Both books are published by Covenant Communications, At the Water’s Edge 197 pages, Under Currents 172 pages, $14.95

Reviewed by Jennie Hansen

Two books by new Covenant Communications authors have water themes-and that is about as far as their similarities go, except for the fact they’re both well-written.  At the Water’s Edge is Annette Lyon’s second book for Covenant and again is a well-developed love and social issues story.  Under Currents is Traci Abramson’s first novel.  It holds its own, and then some, in the suspense department.

Lyon, drawing on her own experience of living in Finland to provide firsthand background information, writes about a young woman who is converted to the Gospel after months of prayer and study, then while her roommate boyfriend is away on a trip, she makes the decision to be baptized. Knowing she can no longer live with him, she asks her parents to let her stay with them until she can find another apartment.  Her father refuses and the reader learns of her father’s long history of abuse and drinking.  She flees to a favorite spot on the beach and that is where her boyfriend finds her. She calls the place Elephant Rock and there she thinks, prays, and faces several significant events in her life as she watches the frozen water change to rolling waves as the seasons change. When she can’t convince Tommi she can no longer live with him, she discovers he’s a man much like her father, and she is forced to flee from him.

SCBwatersEdgefdgfdAt the Water’s Edge is the story of Annela Sveiberg’s conversion to the gospel and her struggle to change her life.  Only through real commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and faith in her Heavenly Father is she able to see and overcome the abuse and anger of the home she grew up in, see her boyfriend Tommi’s controlling behavior for what it is, and face a future that may not include marriage and children. With the help of the elderly Sister Henderson she makes new friends in the Church, who bring her both love and heartbreak.

Sister Lyon deals with her leading lady’s living arrangement at the beginning of the story much the way the movie Charley deals with a similar situation.  There’s no mistaking the extent of the arrangement, but the reader is spared unnecessary graphic details.  She handles Tommi’s seductive attempts to change Annela’s mind in the same direct, but tasteful manner. The book is as much a story of spiritual growth as it is a tender love story.  Fans of romance won’t want to miss this one.

SCBundercurrentsgfdgFor those who like their romance low key and the suspense high, Under Currents is a highly satisfying read.  Abramson, who formerly worked for the CIA, takes a young woman into the Witness Protection Program when she witnesses her undercover agent friend’s death and hears his final dying words.  That night Christal Jones disappears from Arizona and shortly after a young woman known as Shaye Kendall enrolls in Royal University in Virginia.

Disappearing into a good, but relatively unknown college on the other side of the country is hard enough, as is the recent loss of her friend and her father, but forgoing her swimming scholarship to Stanford and her chance to compete in the Olympics completes her sense of abandonment.  The school she now attends has been carefully screened to rule out any accidental meeting with anyone from Arizona or nearby states who may have seen her swim.  She is able to swim for her school, but must change from her winning breaststroke to a butterfly stroke for competitions and compete only on a lesser level than she would have done at Stanford.  The only contingency not planned for is Matt Whitmore.

Matt falls hard for the elusive Shaye, but with persistence on his part she finally begins to date him.  Their relationship turns serious, then he invites her to visit his family for Thanksgiving.  The weekend is nothing like she expects.  She arrives to find the house is a mansion, Matt’s father is a US senator, and the house is full of guests including his brother’s roommates, one of whom happens to be from Arizona and has seen her swim. Added to this complication is a series of drawings of her Matt made without her knowledge and enters in a competition.

The mystery is excellent, the chase scenes believable, and the tension stays high.  The villain is a little predictable.  One part of the mystery is not solved, though there are several clues that point toward its resolution, which leads me to conclude the author is planning a sequel. 

Mystery and Romantic/Suspense fans, check it out.  It appears Sister Abramson has a bright future in writing contemporary, romantic/suspense fiction.