The mark of an exceptional book is how well it stays with the reader long after the initial reading. That situation certainly applies with the book I want to review today. I read Lynette Eason’s When the Smoke Clears way back in May when I attended a conference in North Carolina and enjoyed a class taught by her. Snatching up the book at the on-site bookstore, I inhaled it waiting for my delayed plane and finished it up the day after.
So it’s been a while, but this story goes beyond the final page – in more ways than one.
Well you know I’m going to discuss them! Alexia Allen, the heroine, has huge ghosts. As something akin to a firefighter, she’s held responsible for a careless mistake that nearly costs her life. She’s placed on leave and decides to return to her hometown for her ten-year high school reunion. She isn’t nearly as haunted by her issues on her job as she is by her past mistakes. Blame from long-ago accusations follows her into town, with her own guilt leading the parade. But she barely arrives before coming under more suspicions, these for more serious situations.
Enter investigating police detective, Hunter Graham, who is attracted to the strength and beauty of Alexia, and who remembers fondly the high school girl she had been. But he has some phantoms of his own, all twisted together with the guilt that Alexia holds. The romance that sparks between them isn’t surprising, but it does deliciously complicate matters.
One of my favorite parts of the book comes at the very beginning. A prologue occurring the evening of graduation, right after the ceremony. This scene ignites a mystery that spans not only this book, but the next two in the series. And what a mystery! I had hoped to finish all three of the books before I reviewed this one, but my time and requirements pressed in.
But don’t be confused. This story stands on it’s own. Though there are questions that hover through the ending and beyond, I felt very satisfied with Alexia’s plot. I know that it’s part of a larger plot, but there is a solution to her problem and secrets revealed deal with that solution. So, though I remember the unsettled details that will build into the next story, I don’t feel that I’ve lost anything by only reading one of the books.
I really am excited by the other two books in the series and thrilled that all three are out at this point (and yes, I have them all!) The mystery that begins on page one is juicy with all sorts of possibilities. I bet Lynette Eason had a blast crafting it! Brilliant writing.
Eason has become a favorite author of mine and of my daughter. (Precious Redhead got to read all three of the books – I’m jealous!) I know I’ll get a gripping suspense with strong intrigue and intense romance when I see her name.
Your Turn: What was the last Christian fiction novel you read?