Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Book Review: Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock

About the Book:

One father was murdered. Another was convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.
Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado hometown. His mother begs him to come back now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.
Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down not long after, people assumed Nate set the fire to get even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left town without looking back.
Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and now she’s fighting a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. Brenna is barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.
As Nate and Brenna deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—the past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

My Thoughts:

Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock surprised me. I’m normally not into crime-suspense-romance novels, but my local book club chose Smoke Screen as its monthly selection. I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed this novel. It has suspense, mystery, and the expected investigative aspect, but it also has emotional depth and character development.

There were so many things I liked about Smoke Screen. First, it hooked me right from the beginning and I didn’t want to put the book down. I read it in less than 24 hours which is rare for me. Part of its appeal lies in how much I could relate to Brenna. My children are the same age as hers are in the story and I couldn’t imagine going through what she did. Her raw, imperfect character felt very authentic as she struggled through a difficult divorce, personal vices, and spiritual wandering.  Second, I love a good second-chance love story. While Brenna and Nate’s romance wasn’t the focus of the novel, I cheered for them to get together. Third, the challenging circumstances provided depth to the story. The novel doesn’t gloss over difficult family issues and dynamics, but every issue is laced with hope for the future.

I recommend Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock to readers looking for a captivating mystery filled with spiritual themes and character growth. It’s a keeper for my bookshelf!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

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