One of the joys of reviewing books is being able to follow the journey of a new author. C.J. Darlington’s second novel, ‘Bound by Guilt,’ has just been released; I also had the pleasure to read her first novel, ‘Thicker Than Blood.’
Here is the synopsis of ‘Bound by Guilt’:
Roxi Gold is a throwaway, shuttled from one foster home to another for most of her life. She longs for a family and will do anything to fit in – even if it’s against the law. Soon she’s traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores, until a first edition of The Great Gatsby catches up with her.
Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society, and not just at work. The job she once loved has become a chore, the world isn’t any safer, and there’s no joy in her life. One fateful night a man’s innocent blood changed both Roxi’s and Abby’s lives forever. One searches for justice; the other finds herself on the run. Will the power of forgiveness set them free, or will they both remain bound by guilt?
Here is the biography of this talented young author:
C.J. Darlington began writing the story that would become her first novel, Thicker Than Blood, when she was a fifteen-year-old homeschool student. Later it won the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christians Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in the Thicker Than Blood series before cofounding her own online bookstore. In 2006, C.J. started the Christian entertainment Web site www.TitleTrakk.com with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. A home school graduate, she maker her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats.
And here is the book trailer for this wonderfully well-written sophomore novel; it is a very compelling trailer!:
As was the case with ‘Thicker Than Blood,’ Miss Darlington writes with the skills of a veteran author. Her characters are fully fleshed out, and she interweaves multiple storylines with flourish! I had a great deal of empathy for many of the characters (although not all; the character of Irene requires a lot of grace…).
It was interesting to learn about the antiquarian book business in this novel (as is also covered in ‘Thicker Than Blood’). The reader learns a lot about the first edition of ‘The Great Gatsby,’ the classic from F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“I had to do a little research, but first editions of The Great Gatsby are extremely rare. And with the dust jacket….” He leaned forward. “We’re talking at least twenty-five grand, possibly thirty or forty.” (p. 294)
The subject of faith – and the lack thereof, as well – is discussed throughout the pages of this book. Here is Abby reflecting on her own beliefs:
Stopping for a moment, Abby lifted her eyes to the starry sky. Someone who created all this…why would He care what went on down here? She took a deep breath, turned in a complete circle, and took in the whole sky. Faith in God was something she’d abandoned a long time ago. God had probably given up on her by now too. (p. 253)
In contrast, there are many characters in this book that have deep faith in Christ, and they share His love and grace with everyone in their path.
In ‘A Note from the Author,’ CJ. shares her heart for lost teens:
Something else I didn’t make up is Roxi’s broken heart and her search for love. It saddens me that so many teens today find themselves in her situation. If you take away one thing from Bound by Guilt, may it be the challenge to look past outward appearances and reach out to a hurting teen in your life. Teenagers, even those with tattoos and nose rings, need people like you and me to love them for who they are. I hope we can be Jesus’ hands and feet and love this generation unconditionally. (p. 384)
I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing C.J.’s first novel, ‘Thicker Than Blood’ last year on my blog; it was one of the first book I reviewed (you can read the review here). As I mentioned in that review, I loved that book, and I was looking forward to ‘Bound by Guilt’ to see where the relationship between Christie and her younger sister, May. Although May and Christie are both in this novel, their relationship is not fully explored. It is clear they have gotten to spend more time with each other and know each other better since the events of ‘Thicker Than Blood;’ their relationship was more peripheral to the main storylines in ‘Bound by Guilt.’
C.J. writes with so much skill. There is some suspense involved in these storylines, and she keeps me turning the pages to learn what happens next. I am not sure what the next book will be in the series, but I look forward to learning more about all of these characters. Ok – maybe not Irene (unless the Lord grabs her and regenerates her life, as He is very experience in doing!).
You can order this book here.