Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Master's Wall, by Sandi Rog (DeWard Publishing)

(Click cover for more information)

This is a keeper.

Ms. Rog skillfully blends coming-of-age, social inequity and tested faith into a delightful, heart-rending tale of courage, failure and redemption. Sound exhausting? Not in the least.

Alethea's father is executed by his own father for confessing faith in Yeshua. Her mother, brother, and she move into grandfather's villa, where Alethea meets David, a house slave. She becomes attracted to David, who views her as the younger sister he failed to protect when he was forced into slavery. As Alethea and David stumble into and through adolescence, their fumbling relationship travels an equally rough road to maturity. That maturity presents its own problems, as there is no socially acceptable resolution to their blossoming love for each other.

Finally, confronted with Alethea's forced betrothal to arrogant Demetri, the plot reaches critical mass and they must act--and quickly. But what can they possibly do to resolve an impossible dilemma such as this? Hmmm.

Ms. Rog has done her homework on the physical and social environment in 1st-century Rome. The reader learns a lot about a coarse society that, while successfully imposing Pax Romana onto the known world of that day, fails to deliver inner peace to its own citizenry. More wonderful, though, is her ability to capture this world through the eyes of an naive, immature girl growing up through issues no one of her age should have to face. The result is a humorous, frustrating, painfully realistic portrayal of emotional growth and spiritual awakening. One moment you want to hug Alethea to death, the next moment you want to turn her over your knee. So does David.

Delightful also is Ms. Rog's prose. She has a gift for subtle word painting that raises the reading experience to a new level. Just read her rendering of Aletha's betrothal ceremony. If you don't chuckle aloud, you've missed something.

The Master's Wall is the first in the "Iron and the Stone" series. Looking forward to number two!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deceive Me Once, by Valerie Massey Goree (Parson Place Press)


Maricella "Chella" McDonough has a secret, one that's been eating at her for her entire adult life. Her husband Tom is none the wiser, nor are their two grown sons Jóse and Mike. But it's time for the secret to come out--prodded into the open by the body of a young woman that mysteriously ends up on Chella's property. A body linked to her past.

So begins a tale of intrigue and suspense, aptly entitled Deceive Me Once, for, indeed, once is all it takes. Once to bare one's soul, once to risk one's life and once to seek forgiveness.

Ms. Goree sets her story in the Hill Country of south-central Texas, not far from San Antonio. The land is rugged, in its own way beautiful, and often unforgiving. So is the tale she tells.

When Chella embarks on a covert mission to uncover the mystery surrounding a half-heart necklace found on the girl's body, more than solving a crime is at stake. She forces herself back in time to a horrific event she not only witnessed, but believes she caused: the death of her parents and the destruction of life she knew as a teenager. Aided by her godly and faithful daughter-in-law Teresa, Chella begins step by step to unravel the true circumstances surrounding the childhood tragedy and begins healing those wounds self inflicted so long ago. But there's more to Ms. Goree's story.

As is so true with deceit, Chella is not the only one affected by it. Her unconfessed sin has created a rift in the areas that matter the most: her marriage, her family and her faith. The question is whether she can untangle herself from the spiritual-emotional tenacles that have embedded themselves in her mind and her heart over the past 25 years. The answer to that question does not lie in this review, it lies between the covers of Deceive Me Once.

Look there for it. You'll be glad you did.