Friday, January 29, 2010

Thicker Than Blood by C.J. Darlington

book cover

Thicker Than Blood
by C.J. Darlington

Trade Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Tyndale
First Released: 2009

Author Website
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Source: Review copy from the publisher

Back Cover Description:
Christy Williams never imagined that a stolen Hemingway first edition would lead her back to the sister she left fifteen years ago. But when things begin to unravel, she finds herself on May's ranch doorstep, fearing for her life.

After a bittersweet reunion, will the two discover that some hurts can't be healed, or is there a tie that's thicker than blood?

Thicker Than Blood was an enjoyable, fast-paced Christian fiction about reconciliation. The world-building was excellent, and the details about the antiquarian book selling trade and ranching (and everything else) brought the world alive in my imagination.

I liked that it wasn't typical Christian fiction in that Christy was introduced getting pulled over for drunk driving. At the beginning, among other things, she was often drunk, smoked, had slept with her past boyfriends, and had just broken up with an abusive boyfriend not interested in letting her go. And her life was about to hit rock bottom as her past caught up to her.

I was a disappointed, though, that the characters didn't feel entirely realistic. For example, we're told that Christy is 33 and has seen the worst of life. Yet during the confrontation that eventually led to her having to go to May's, she acted like an extremely naive 18-year-old. Once at May's, she was back to being cynical and worldly. Not to mention that both Hunter and Christy had every reason to hate the bad guy and both knew he wasn't trustworthy, yet Christy was shocked and surprised and Hunter initially completely taken in by what he did.

I also felt like we were only getting the surface thoughts of the characters; thoughts would pop up that the character apparently had been thinking all along, but the reader didn't know it.

Part of the reason I was disappointed, though, was that the rest of the book was so well written. The novel was actually very good for a debut.

The first two-thirds of the book didn't have much God-talk, but the end had more, including a preacher preaching in a church. Though none of the God-talk was condemning or "get your act together, horrible sinner!", I suspect the book may still exasperate non-Christians.

There was no explicit sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend the novel as well-written, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Christy Williams didn’t see the cop until his red lights flashed in her rearview mirror. By then it was too late. He was tailing her, and she had no choice but to ease her Honda Accord onto the snowy shoulder of the freeway and let the cruiser slide in behind.

Jerking up the emergency brake, she threw herself back into her seat with a curse. She hadn’t been speeding. She was sure of it. Christy forced herself to focus on the cruiser, squinting to see past its blinding headlights. She could barely make out the cop’s silhouette behind the wheel. What was he doing?

At last the burly officer emerged from the patrol car, approaching slowly, his hand resting on his holster. Christy put down her window, and a blast of frigid night air hit her face and rolled across her lap.

“Turn the car off, ma’am.”

She did.

“I need your license, registration, and proof of insurance.”

“What’d I do?” She fumbled for the items, then handed them to the cop. The name tag opposite his badge read T. Jones.

Jones glanced at them with a smirk. He gave one back. “License. Not grocery card.”

Christy flushed as she flipped through her wallet again. Real smooth. She finally found her license and passed it to the cop. He took it with the other cards to his patrol car. What was this all about? Had she been swerving? She quickly crunched down on two fresh squares of peppermint Dentyne Ice. Deep breath now. Chew. It’s just a routine stop. My taillight’s probably out. No need to panic. He doesn’t know.

Without the engine on, the car turned cold fast. Christy zipped up her fleece jacket and checked the cop again. After a minute his door opened, and her pulse kicked up a notch. Please. Let this be nothing. She couldn’t face any more disappointment tonight.

Read the rest of chapter one.

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