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  • Great Romantic Suspense

    This is a story of two young people whose love ended because of the objections of their parents but it is so much more. It is also a story of mistaken guilt, infidelity, a custody battle, and alcoholism. Author Terri Blackstock spins a tale filled with suspense and corruption and it is hard to put it down. Brenna Strickland Hertzog's fight to keep her children is a situation that happens much too often and I suffered along with her as she battled her ex-husband, his new wife, and her wealthy ex-father-in-law. As her life spirals out of control, Brenna seeks to numb herself with alcohol. Nate Beckett has returned to his hometown to recuperate from work injuries and as I learned more about smoke jumping, I could understand why all these brave people need to be named American heroes. It soon becomes apparent that Nate's feelings for Brenna never really ended but Brenna's only focus is keeping her children with her. As Nate steps in to help, they both struggle and their faith is often tested. Author Terri Blackstock proves her amazing ability to show their doubts and uncertainties and we readers are reminded that God is ever present in our lives, even when we don't understand His plan and His timing. Brenna goes from a doubting belief: "The best I could do was hang on and pray like mad. But I doubted that God was listening to me anymore" to unwavering faith: "God had answered my prayers. He was still listening. He did care." Smoke Screen is heartwarming, it is exciting, and it is inspiring. It also a book that requires tissues--lots of tissues! I recommend it to all who enjoy romantic suspense and Christian fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book via Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. A favorable review was not required and all opinions are mine.

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  • Smart and Well-conceived!

    Smoke Screen is a smart new mystery from bestselling author, Terri Blackstock. Brenna Strickland Hertzog is a divorced single mom with a drinking problem she tries to hide. She’s resentful of her narcissistic ex-husband. Brenna has returned to her hometown after a contentious divorce, with no thought that her teenage sweetheart would move in across the street. Nate Beckett is a smoke jumper injured while saving a family from a fire. He has returned to his hometown to heal while he is on a one month medical leave. His brother tells him that Brenna is back in town and lives across the street. Any renewed relationship or friendship between Nate and Brenna is going to be difficult, because Nate’s father has just been pardoned for the murder of Brenna’s father fourteen years ago. Further complicating the situation is the accusation that Nate burned down the church where Brenna’s father had been the pastor. Neither family is supportive of a relationship between the two, though Nate and Brenna are developing a friendship that seems to be moving toward a more serious commitment. Smoke Screen is a well-written mystery. The story is revealed through the alternating viewpoints of the primary characters, Brenna and Nate. This can sometimes be tricky and confusing to the reader but is handled appropriately through chapter headers. The characters are fully-fleshed and relatable, if not likable. The plot twists are well-conceived and executed. The romantic aspects add an element of distraction from the tense plot. The Christian themes were of particular interest to me and revealed the strengths and weaknesses of some of the characters. I enjoyed this novel from start to finish. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to readers who enjoy mysteries with a little romance. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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  • Gripping romantic suspense

    I have loved Terri Blackstock's books since I first read her Restoration series many years ago, so I was looking forward to reading Smoke Screen and was not disappointed in the least. Blackstock is a master at writing suspense. And woven into the suspense and action in this book is a thread of faith--a faith that trusts God to bring about second chances. Blackstock has permeated her story with drama, and emotional tension as she expertly and realistically deals with the family dramas that arise with the issues of alcoholism and child custody. She also tackles the gritty subject of wrong imprisonment for murder and subsequent pardon and how that effects the family members involved on both sides of the crime. And if the falsely accused person didn't do it, who did? Nate and Brenna's teenage love began the tragedies that ensued. Would they find love again or would the unfolding dramas of their lives draw them apart again? I enjoyed the tidbits of information regarding firefighting that the author wrote about. I was quickly drawn into the story and my interest was held high through the entire story. Readers who enjoy intense family drama and suspenseful romance stories will not want to miss Smoke Screen. I received a complimentary copy of this book via CelebrateLit. A favorable review was not required and opinions are my own. This review is part of a CelebrateLit blog tour.

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  • ADRENALINE OVERLOAD!

    SMOKE SCREEN is the latest evidence of Terri Blackstock’s Award winning writing skills. She continues to be masterful in the art of creating characters that are believable, plots that are dynamic from beginning to end, descriptions of setting that make you feel as though you’re right where the action is taking place and subject matter that is timely, easily understood and relatable. This is the story of uncontrolled wildfires - 1) the kind involving REAL FIRE that scorches absolutely everything in its path and 2) the kind involving FIRE FROM THE TONGUE that also scorches absolutely everything in its path. Both are horrible. One takes years to recover from. One may never see restoration from the devastation that has taken place. Most everyone is familiar with the old English-language children’s rhyme that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones But words will never harm me.” We also know that nothing can be further from the TRUTH! Some things can be said about you when you’re young and you can’t outlive the LIE! The characters in Smoke Screen deal with both types of these Wildfires. Blackstock showcases her writing skills as she cleverly weaves her plot around these Wildfires. She shows the effects on individuals, their families and their town. She shows the effects many years later. Blackstock writes of greed, power, insensitivity, hatred, misplaced loyalty, deceit and also shows how love NEVER fails. I was provided an complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and without influence.

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  • Who really murdered the preacher?

    The author has once again done a masterful job of leaving you guessing throughout the whole book. I must admit I had decided the guilt lay with others before the actual perpetrator was discovered. Nate has been a Smoke Jumper for several years, in fact, he has his own crew to work with. The job of these professional Hotshots has much danger associated with it, but it is one that the world certainly cannot do without. While getting burned is not something that happens regularly, it can happen and the healing requires a great deal of patience. Brenna is a single mother who is in an ugly custody battle. Unfortunately her faith, that has always been a strong point in her life, has left her with many doubts. Why is God out to get her? Why did He let her dad get murdered? Many questions but all seem to put the blame on God. But who created the distance? Once she realizes that this chasm is her own creation, she can start to bridge that gap. But will it be enough to maintain custody of her children? I highly recommend this book! This ARC was received through Thomas Nelson, NetGalley and CelebrateLit. The comments and impressions are my own and were in no way solicited.

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