Monday, February 2, 2015

Terri Blackstock: Twisted Innocence

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy: 

Holly Cramer’s past choices have finally caught up to her, but she never expected them to endanger her baby.

Though Holly’s stumbled through most of her adult life as a party girl, she longs to live a more stable life for her daughter. Then police show up to question her about the whereabouts of Creed Kershaw, Lily’s father. She has kept his identity a secret from friends and family—she never even told him about the pregnancy.

Now he’s a person of interest in a drug-related murder case.

Determined to keep him out of their lives and turn him over to police, Holly uses her private investigating skills to search for him. But her bravado backfires when he turns the tables and takes her and the baby hostage. As desperate hours tick by, Holly realizes his connection to Leonard Miller—the man who has gunned down several members of her family. Creed claims he’s innocent and that Miller is after him too. His gentleness with Lily moves her, but she can’t trust a man who has held her at gunpoint . . . even if he reminds her so much of herself.

Dangers old and new threaten Holly and her baby, and lives are demanded as sacrifices for love. Through a complex web of mistakes and regret, redemption is the one hope Holly has left to hold on to.

My Thoughts: 

I really enjoyed the previous two books in the Moonlighter Series, Truth-Stain Lies and Distortions, which featured Cathy, Juliet, Holly, and Jay Cramer, and their current dilemmas. Even though Holly had a huge part in the first two novels, it was not her story; Twisted Innocence was. In Twisted Innocence, there was a continuation of the strong characterizations and their interactions that I loved so much in the first two novels. As for being a suspense book, Blackstock leans toward keeping her readers guessing, wondering if the main characters will survive the onslaught of evil deeds directed against them. Twisted Innocence had everything I love about romantic suspense. Nail-biting tension, chemistry between the hero and heroine, and the lead character’s life put in deadly peril while the villain may or may not pay for his/her crimes.

The writing was concise and strong. Relying on Holly’s internal voice, readers experienced her fears, uncertainty, and struggles. There was no point of view shifts, and the plot moved seamlessly along. And once again, Blackstock creates vivid, lifelike characters. Holly and Creed Kershaw were developed enough that they could exist in real life. They have flaws and doubts while striving financially and spiritually. In the past, both of them grabbled with drugs but now have Lilly to raise, so their worlds intertwine into one. As for the secondary characters, Cathy, Juliet, and Michael, who were the main characters in the first two books, Blackstock does a good job at using them to round out the plot and to strengthen Holly as a heroine.

The pace and tension of the book was just right. Each individual scene flowed naturally into the next one, allowing the readers to forget they were sitting down reading a story, not watching the action occur around them. The strands of suspense and romance weaved together easily not allowing the readers to gasp for air. Right from the first scene, Blackstock grabbed the reader and did not let go until the end by throwing internal and external dilemmas at Holly and Creed to strengthen their relationship: physically, spiritually, and mentally. As for the romantic tension, Holly and Creed’s daughter, Lily, may have driven them together, but as the story progressed, so did the attraction, trust, and love for one another deepened as the outward struggles heightened. 

Another great strength of Blackstock is her ability to create a realistic view of the drug environment as it affects families. Blackstock created another series, The Intervention series, where she also dealt with the affect of narcotics on not just the person taking them, but the other family members.  By having the setting in modern day Florida, Blackstock allows the reader to imagine the story happening in their own backyard, either in the big city or small town America. It doesn’t matter; drug use affects everyone. By weaving doubt from past issues of drugs use, Blackstock tied in the spiritual theme of redemption and a modern take on the prodigal son. I, personally, enjoyed how Blackstock shows the importance of acceptance for everyone, even if they had a dangerous past.

Readers who are unfamiliar with the romantic suspense genre may object to the glimpse into the drug trade. The opening chapter shows the horrible affects of meth use by providing a sad glimpse into the narcotic environment with the condemned houses and the physical deformities. Blackstock does include a scene where a young lady shoots heroine directly into her vein. Later, a shoot-out with police officers occurs, but the moment was not described in great detail.

Twisted Innocence was a great page-turner for mature audiences and fans of the romantic suspense genre. There is enough romantic tension and moments of nail-biting tension to feed our obsession. The story kept my constant attention, hoping that Holly and Creed would end up together. I highly recommend Twisted Innocence to readers of romantic suspense or fans of a good read.

Terri Blackstock rounds out her Moonlighters Series with a thrilling, action packed plot in her latest romantic suspense novel. Returning to the Cramer siblings, Blackstock grips the readers with realistic characterization, harrowing danger, and swoon-worthy romance. Twisted Innocence is a modern take on the story of the prodigal son, set against a grisly background of drugs and personal choices.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

I received a complimentary copy of Twisted Innocence from Zondervan Publishing via NetGalley and the above opinions are all my own. 

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