharp jerk of her head. His fingers dropped away.

“Once the shooter rounded that curve, you would’ve been a goner,” he whispered while still firmly holding her. “Good thing a neighbor reported gunshots.”

Sydney started to shiver and breathed deep to steady her galloping pulse. Air rushed into her lungs. She was alive, but barely. No thanks to her own skills.

“You okay?” he asked, his breath stirring her hair.

“Yes.” She willed her body to stop shaking and eased out a hiss of disappointment in her performance as a deputy. “How long have you been here?”

“Long enough to hear the shooter claim he’s hit Dixon and is coming after you next,” he whispered again, but urgency lit his voice and rekindled her fear. “This have to do with your arrest of Carl Dixon the other day?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered back. “I just stopped to check on the construction of my townhouse on my way home from work.”

“Off duty, huh? Explains why you don’t have your weapon drawn.”

“I left my duty belt in my car.” She waited for his reaction to not carrying, but he simply gave a quick nod as footfalls grated against gravel.

“Shh, he’s about to pass us.” Russ leaned forward and drew his gun with his free hand, but didn’t release his hold on her.

Crunching steps came within a few feet of their location. Halted.

“Can you feel me breathing down your neck, Deputy? I’m inches from finding you.” He didn’t know the accuracy of his words.

She felt Russ’s breathing speed up, upping her concern and washing away the brief blanket of security his arms provided. Adrenaline urged her to move. To keep from panicking, she focused on Russ’s unwavering weapon.

The shooter took a few steps closer. Her heart thumped, threatening to leave her chest. Russ tightened his hold as if he knew she wanted to bolt.

The shooter spun sending gravel flying then headed up the path.

As his footsteps receded, she tried to relax taut muscles. The warmth from Russ’s body helped chase out her fear and the chill of the night. Thank God Russ was here. If he hadn’t come.

She refused to go there. God had watched over her. Provided rescue, just not in the form she’d have chosen.

Not only was Russ an officer from the city police force-a team often in competition with the county sheriff’s department where she worked-but a man she’d had a crazy crush on in high school. A man whose rugged good looks still turned women’s heads.

She let out a long sigh.

“I know this’s awkward,” he whispered, “but hang tight for a few more minutes. We need to wait for him to head back down the hill.”

She wanted to protest and suggest they flee now, but not Russ. He thought clearly. Taking off now gave the killer the advantage of higher ground, making them moving targets. They’d have to sit like this until he passed them again.

If they made it out of here, which the approaching footfalls told her wasn’t at all certain.

They pounded closer. The shooter moved at a quick clip this time as if he thought she’d gotten away and he was fleeing. Or maybe he was heading to her car to lay in wait for her.

As the footsteps receded again, she felt Russ’s arm slacken.

“Time to roll,” he whispered. “Stay here.”

“But I-”

“You have a backup?” He referred to a back up gun officers often carry.

She shook her head.

“Then wait here.” He gave her the hard stare that’d made him famous around town and crept toward the path.

She leaned against the boulder and wrapped her arms around the warm circle on her waist where he’d held her. Without his warmth, she couldn’t quit shaking. The reality of the night froze her inner core.

She should listen to Russ. Lay low. Wait until he apprehended the killer.

That was the safe thing to do.

The easy thing to do.

The wrong thing to do.

Not for everyone, but for an officer of the law, letting a shooter escape without trying to stop him wasn’t an option. Even if that shooter had her in his sights, she’d make her way to her car for her gun and help Russ stop this maniac before he hurt anyone else.


Near the ditch, Russ came to a stop and fought to catch his breath. Taillights on a mud splattered dirt bike roared up the trail. He’d warned the suspect to stop, but short of shooting him in the back, Russ couldn’t stop him from fleeing into the dark.

At least he’d accomplished his primary objective. To protect Sydney and keep her alive. Now he needed to alert his men and the sheriff’s office to the suspect’s whereabouts.

He lifted his shoulder mic and ordered a unit from his office to stake out the end of the trail for the motorcycle and an ambulance in case Dixon survived. Then he asked dispatch to patch him through to the county sheriff’s department to make sure they knew he’d taken charge of the scene so none of their hotshot deputies arrived with the hope of usurping control.

He turned on his Maglight and headed up the hill. The beam of light skipped over gravel and lush plants lining the winding path. Midway up, rustling brush stopped him cold. He’d left Sydney higher up. Nearer the lake.

Was a second shooter hoping to ambush him?

He flipped off his light and sought protection behind a tree. His breath came in little pulses in the unusually cold air for a typical Oregon fall. Adrenaline with little time to ebb away came roaring back, but even as the noise grew louder, he resisted the urge to take action

Maybe it was Sydney. The Sydney he used to know wouldn’t have listened to his directive and stayed put. She’d trounce down the hill, her chin tilted at the same insolent angle as when he told her he didn’t return her crazy crush her freshman year of high school. Not that he’d wanted to send a beautiful, lively girl like her away. He could easily have dated her, but he was four years older, in college. With their age difference, it wouldn’t have been right.

Bushes at the path’s edge shook then parted. Slowly, like a sleek panther, Sydney slipped out. He watched until she stood tall on those incredibly long legs he’d admired since she was sixteen before lowering his gun and aiming his flashlight at her.

She jumped. Peered up at him, an impudent look planted on her face. This was the Sydney he’d known as a teen and heaven help him, in less than thirty minutes, she’d sparked his interest again.

“Care to shine that somewhere other than my face.” She perched her hand over her eyes, warding off the glare.

He moved the light but not before he caught a good look at a gaping wound running from her hairline to eyebrow, covered in congealed blood. He lifted his hand to check out her injury, but stopped. He wouldn’t probe a wound on one of his men’s faces. As a fellow LEO-law enforcement officer-he wouldn’t treat Sydney any differently.

“I told you to stay put.” He infused his words with authority.

“I wanted to help. Wish I’d listened. I tripped over the body.” She held out blood-covered hands. Her eyes watered as if she might cry.

Man. Don’t do that. Don’t fall apart. He couldn’t remain detached if she started crying. He’d have to empathize, maybe give her a reassuring pat on the arm. Maybe feel her pain and resurrect all the reasons he’d left his homicide job in Portland.

He changed his focus. Nodded at the brush. “Show me the body.”

As a faint whine of sirens spiraled in the distance, she limped into tall grass, a grimace of pain marring her beautiful face. He followed, illuminating the area ahead of her. About ten feet in, she suddenly stopped. He shone his light a few feet ahead of her.

Diffused rays slid over a young male lying on his back. Russ swung the beam to the man’s face landing on open eyes staring into the blackness above.

Sydney gasped and swung around him. She rushed toward the main path. Even though Russ knew it was a lost cause, he bent down to check for a pulse. No question, this man hadn’t made it and no question about his identity. Carl Dixon, a man every LEO in the area knew from his frequent blips onto the police radar and the most recent arrest for selling drugs.

All that ended with three gunshots to the chest at close range from what Russ could see with his flashlight. Once they thoroughly processed the scene, he’d know better. But first, they needed to vacate the area before further contaminating the scene.

He found Sydney near the path, gaze fixed in the distance, hands clasped on her hips and exhaling long breaths as if trying to expel what she’d just seen.

Haunted eyes peered at him. “He’s dead, right?”


“And what about the killer?”

“Couldn’t catch him. He took off on a dirt bike.”

Disappointment crowded out the fear on her face. “Did you at least see him?”

“From the back. He was my height or a little taller, but lean. Wore a black stocking cap. The bike has a plate so it must be street legal. I caught the first few digits.”

“That’s something, then.”

Russ didn’t want to tell her it would do little for them in terms of searching DMV records as three digits would return thousands of bikes, but he didn’t think she could take any more bad news so he kept quiet. “Let’s head down to the parking lot.”

He gave her the flashlight and urged her to take the lead down the steep hill. Once on solid concrete, she handed it back to him. Holding it overhead, he watched her closely for dizziness or other impairments from her fall. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, but a head injury could mean a concussion. He’d have the EMT’s check her out when they got here.

He pointed at a rough-hewn bench. “Maybe you should sit down.”

“I’m fine ” Her voice cracked and she seemed embarrassed over reacting to the murder.

“It’s okay to be upset, Syd. A horrible thing happened tonight.”

“I’m fine really. I’ll be back to a hundred percent by morning.”

Text copyright © by Susan Sleeman

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

My Review:

In Behind the Badge, Susan Sleeman has pulled off another riveting, love-inspired suspense. Sydney Tucker is a rookie cop who receives threatening phone messages, insinuating that someone may get hurt unless she turns over crucial evidence taken from the home of a drug bust.  She’s in a quandary,  as she has no idea what that evidence could be, as she didn’t take anything from the house.

Under the order of Logan Lake police chief, Russ Morgan, Sydney is assigned to work with him to find who is behind the threats being sent.  Having had a crush on Russ back in high school, she wonders how they will work together.  Little sparks of romance begin to seep out, but both try to keep wraps around their emotions, so they can concentrate on the investigation and subsequent protective custody. However, both Sydney and Russ have broken pasts and secrets that hinder their working and personal relationships.

Susan leads us on a wild goose chase, trying to stay ahead of the perpetrator.  The ever-changing plots and twists in the story thoroughly keep your attention as your mind tries to encapsulate who the culprit is.  The trails of evidence pull you into different directions, throwing you off course as to how you think it went down. The story line is vivid and true to the methods of police training and operations, with a few minor tweaks here and there by the characters to pull off secret plans!

Susan does a great job of exemplifying Nikki’s defiant attitude toward Sydney’s ‘unfair’ rules, escalating their relationship to the point where Nikki sneaks out and causes more problems throughout the deadly crisis.  She depicts the typical behavior for a defiant teenager trying to find her own way and fun, even if it eventually causes undue tension and danger for others.

Sydney’s faith kept her going throughout the whole ordeal, knowing God was aware of all that was transpiring, though she didn’t understand it all.  Russ wasn’t as open.  And Nikki—forget it, she too old for Sunday school times.

I was hooked by all the twists and plots, the numerous and innocuous phone messages, the perpetrator’s knowledge, the accuracy of police procedures, the romantic tension between Russ and Sidney, Sydney’s faith, and the defiant teenage behavior amidst the tension of a dangerous situation.  This is just as riveting as Susan’s previous novel, High-Stakes Inheritance.  She is an author that will go far!

This book was provided by Susan Sleeman in exchange for my honest opinion.  I was not required to write a good review.   No monetary compensation was exchanged.

“The Fence My Father Built” by Linda S. Clare

Finding Your Way Home!

Product Description:  In The Fence My Father Built, when legally separated Muri Pond, a librarian, hauls her kids, teenage Nova and eleven year-old Truman, out to the tiny town of Murkee, Oregon, where her father, Joe Pond lived and died, she’s confronted by a neighbor’s harassment over water rights and Joe’s legacy: a fence made from old oven doors.

The fence and accompanying house trailer horrify rebellious Nova, who runs away to the drug-infested streets of Seattle. Muri searches for her daughter and for something to believe in, all the while trying to save her inheritance from the conniving neighbor who calls her dad Chief Joseph. Along with Joe’s sister, Aunt Lutie, and the Red Rock Tabernacle Ladies, Muri must rediscover the faith her alcoholic dad never abandoned in order to reclaim her own spiritual path.

Bio:  Linda S. Clare  is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them (with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She has also published many essays, stories, and poems in publications including The Christian Reader, The Denver Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Linda grew up in a part of Arizona, where the dirt is as red as it is in Central Oregon. She graduated summa cum laude in Art Education from Arizona State University and taught in public and private schools. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!

See Linda’s trailer for The Fence My Father Built here.

(Description and Bio information came from Amazon.)


“Linda has an amazing voice…her artful descriptions and clever wit will capture you into a story that you’ll remember long after you close the book.” –Melody Carlson, Bestselling Author

My Review:

Muri Pond is in the midst of a divorce from Chaz when she receives word of her father, Joseph Pond’s, death and the issues surrounding her inherited property.  The land she inherited consisted of a dilapidated trailer where her Aunt Lutie and Uncle Tiny live, where they cared for Joseph until he died, as well as a creek and the legal problems surrounding the creek (‘liquid gold’).  She arrived with all belongings and her two children, Nova, 15, and Truman (Tru), 11.  Attitudes clashed between mother and daughter the whole way out there and beyond!

Lincoln Jackson (Linc) owns everything in and around Murkee except Joseph Pond’s land and creek and Rubin Jonto’s land, which Linc is pressuring to acquire.  Everyone has acquiesced to Linc except Rubin and Joseph, and he now expects Muri to fold.  But she is her father’s daughter!

Because of his drunkenness, Joseph had lost communication with Muri shortly after she turned three, when his wife left him and remarried. Linda’s book, The Fence My Father Built, is the tender story of the struggling issues Muri has regarding her dad and finding his heart for her after so many years apart, the first through years of love for him and then eventual hatred.  You go through the throes of love, anger, loss, rejection, and loneliness that a child, now an adult, has to reconcile with, along with the legal issues about the ranch thrown in.  The story is told through the voice and heart of Muri, along with the voice and heart of her father through his journal.  Definitely touches your heart.

The struggles of  the ranchers that need the ‘liquid gold,’ the greed of one man who threatens to take that land through legal means, which appears to go beyond just the title to the creek, are aptly described for this dry, dusty country.  The tension and animosity are palpable between the characters.  However, Linda tosses in a sweet romance to take the edge off the ugly issues brewing.

I loved the story for the rich history of the land, the personal reconciliation that Muri needed to work through, the touching story of the love of a father for his daughter, and the faith and truth that binds it all together.  The ‘Fence” adds a delightful touch of character to the story.  ‘Finding your way home’ has a double meaning that everyone needs to find.

This book was provided by Linda S. Clare in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

You can purchase Linda’s book here and here.

“Promises to Keep” by Ann Tatlock

A MOTHER fleeing unspeakable danger to keep her children safe…

TWO YOUNG GIRLS guarding secrets in a “cross my heart and hope to die” pledge…

A FATHER desperate to be reunited with his family…

She simply wants what every young girl wants—a daddy who loves her….

Eleven-year-old Rosalind (Roz) Anthony escapes an abusive home life when her mother decides to leave her husband and take the children to another state. Leaving Minnesota behind and settling in Mills River, Illinois, the family is surprised to wake up one day and find a stranger on their front porch, reading the morning paper. That stranger is 70-year-old Tillie Monroe, the former owner who aims to die in the house her husband built for her and where she lived all her married life—before her sons sold the place out from under her. Tillie’s insistence on coming home proves a godsend for the family in ways they could never imagine. Alan Anthony has followed the family to Mills River, but reveals himself only to Roz. What Roz wants more than anything is for her daddy to quit drinking, to be the good man she knows him to sometimes be, and to take his rightful place as husband and father. He promises to change. But should Roz trust him?

Click to watch the video online

Click here to find out more about Promises to Keep

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I tapped out my first stories on my grandfather’s old manual typewriter in the summer of 1973. I studied English and theology in college and later went on to earn my master’s degree in journalism from Wheaton College Graduate School. I worked as a writer and editor for Decision magazine from 1987-1992, when I left to pursue fiction writing full-time. I find great satisfaction in my work, and I especially enjoy hearing from my readers. In addition to writing, I also teach at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and online through the Christian Writers Guild.

For more information about Ann, click here: http://www.anntatlock.com/


Novel Journey and I give it our highest recommendation. A must read.
–Ane Mulligan (www.noveljourney.blogspot.com)

Ann Tatlock has a way of spinning a story that leaves readers deeply moved and unguardedly contemplative—and her newest offering lives up to that standard.  –Michele Howe, CBA Retailers

A lively narrative….poignant and moving.  –Publishers Weekly

“Award-winning inspirational fiction author Tatlock continues to excel in her latest contemporary novel….Even as it moves along at a comfortable pace, the novel is peppered with suspense….Recommended for fans of inspirational coming-of-age stories and tales of brave young women.”  –Elizabeth Ponder, Booklist, starred review

My Review:

Janis Anthony decides to leave her abusive husband, Alan, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, taking their three children, Wally, Rosalind (Roz) and Valerie along.  With the help of her father (Grandpa Lehman), they purchase a home in Mills River, Illinois.

Within a few days of settling in, Tillie Monroe, the former owner of the house, appears on their porch, reading their Sunday paper.  She explains that she and her husband built this house, raised their family there, and that she has every intention of dying in ‘her’ house, as did her husband.  Though Tillie’s son continues to return her to the old folks’ home, she ends up back at ‘her’ house.  Soon she ends up living there, and she turns out to be a blessing in disguise in more ways than one.  In fact, you, too, will come to love and appreciate Tillie and her love and wisdom.

For those who grew up in a family with a mother and father, you will learn from Ann Tatlock’s book, Promises to Keep, the hardships of being in a single-parent family.  Some of the challenges include a teenager who’s angry at life and wants to move on, the audacity of a mother dating someone other than daddy, the shenanigans pulled on that other someone, handling disciplinary problems alone, and the challenges of making ends meet on a mother’s salary.

One can hear about these issues, but it’s another to experience them through the eyes of a young girl who is living it all first-hand.  This story is told from Roz’s point-of-view, and you become privy to her special heartaches, desires and secrets.  Ann does a great job of bringing out characters that are so true-to-life, while at the same time tugging on your heartstrings at the broken hearts, fears, anger, and loneliness.  It’s Roz’s close friendship with Mara that helps her through some of the tough times.  They both love and miss their daddies, and make a ‘daddy wish’ pinky prayer promise, with a solemn promise to keep their secrets hidden.

Unbeknownst to Janis, Alan Anthony has also moved to Mills River, but keeps himself hidden from all but Roz, who aches to have her daddy back, if he keeps his promises to change.  You’ll witness the unfair manipulations of a desperate dad who takes advantage of a very vulnerable girl who trusts him to make them a family again.  Through the prayers of Tillie, we are privileged to see God turn the whole situation around.

The slower life of Mills River is a quiet respite after life in the city of Minneapolis.  Having experienced both, I really enjoyed the lifestyle differences portrayed by Ann.

I won’t easily forget this book, now knowing more deeply the pains of losing a mother or father to divorce, and the deep desire of many of the children who want to see them reunite.  The whole book is gently, yet decisively, written to keep your interest.

This book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary value was exchanged.