Marji Laine review:
Dana Mentink weaves a gripping mystery, a riveting romance, and a hovering cloud of suspense in her new Love Inspired novel, Hazardous Homecoming.
Twenty years have passed since Ruby Hudson's best friend, Alice, disappeared in the bird sanctuary that surrounded the Hudson home. A newly-found piece of evidence rips open the emotional scab, bubbling up guilt, suspicions, pain, and regret. The reopened case seems to also have set someone against Ruby. Someone with something to hide and no compunction with taking drastic measures to keep those secrets under wraps.
Twenty years ago, Cooper Stokes's family was practically destroyed when his older brother, Peter, was blamed for kidnapping little Alice. Peter sank into an alcoholic muddle to escape the way the entire town turned on him, but nothing offered proof that he had anything to do with the tragedy.
Returning to the area is hard enough for Cooper, even with his brother's latest assurance of his sobriety, especially with Ruby still around. He'd always been interested, but her father warned her away from anyone in the Stokes family. The re-stirring of the story ignites again his anger at the injustice of it all. Yet doubt over his brother's story rises to the surface as well.
Can anything be more tragic than the loss of a child? Naturally, this story evokes intense emotion. If for no other reason, that part of the story demands constant page-turning. But add to the a cast of doubt-provoking characters with bitter resentment floating just under the surface.
Dana Mentink is truly a master at her craft. Her plots are some of the most engaging that I've ever read. Never have I been able to pre-solve one of her mysteries. And this one is no exception.
As delightful as her plots are, her characters might even be better. Cooper Stokes makes an exceptional hero. He has the strength and speed of an athlete, but the sharp intellect to be intentional in his actions instead of reacting blindly. While he defends his brother, he's also judgmental of him and struggles with anger. Yet, he has a playful, engaging personality.
Likewise, Ruby Hudson has a deep character. Independent in her words, she's submissive and respectful of her father, never resenting, (or maybe not realizing) her dad's overprotective manner. Her passion for nature, birds in particular, brings a special element to this story, and gives her purpose beyond the plot. She also struggles with guilt in the way Peter Stokes was treated, but more feels devastated over reliving the pain of losing her childhood friend.
I loved this book. Couldn't put it down, much like the first of Dana's books that I read. Jungle Fire was a Carol award winner, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that Hazardous Homecoming follows suit.
Marji Laine, Senior Reviewer, is an avid NASCAR, college football, and volleyball fan, and autumn is her favorite season. She has collaborated on a number of published romance novellas that are listed on Goodreads and her Amazon author page. Her blog, Faith Driven Fiction, posts reviews, interviews, and writer focused articles as well as analysis of popular movies with a Biblical World view. Find her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+.