Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Book Spotlight: Unknown by Vanessa Hall

About the Book:

He knew there was a cost. He just didn’t know how great it’d be.

Gabriel Kelly returned to Russia for one reason—to bury his parents. After ten years in the United States, he hadn’t expected to return to his childhood home in the face of tragedy. However, after short days in Moscow, he begins to consider if the same call that cost his parents’ lives is now upon him.

Sofia Rykova’s dreams finally came true when she became a principal soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet. One night, though, an old crush walks back into her life, making her wonder if there is more to life than ballet. Gabe Kelly is just as she remembered, just as she longed for—yet religion stands between them.

Unknown to Gabe and Sofia, danger lurks closer than either would have guessed. The deaths of Gabe’s parents grow more suspicious by the day, and Gabe and Sofia are drawn into the midst of a plot neither can escape. Will obedience to God’s call—in spite of their fears and desires—result in a price too steep to bear?

Purchase at: Amazon.


            Life rolled on. Nothing stopped, nothing changed … even when his world had slammed to a jarring halt.

            The city lights pricked through the dark of night, a night that threatened to swallow up the entirety of the city. Cars slid by on the street below the hotel, each carrying a passenger to his destination.

            A demanding buzz cut through the silence, and a sigh gathered as Gabe turned from the window. The phone he’d thrown on the bed had been blowing up these last few days. Stupid thing.

His sigh broke free as he pivoted back to the window. Probably Mr. Mathers inquiring about another client. Gabe should just pick up the phone and tell the man he was on leave. He was not working right now. He couldn’t.

Yet Mr. Mathers didn’t understand that some things came before work. That making a profit was not the most important thing in life.

Oh, there was so much more to life—and it’d taken this to make him realize it.

            He’d been sitting in his new desk chair at the office, printers humming nearby, keyboards ticking from each cubicle. He’d just gotten off the phone with a would-be client, and the phone had rung again. He hadn’t even glanced at the number.

            “Gabriel? I—I have some very bad news.”

            The Russian words had jolted him, had churned the coffee in his stomach. “What is it, Sergei?”

            The head deacon of Mom and Dad’s church plant had paused for long moments. Then his words had traveled those thousands of miles and shattered Gabe’s world.

“Your parents were found dead early this morning.”

            Somehow, he hadn’t lost his breakfast on the desk. Somehow, he’d mumbled something to Sergei, assured him he’d be on the next plane to Moscow.

Then he’d hung up, shaking uncontrollably as he’d choked back sobs that would grip him short minutes later.

 It’d been two years since the week he’d visited Mom and Dad, and only this year, he’d gotten enough vacation from work to plan another trip.

Now they were dead. Dead.

            The funeral this afternoon had sealed it. Sergei’s reddened eyes and hearty but mute embrace spoke more than words. Every churchgoer, grasping his hands, pressing kisses to his cheeks, offering tearful apologies, drove the reality home.

            He’d never see Dad again. Never see Mom again.

They were gone.

He lowered his head, his fists clenching as the gaping hole tore at his chest. Tears burned the backs of his eyes—as if he hadn’t cried enough in the past three days.

            “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live …”

             “Yes.” The word rasped over his raw throat. Yes, he had to believe that. Had to cling to that, even when everything else was so muddled.

He dragged in a breath. They were gone … but they were alive. Mom and Dad were in heaven with the Savior they’d served so faithfully. And he would see them again, just not on this earth.

            That was comfort. That was truth. But even those faithful promises didn’t stop the questions.

Why? Why would God take such good people? Hadn’t they given their lives to His service and risked so much for the Russian people for more than two decades?

And they’d died in a random burglary?

            He turned from the window, swiping at his grainy eyes. “Help me, Lord. I don’t know …”

            He sank onto the bed. He didn’t know anything. How was he supposed to function when his parents lay in their graves—lay in this cold city they’d sacrificed so much for—with two bullet holes in their bodies?                       

He groaned and buried his face in his hands.

The Bible said the Lord worked all things out for the good of those who loved Him.

Even this?

                His throat seized, and his eyes went back to stinging. Dad had preached a sermon on the topic the last time Gabe had been in the city.

            “There’s going to come a time when you and I look around us, and we’re not going to understand. But the Lord understands—and He will use every situation, good or bad, for our good. For His glory. And that is why we never despair, why we never fear, and why we always hold firm to our faithful Lord.”

            Dad’s voice, deeper than his own and filled with so much compassion, so much love, so much faith.

            Mom and Dad wouldn’t be doubting God’s Ways. Dad would be praying. Mom would be singing a hymn. And they’d tell him to do the same.

            Yet they couldn’t tell him a thing.

About the Author:

Vanessa Hall is an author, musician, and homeschool graduate. Most days, she is reading, writing, or practicing the violin—or trying to find time for all three pursuits. Currently, she is working toward gaining a degree in instrumental music education. Unknown is her debut novel. Above all, she is a sinner saved and held fast by the abounding grace of Jesus Christ.

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