Â Â Today I readÂ Queen (Regency Refuge Book 3). Â It was the perfect way to spend a quiet Sunday — with murder’s, thieves, cut-throats, and traitors. Â The twists and turns of this story — of the entire series, in fact — has keptÂ me on the edge of my seat, and flipping pages as fast as I could read.
Each book in the series can stand alone, but together theyÂ form a rich, suspenseful tale of spies, counter spies, traitors, friendship, loyalty, and faith. Heather Gray paints vivid word pictures that bring her characters and story to life as they struggle with faith, loyalty, trust, forgiveness, and honor.
Gray does an excellent job of making each character’s faith walk an integral part of his or her character. Â The stories never come off as preachy and their faith is never forced. Â There are currently three books in the series, book one: His Saving Grace; book two: Jackal; and book three: Queen. Â With each book the story grows more and more complicated, and more and more compelling. I don’t know what the title of book four will be, but I am sure it is coming — and I am wishing it were already here. Â I’d love to spend another day reading a Heather Gray story.
Kristin Wallace is an exceptional writer. Â I read “Imagine That (Covington Falls Chronicles) Book 3” in one afternoon — cover-to-cover — without stopping. Â I carried my eReader into the bathroom with me, and I propped it up on the drier as I folded laundry. Â I loved the story. Â I was ready to give it a 5 star review right up until the last page. Â I supposeÂ I will probably give it a five star review anyway since Amazon won’t allow me to give it a half star less, but the ending left me feeling decidedly uneasy. Â Things were brushed aside that should have been more closely examined.
You have probably read hundreds of stories, but even so, I bet you’ve yet to read the exact same story that an author wrote. Â No, I am not talking about the demands of editors and copywriters who insist on changes for this, that, or any other reason. Â Every reader — and writer — brings his or her own personal experiences and/or biases to a story. Â Every single person on this planet acts and reacts to everyone and everything else through their own personal set of filters. Â In every review I have read about Imagine That, the reviewer has said the book moved them to both tears and laughter. Â My experience was the same. Â The emotions portrayed in this book are wrenchingly real, both the good and the bad.
Imagine ThatÂ alludes toÂ memories of domestic violence. Â Thankfully the readerÂ is not subjected to the violence, but for those of us who have lived with domestic abuse (which can be physical and/or mental), a memory is all it takes to trigger real fear. Â Logically, as a mentally healthy, Â healed adult (and a writer) I can understand that after the main characters finally confessed their love for one another, Wallace wanted to tie the story up with Â a neat bow and get to the “happily Â ever after,” but I think this story’s happily-ever-after promise cameÂ at leastÂ one necessary conversation too soon.
Nate, our hero, definitely shows the potential to become an abuser. Â He also voluntarily takes steps to deal with his anger issues before he ever comes close to harming anyone. Â Those are very great signs of hope, but if Nate and Emily were real people the way this book ended would leave me with serious concernsÂ for the future of their relationship. Â Emily’s own childhood taught her to expect abuse. Â Would she be able to recognize the gradual onset if Nate did slowlyÂ give in to his darker nature? Â Â I have good reason to suspect she wouldn’t since when Nate does try to talk to her about his feelings,Â she tells him he isn’t his grandfather or his father, so they have nothing to worry about. Â They DO have something to worry about. Â Nate knew that, that’s why he sought counseling — and now he has fallen in love with an enabler. Bad, bad, bad news.
If you don’t have any of my baggage, go ahead and read the novel. Â As I said, it is a wonderful page turner right up until that one little, tiny hiccup on the last page.
*I was given a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review.
The sentence was: “The nice girl with long hair had a nice dress.” I put it on the white board and told the kids it was boring. I told them that “nice” is dead. They needed to remove “nice” and replace it with some “pop.” I said, “This sentence needs color, give me something I can “see”!” Hands shot into the air.
I wrote everything on the board as they shared it, then I said, “Okay, let’s make an interesting sentence using words that will build a picture in our minds.”
Then I took ALL of their suggestions and wrote: “The beautiful girl with the long, curly, green hair wore a sparkling pink dress, a black leather coat with dangling chains, and blue high-heeled cowboy boots.” Then I said to the kids, “Now that is a much more interesting sentence. Can you “see” her now? The kids chorused, YES!”
We contemplated the board in silence for a few seconds then one of the girls said, “Somebody better take her to the mall and help her with her fashions!” One of the boys said, “Yeah, Mr. Pointbriand needs to teach her about crashing colors!”
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Nowhere for Christmas, by Heather Gray is a laugh-out-loud story. Â I found myself chuckling often, totally captivated and delighted by the main characters. Â Avery, a newspaper reporter who has a shot at national syndication, her teenage son, Eli, and, Gavin, a photojournalist find themselves traveling to Nowhere, Oklahoma to capture a heart-warming small-town Christmas for the newspaper. Â Their rental car didn’t look like much, but they were assured it was reliable so they set their skepticism aside and pulled onto Interstate 40 full of optimism — and ptomaine poisoning, which had them pulling right back off the interstate and into a rest area. Â The entire journey was one mishap after another. Â I’m not going to spoil the journey for the reader by listing them all, better you climb into the car with Avery, Eli, and Gavin and experience the road trip with them. Â Strap on your seat belt and prepare for a wonderful ride.
Heather Gray is an excellent writer. Â As I said, this story made me laugh-out-loud and I couldn’t wait to turn the page and see what would happen next. Â I loved the spirited conversation between Avery and Eli. Â The mother-son relationship was realistic, complete with edgy tempers, smart remarks, and unconditional love. Â The attraction between Gavin and Avery unfolded slowly and naturally. Â Every character in this novel, from the bait shop mechanic (yes, I wrote that correctly, read the book you’ll understand) to the small town cop were well defined and believable. Â From beginning to end, I loved this story.
Amazon Book Blurb:
Anything can happen on the road to Nowhereâ€¦
A journalist and single mother, Avery is used to being in control though she tries to remind her-self to let God take lead in her life. Eli, her son, is happy as long as he has his music, plenty of food, and the occasional adult on which to practice his rapier wit. Gavin, a virtual stranger, is a photojournalist who mysteriously dropped off the scene a few years ago.
The trio ends up together for a Christmas road trip to the small town of Nowhere. An eight hour drive in a rental car turns into two days of misadventure and calamity as bad luck seems to stalk them. They get a flat tire, the bumper falls off, the car overheats â€“ and that’s only the beginning! Along the way they meet some interesting people â€“ from a bait shop owner who moonlights as a mechanic to a chatty preacher’s wife and a highway patrolman whose wife and mother can’t agree on the best way to remove a skunk’s stink.
Hungry, cold, and tired, the three finally reach Nowhere only to discover the town is nothing like they expected. They learn that reaching their destination doesn’t necessarily mean the journey has ended.
About the Author (Amazon Bio):
Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.
Astraea Press is a royalty paying e-publisher dedicated to supplying clean reading material to an eager public. I bought this book with my own monies. This review was not purchased and reflects my honest, unsolicited opinion.
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