Sunday, October 24, 2010

‘Don’t Look Back’ by Lynette Eason – Book Review

Buzz this

In my neck of the woods (the Metro Detroit area), it is starting to get cold; we are having our first freeze warning around here. This is perfect weather to curl up with a good book that gets the spine a tingling. The latest book for me of that ilk is ‘Don’t Look Back’ by Lynette Eason.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

One Man Lives to See Her Dead – The Other is Fighting to Keep Her Alive. Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping. After years of therapy, she has made a life for herself – though one that is haunted by memories of her terrifying past. She finally lets herself believe that she can have a close relationship with a man, when signs start appearing that point to one frightening fact – her attacker is back and ready to finish the job he started all those years ago.
Can she escape his grasp a second time? And will she ever be able to let down her guard enough to find true love?
Filled with heart-stopping suspense, gritty realism, and a touch of romance, Don’t Look Back pulls you into its twists and turns to hold you there until the very last page.

Here is the biography of this author:

Lynette Eason grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. She graduated from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and then obtained her master’s in education at Converse College. Author of ten inspiration romantic suspense novels, including Too Close to Home, she is a  member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). In 1996, Lynette married “the boy next door,” and now she and her husband and two children make their home in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

It was clear from the beginning of the book that there were some sparks between the two main characters – at least on the male side of the aisle:

FBI Special Agent Dakota Richards stared down at a pile of bones unearthed by the backhoe. Jamie would have her hands full with this one.
He looked up to see her coming toward him. She was dressed in a Tyvek jumpsuit she’d donned to avoid contaminating the scene. Underneath, he’d bet she had on her standard khaki capris and white long-sleeved t-shirt. In her right hand, she carried a pair of blue booties she’d placed over her red tennis shoes before entering the area.
As always, Dakota’s heart gave that extra little beat in response to her presence. And as always, she held herself at a distance even as she came closer. (p. 7)

A couple pages later, we learn the feelings are mutual:

Jamie ignored the thumping of her heart that Dakota’s presence always seemed to incite and turned her attention to her job. His dark curly hair, keen blue eyes, Stetson, cowboy boots, and Texas drawl combined to make him one attractive man. The problem was, she didn’t know what to do with her reaction to him, so she pretended it wasn’t there. (p. 9)

Fortunately for Jamie, she developed a closer relationship with God after her kidnapping twelve years earlier (as opposed to rejecting God, blaming Him for her ordeal). Here is her prayer after some odd occurrences:

“I don’t know what’s happening, God, but you’ve gotten me this far and I know you won’t leave me…no matter what. Please let there be a reasonable explanation for what’s going on and that I haven’t finally snapped and lost my mind.” (p. 27)

Jamie made the decision that she was going to turn her nightmare into an opportunity to help others:

Drawing in a shuddering breath, she berated herself for dwelling on the past. “You can’t change it, but God can use it. Let him.”
Just saying the words out loud brought her a measure of peace she’d never been able to explain. So she didn’t try to analyze it. She just accepted it for the gift that it was.
Her Savior. Her Lord. Her strength.  (p. 39)

I was really grateful to see that Jamie did not harbor bitterness over the events of the past – something so many people do so easily- but instead allowed it to grow her relationship with her Lord.

At several points in the book, we are given a glimpse into the mind of Jamie’s attacker, who resurfaces in her life after twelve years. He called himself ‘The Hero.’ The passages are chilling:

The Hero laughed softly to himself as he studied the pictures in the album. His treasure, his keepsake. One by one, he flipped the pages. His first damsel in distress, then the second, the third – the one that got away.     
He’d gotten careless with her. She’d begged him not to slit her throat. “Anything but that,” she’d wept. “I know you’re going to kill me, but do it any way you want, just don’t use a knife.” (p. 63)

Although some people might be offended by reading these types of passages, I personally think it is instructive to us to see how a psychopathic mind operates, so that we can be aware what abuse (as one example) can wrought.

Jamie’s testimony touched Dakota deeply. Here is their exchange prior to Jamie’s meeting with a victim of a traumatic incident:

Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes. Silently, she prayed. Lord, you brought me here to help this young woman who’s experienced a terrible trauma. I need you to give me the words, the right thing to say. I need your peace. I need to feel your presence and your unconditional love. And she needs to know that you’re the only one who can fully heal her.
As she prayed, she felt her breathing slow, her thumping heart calm, and her desire to fidget lessen. For several more moments, she just sat as she let God flood her with his presence. Finally she was ready.
She opened her eyes. “Okay. I can do this now.”
Dakota stared at her, his blue eyes narrowed, a look she couldn’t define shining from their depths.
“What?” she asked.
“What just happened?”
“I prayed.”
“I know that. But something happened while you were praying. I watched it.”
She frowned at him, not really understanding what he was asking. “I just asked God to cover me with his presence and love. Plus I asked for peace, to be calm, and have the right words to say.”
“But you changed physically.”
“Yeah, it was like…something just…came over you. All the tension and anxiety that were coming off of you on the ride over here just…dissolved.”
Jamie shrugged and grinned. “Cool.”
He blinked. “Yeah. It was.”
Hesitantly, she asked, “You want to talk about it later?”
A slow nod. “Yes, I think I do.” (pp. 142-143)

Here is another spiritual exchange later in the book between Dakota and Jamie – further evidence of Jamie’s strong faith, and its impact on Dakota:

“‘For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in his steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.’”
She’d whispered the words to herself so quietly, he hadn’t understood her. She looked at him with deep, soul clenching sorrow and clarified, “First Peter 2:21. I have to quote it when the desire for revenge takes over.”
Curiosity stared at her. “And it’s wrong to want revenge?”
“It’s not wrong to want justice, the desire to right a wrong or help put away the bad guys. But revenge, that’s not right. It’s not healthy and I won’t have it in my heart.”
She’d managed to render him speechless, she could tell. When he found his voice, he asked, “How?”
“How what?”
“How do you keep trusting him?”
“Because I can’t not trust him. Because he is who he says he is and he hasn’t let me down yet. Even when his ways aren’t my ways, he hasn’t failed me.” (p. 233)

That is powerful!

I really enjoyed this book! It was full of sympathetic characters and action that had a lot of twists and turns – perfect for the romantic suspense genre! I guessed who the protagonist was about two-thirds of the way through the book, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Lynette made it easy! She is a very talented and creative writer, and I was intrigued enough to keep reading even when life didn’t necessarily allow me that luxury (life always gets in the way of our reading, doesn’t it?!). This is the first book by Lynette that I have read – and it will not be my last!

I was really appreciative of the way in which Lynette wove so much scripture into the book. The Word of God is powerful, and it is so common for books that are considered to be ‘Christian’ not to have any scripture references at all in them. This one has enough to get the point across that Jesus is the answer, and there is no other!

This is the second book in Lynette’s ‘Women of Justice’ series; the first book was ‘Too Close to Home.’ My research uncovered that Jamie’s sister Samantha and her husband, Connor, who are secondary characters in this book, are the primary characters in ‘Too Close to Home.’ The fact that I felt such a connection to this book makes me want to go back and read that book. And I look forward with great anticipation to reading the third book in the series – and any subsequent books after that!

You can order this book here.

Available October, 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Books. This book was provided by Revell for review purposes.

1 comment:

Loren said...

This book is UH MA ZING!! I LOVED it and have read too close to home and it was more of the same! Lynnette is a phenomenal of my new Favorites for sure!

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