Uneven Exchange by S.K. Derban – Book Review

 

Uneven Exchange  By S. K. Derban

Published By  Limitless Publishing  August 26, 2015

Genres: Romance, Mystery & Thrillers

Pages:  344

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Like fire and ice, reality for Alexandra Callet runs hot and cold. Most would assume life is nearly perfect for the exotic looking beauty. At the age of thirty-three, Alexandra owns a stunning home, and has a successful interior design career. Yet, she is left unfulfilled. Alexandra yearns for a serious relationship, and feels haunted by an extreme void.

For a long time, Alexandra has been desperately in love with her business partner, Jake Taylor. Although they work together, Alexandra wonders if Jake even realizes she is a woman. Finally as a soul searching escape, Alexandra takes a week off and gravitates to the serenity Mexico offers. Instead she is recruited to work with the DEA. Alexandra knew her decision to help would separate her from the man she loves. She never thought it would mean life or death.

UNEVEN EXCHANGE celebrates the many facets of a woman. As she fights for her survival, Alexandra’s faith in God gives her the strength to make a difference.

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Story Notes

S. K. Derban’s latest thriller is a story that grabs the attention so completely that the reader will be hard pressed to put it down before finishing.

Uneven Exchange is one of the best written mystery thrillers I have read in quite a while. The precision of the law enforcement information and the carefully crafted characters made for an exceptional read that kept me turning the pages quickly to discover how this adventure would turn out. Alexandra Callet is the 33 year old Interior designer and co-owner of the San Diego based Daniel Cole Company. She has been in love with her business partner Jake Taylor but cannot seem to make him realize her feelings. In an effort to sort out what to do next Alex heads to Cozumel, Mexico for a week long vacation at her beach-side condo. While there she is spotted by DEA agents working a case to capture The Magician – an well- known cartel assassin named Miguel Santiago who has recently killed one of their fellow agents. Her resemblance to the sister of the assassin they are seeking is incredible and after convening with their boss, Special Agent in Charge Kevin O’Neil, they come up with a plan that might finally allow them to close the case. When Alex returns to her home to San Diego, Kevin contacts her and requests her help with the case. And upon receiving her okay they begin their plan: Alexandra, who already greatly resembles Santiago’s sister Daniela, will take Daniela’s place when she goes to visit Santiago to discuss the finances of her new business. What follows is a great adventure through emulation and danger as Alex helps the DEA take custody of one of the most feared drug cartel assassins. The way in which Ms. Derban wrote the book was extremely effective in helping me keep all the characters and their roles in the story straight. It is always hard to jump into an ongoing-situation-type story and ensure that your readers don’t get lost in the barrage of information, but Ms. Derban did exactly that.Further, Ms. Derban created  wonderfully human main characters in Alexandra, Kevin, Rico and Jake. I found myself truly interested in what happened to each of them throughout the story and loved how real each person was – expressing fears, depressing anger with sarcasm and learning to share and accept the love of those around them. And, speaking of sarcasm, there were some really great quips and zings traded  throughout the whole story – making it a fun and enjoyable ride through a dark and dangerous quest for justice. I also liked the depth of faith that the main characters exuded, from the personal prayers to their candid conversations with others. I would have preferred to have a better and more fully described conclusion for Alex and Jake. I was glad to see they ended up together but felt the ending was rushed a bit and wished there was more conversation between them after Alex returned from her mission.

My only two issues with this book were the insertion of swear words and an almost too descriptive scene of love between Kevin and his wife. I wanted so very badly to give this book 5 out of 5 stars but just couldn’t be okay with those inclusions in an otherwise fantastic story. I know of many authors who simply put in “so-and-so cursed under his breath” and this would have been preferable to the actual words. I also was a little embarrassed while reading the love scene between Kevin and his wife. It wasn’t graphic but just more descriptive than I would care to read. For this reason I would be careful in my recommendation of this book without giving a word of warning to the reader. I would not recommend this book be read by anyone who is younger than 16 with these themes included. But for a mature person I do believe this story can be an enjoyable and thrilling story to read.

This e-book was provided to me at no cost by Limitless Publishing and Net Galley in exchanged for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company  for this review.

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The House on Windridge by Tracie Peterson – Book Review

The House on Windridge  By Tracie Peterson

Published By  Barbour Publishing, Inc.  July  01, 2016

Genres:  Christian, Romance

Pages:  320

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Rediscover this classic romance from bestselling author Tracie Peterson. Jessica is alone in the world except for her infant son. She returns to the ranch where her life began, but Jessica doesn’t know whom she can trust. Will Windridge become the home she has always longed for, or will it be the scene of her final betrayal? Also included is a bonus historical prairie romance from author Joyce Livingston.

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Story Notes

This re-release of Tracie Peterson’s poignant story of a young woman who will finally experience the love that has been missing from every relationship in her life is a must read for fans of Peterson’s books of faith, family, and true, lasting love.

Although I have read many of Tracie Peterson’s books over the years, I have somehow missed this lovely story. Jessica Albright nee Gussop has returned to the home of her birth, bringing her 9 month old son, Ryan, with high hopes of welcome and a place to truly call “Home”. Those she encounters on her arrival will both offer hope of love and challenge her assumptions and beliefs about her past. Ms. Peterson created a complicated and well-scarred young character in Jessica Albright. Her fear of trusting anyone fully and the lack of love she has experienced until now make for a story that makes your heart laugh and cry over her journey to real trust. I enjoyed seeing how Jessica began the story with solid beliefs of her father (Joseph Gussop) never loving or wanting her, that she was the only one who could care for her son if she wanted his love, and that she could never find true love for herself and yet came out with so many blessings of friends, family, and the love of a good man. Ms. Peterson also created a wonderful hero in Devon Carter, foreman of Windridge Ranch,  who worked many years for Joseph Gussop and became like the son Joseph never had. Knowing how much Joseph wanted the ranch to be a successful inheritance for Jessica, Devon has worked hard to keep the ranch going in spite of several big setbacks and problems.  Devon’s easy forgiveness of Jessica’s rudeness and  his willingness to help her find a way to return the ranch to its better days make him the man she needs to show her how to trust others and accept their love. Additionally, Ms. Peterson’s  way of having Jessica, Kate and others handle the vengeful gossip of a bitter neighbor with grace and gentle correction reminded me of how a Christian should react to an accusation of character. Buck and Kate Marcus provide good supporting characters for Jessica and Devon, gently questioning and rebuking where misconceptions run rampant and showing everyone true friendship. I loved the words Kate spoke to Jessica when she was afraid to entrust the care of Ryan to Kate when he had the measles – “Don’t let fear be the glue that binds your relationship with Ryan. Fear is a poor substitute for love”. That is a thought provoking idea for me – how do I let those I love the most be cared for and loved by someone other than myself when I am unable to see to their needs? I really found myself considering how I would react to the situations that Jessica faced and that always means I will appreciate the story that is being told. By resolving all issues raised and helping each of the characters face their trust issues and fear of rejection, Ms. Peterson ensured that I would not only love this story but look forward to adding it to my collection sometime in the near future.

There was a bonus story included with the e-book that I was sent called Lucy’s Quilt by Joyce Livingston. I was not asked to review this story but will say that it was a good story. It went well with the themes of forgiveness, trust and love that Tracie Peterson had in her book. I am always interested in seeing how an author will handle the idea of a marriage of convenience and Joyce Livingston created a story of depth that requires a reader to see that marriage of choice can become marriage of love if the persons involved are willing to work together towards that end.It was an unexpected read that I enjoyed immensely !

This e-book was provided to me at no cost by Barbour Publishing, Inc. through Net Galley for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company  for this review.

Reluctant Bridesmaid by Wendy Davy – Book Review

Reluctant Bridesmaid  By Wendy Davy

Published By  White Rose Publishing/Pelican Book Group  March 03, 2011

Genres: Christian, Romance

Pages:  295

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 

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Jordan Harrison no longer trusts relationships, so when her widowed mother is swept away by a handsome, wealthy architect, Jordan fears the hasty engagement will end in disaster. After all, how well can her mother know the guy after only a few months? Intent on saving her mother from certain heartbreak, Jordan races to Breckenridge Manor to delay the wedding, but runs into more than she’s bargained for—a handsome, understanding man intent on helping her heal past wounds and open her mind to new possibilities.

Known as the man with nerves of steel, Tanner Breckenridge lives up to his reputation, but it doesn’t take long for him to discover he has a soft spot for Jordan Harrison, the daughter of his father’s future bride. Loyal to his father, but captivated by Jordan, Tanner puts his heart on the line and risks everything for a chance at love.

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Story Notes

Wendy Davy’s story of new loves and learning to trust again will leave readers with a feeling of having witnessed God at work in the lives of a soon-to-be-new family.

Jordan Harrison and Tanner Breckenridge are the main characters of this nice, faith-filled story and I quite enjoyed getting to know them. Jordan is heading to her future father’s home on a mission to stop her mother from “making the biggest mistake of her life”. She is both hurt and confused that her mother, Ellie, can so quickly become engaged to Maxwell, whom she has known such a short time. I love how real and faith challenged Wendy Davy made Jordan, fully letting her work through her trust issues and inability to let God be her steady support instead of the people around her. I found myself wondering how I would handle such a situation, would I be angry? hurt? happy? excited? With parents who have been married for 35+ years, I think I might feel much like Jordan did at the beginning when she believed that her mother had forgotten all about her dad and was moving on to a new relationship with no apparent problems. However, knowing that most people need the connection of marriage, I was glad to see how Davy worked this out in her book. Ensuring that Jordan and her mother talked in-depth and honestly about how they each felt gave this piece of the story a satisfying conclusion. But there were further pieces that were dealt with in the pages of this story of love and compassion. Tanner, Maxwell’s son, helps Jordan work through her feelings of betrayal and hurt and points her to God as the One in whom she should place her trust and Whom she should be leaning on for support. His openness about how he missed being there for his mother before she died shows Jordan that she should be careful not to let her feelings of anger and hurt get in the way of her relationship with her mother and the chance at a relationship with Maxwell. I enjoyed seeing how Tanner and Jordan slowly fell in love, despite neither one looking for each other at the beginning. This somewhat central theme made the story fun and gave me a chance to know the characters better in the way they handled their mutual attraction. Tanner has his own issues with trust that come out towards the end of the story and I loved how Jordan, who had just recently worked through her own issues was able to show Tanner that his past mistakes do not have to dictate his future choices. The themes of forgiveness and trust that were so completely woven through this story gave me pause on several occasions and made me evaluate what my response would have been given the same circumstances.

While this story did not have a lot of advanced language or challenging vocabulary, I enjoyed reading such a nice and uplifting book. I found the reminders of faith in God very good and the doctrines of forgiveness and trusting fully in God compatible with my own beliefs. I would have liked to have seen more interaction between Maxwell and Jordan. I felt he somewhat avoided her and didn’t seek to reassure her of his deep love for Ellie and herself as Ellie’s daughter. I would have also liked to see a little more interaction between Kyle, Tanner and Maxwell. Kyle’s anger towards both Maxwell and Tanner was because he was hurt and although both relationships were repaired somewhat by the end of the story, there was something missing from those resolutions that left me asking “So, what now?”

I do believe I would recommend this book to a friend, but I’m not sure its one I would purchase for my personal library. However, I would definitely recommend it to someone I knew who needed the reassurance that things will turn out well in this type of situation if one chooses to rely on God.

I received this e-book from White Rose Publishing through Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no monetary compensation from either company for this review.

Tell Me A Great Story……

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