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Book reviews: 7 stories offer clean mysteries, suspense with a touch of romance

From the U.S. Northwest to England, these 3 novels and compilation of 4 novellas offer danger, plot twists and a little love along the way

“Secrets Never Die” is by Laurie Lewis. “Catherine’s Intrigue” is by Paige Edwards. “Mistaken Reality” is by Traci Hunter Abramson. “Entangled” includes novellas by Stephanie Black, Clair M. Poulson, Gregg Luke and Traci Hunter Abramson
Book cover images provided by Covenant Communications

These novels share mystery and suspense — with a touch of romance — from the U.S. Northwest to England by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

SECRETS NEVER DIE,” by Laurie Lewis, Covenant Communications, $17.99, 320 pages (f)

Tallie Brown’s childhood was anything but normal. Forced to move from one third-world location to another, life settled down when her mother, Julia, took a job on a Pacific Northwest mountaintop seven years ago as “Secrets Never Die” opens.

“Secrets Never Die” is by Laurie Lewis.
Covenant Communications
Laurie Lewis is the author of “Secrets Never Die.”
Provided by Covenant Communications

But when Julia dies unexpectedly, Tallie learns there may be more to their lives than she previously believed. Given not much more than an old photograph and a warning to not trust anyone, Tallie embarks on a mission to unravel her mother’s secrets.

Reporter Jackson James is trying to rehabilitate his journalistic notoriety after a huge mistake all but ruined his career prospects. While working as the editor for a smaller local paper, he receives a call that could revive his professional life. However, the story lead came from the man partially responsible for Jackson’s previous demise.

Reluctant, but with a hefty bank wire to his account, Jackson decides to work the story without much information to go on, with the hope he can resurrect his journalism career.

Tallie’s and Jackson’s searches both lead them to Cutler’s Ridge, a small coal town in Virginia. While Tallie cautiously searches for answers, she’s met with more cold shoulders than friendly receptions. As she works to solve the mystery of her past, she discovers there are many more stories in this tiny town besides her own.

As Jackson digs through leads that will help him with his news story, he finds the answer is much more complicated than expected. Not only that, but his research and Tallie’s past may be more intertwined than either could have imagined — and the people of Cutler’s Ridge want to keep all their secrets.

Laurie Lewis takes readers on an unforgettable ride of mystery, suspense and danger, with a hint of romance. With well-thought-out characters and plots that intertwine, readers will be immersed in this small town’s mystery and past.

Secrets Never Die” does not contain profanity or sexual content. There is some mild, not graphic, described violence pertaining to war and murder.

— Wendy Jessen

CATHERINE’S INTRIGUE,” by Paige Edwards, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 311 pages (f)

Jet-lagged and newly arrived in England, Catherine Pressley-Coombes is not accustomed to driving on the left side of the road. When she accidentally drives her brother’s car into a ditch near the Cotswolds, the two are rescued by a man she’s instantly drawn to in “Catherine’s Intrigue.”

“Catherine’s Intrigue” is by Paige Edwards.
Covenant Communications

Nick Davidson, also known throughout Europe as Lord Ainsley, feels the same connection as Catherine and determines to get to know her. After realizing her interest in architectural history, he volunteers to set up a tour of his home and help with her genealogy search.

As Catherine and Nick spend more time together, the two realize they are deeply in love. But only Catherine is aware how problematic their differences in religion are. A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catherine is determined to only marry a member of her church in the temple. Nick, on the other hand, has long ago given up on God.

Theodosia Stanhope has been plotting for years on how to supplement her income. After murdering her cousin, she discovers the newly arrived American woman, Catherine, could derail her plans. Although Catherine is unaware the two share an ancestor, Theodosia understands well that if Catherine’s genealogy search is successful, she will no longer be heiress to a sizable fortune. As Theodosia’s panic grows, so does her willingness to stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

Author Paige Edwards has written a dynamite novel. From her well-written characters to the continual plot twists, “Catherine’s Intrigue” is not easy to put down. Following both the danger and romance in Catherine’s life can ensure hours of heart-pumping and spine-tingling thrills.

“Catherine’s Intrigue” has clean language and romance that doesn’t go beyond kissing. This novel deals with the subject of human trafficking but without going into detail.

Edwards graduated from BYU-Idaho and lives in the United States near five major Civil War battlefields

— Elizabeth Reid

MISTAKEN REALITY,” by Traci Hunter Abramson, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 300 pages (f)

In “Mistaken Reality,” young schoolteacher Hadley Baker is in shock after her boyfriend, Spencer, finally asks her to a dinner date at an expensive hotel. Her happiness soon gives way to grief when he proceeds to break up with her after finding out she wants children and he doesn’t.

“Mistaken Reality” is by Traci Hunter Abramson.
Covenant Communications
Traci Hunter Abramson is the author of “Mistaken Reality.”
Provided by Covenant Communications

She retreats to the women’s restroom to try to compose herself when a stranger appears and forcibly removes her from the premises. Only seconds later, the building explodes. It is soon revealed that the stranger was an FBI agent named JD Byers and the explosion turned out to be a bomb. Hadley and JD are all right, but many questions linger.

Hadley’s ex-boyfriend soon becomes a lead suspect and the plot thickens even more when the man ends up dead. With Spencer gone, Hadley herself winds up being a target and JD tries his best to protect her.

In the process of meeting each other, romantic sparks fly between Hadley and JD but he hesitates in a bid to keep things professional. Now joined together to seek the truth behind the bombing, the pair work to save others before it’s too late.

“Mistaken Reality” is the latest entry from prolific novelist Traci Hunter Abramson. An Arizona native and three-time Whitney Awards recipient for best mystery/suspense novel, Abramson worked for the CIA for six years and many of her books have characters who work for the FBI or CIA. The Whitney Awards honor novels by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Mistaken Reality” is another solid offering from Abramson. She doesn’t waste any time, starting the story off with a literal explosion and keeps up the momentum throughout. The characters of Hadley and JD are likable and easy to root for. “Mistaken Reality” was fun to read and proved entertaining.

The book contains some violence and peril, but is devoid of swearing and sexual content.

— Ryan Curtis

ENTANGLED,” by Stephanie Black, Clair M. Poulson, Gregg Luke and Traci Hunter Abramson, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 384 pages (f)

While the four novellas in “Entangled” serve up different plots, each is a suspenseful read. Characters range from those serving in law enforcement to newlyweds and each story presents its thrills in diverse ways.

“Entangled” includes four novellas from Stephanie Black, Clair M. Poulson, Gregg Luke and Traci Hunter Abramson,
Covenant Communications
“Entangled” includes four novellas from Traci Hunter Abramson, top left and clockwise, Clair M. Poulson, Stephanie Black and Gregg Luke.
Provided by Covenant Communications

In “Bridge of Trust,” FBI agent Ethan Flanagan is tasked with protecting a woman whose ex-husband will stop at nothing to kidnap his sons and silence her forever. While it has a great plot, the dialogue between characters in “Bridge of Trust” is so grammatically correct that it comes across as forced instead of natural. However, author Traci Hunter Abramson is great at interspersing hints of romance between the literal battles of good and evil.

The law enforcement theme continues in “Corrupted” when Lt. Jay Tanstall is tasked with looking into police department corruption. While the plot is fabulous, author Clair M. Poulson doesn’t seem to know what to do with one of his characters and consistently places her in either a state of unconsciousness or emotional tears. Also, the happy ending seems forced and abrupt.

“Insidious,” the third novella, is about U.S. 2000 Olympic hopeful Andrew Miner being struck by a mysterious disease and how his pharmacist wife, Taryn, uses her medical knowledge to help solve his illness. Although Gregg Luke’s characters are believable, his heavy-handed usage of medical and pharmacological terms bogs the storyline down.

Finally, Stephanie Black’s “Something Beautiful for Something Evil” opens when newlywed Kate Durham is asked to spy on her boss. When a murder occurs, the two must decide who is friend or foe before death strikes again. Black’s novella is a wonderful, suspenseful read and a magnificent way to end “Entanglement.”

All four novellas have clean language and only minor romance. These thrillers also contain shootouts, death, betrayal, and one novella deals with sex trafficking. However, details are minor and difficult subjects are dealt with softly.

— Elizabeth Reid