Christian fiction, Christian suspense

Book & Cover Review of "Beguiled" by Deeanne Gist, J. Mark Bertrand

Who is framing the dogwalker in historical Charleston, South Carolina’s most elite neighborhood?

 Book Review

This was my first opportunity to read a novel with input from author Mark Bertrand, but I am very familiar with Deanne Gist’s historical romance novels.  The contemporary setting is well-done, yet Deeanne has still been able to interweave bit’s of Charleston’s history into the family background of the heroine dog walker and her clients. This book leaves you wondering, not only who is doing the crimes, but just who is stalking the dog walker from the very first chapter.  I will say that I did have an inkling early on which person it was going to be, but several red herrings were thrown in along the way to make it possible to be wrong …

This book is a great easy read, a page-turner in fact – but not deeply spiritual.  A spiritual element is interwoven, but it is done in a fashion that even those who aren’t very spiritual, or who haven’t often attended a church, could relate to the inner faith struggles of the characters. For this reason, I would say older teens and adults would find this book an interesting read.  There is a romantic element to the story, but it is handled in such a way that I think even boys/men would enjoy this novel – unlike some romance novels that more obviously target a female audience.

This novel is a great easy-to-read suspense novel that will help you get lost into someone else’s life struggles – but will not overly make you reflect on your own spirituality. I found it a great bed-time novel – leaving me wondering about plot twists, instead of my to do list as I turned off the lights for the night. 

Book Cover Review

 The red ornately-fringed curtain and the gilded door frame on the front cover help to establish a feeling of oppulance and old-world charm – very fitting for this novel, which is set in a historical district full of wealthy families. I also like that they have chosen to give the woman pictured the same hair-style described in the novel.  What I do question is the outfit she is wearing?  It might have fit the book better to have her wearing something she actually would have walked dogs in?  Instead of the dog walker she looks more like the home’s owner.

I do like that they used a light colored outfit so that more attention was drawn to her surroundings, but question the style of the outfit itself.  I’m remembering her wearing a lot of outdoorsy clothing and ear buds?  Perhaps she might also have a leash in her hands, or be holding a smaller dog?  This cover will appeal to Deeanne’s romance fans, but if they wanted to grow into a new contemporary suspense audience they might have been better served to show her wearing cut-offs, t-shirt and ear buds with one of the dogs somehow?

Additionally, on the back cover is a beautiful close up of a key.  Although I personally love old keys, and that element does reflect the historical district aspect of the novel – to better portray the suspense and fear surrounding the neighborhood and the main character I would have chosen a door that also had a chain etc., to relay that an old-fashioned key just wasn’t enough protection in this neighborhood anymore?

A beautiful cover, but I’m not sure it is as strong as it could have been to reach out beyond the historical romance readership and into the more typically male suspense readership.

* This book was provided for review by the Bethany House Book Review program.

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