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ONE FELL DOWN by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
Mikaela York receives a sympathy card in a blue envelope shortly before her fiance dies in a horrific car accident. Once again a blue envelope is delivered when her grandmother suffers a fatal fall while hiking. This one is hand delivered by an old man. Both cards contain a phrase or two from a nursery rhyme. Still grieving for her fiance and grandmother, Mikaela reluctantly agrees to travel to New Zealand for her grandfather to oversee the renovations he has ordered for a bed & breakfast inn he owns there. When she reaches New Zealand she meets Tui Davies, the inn’s manager and her daughter, Almira. She also becomes acquainted with Brenten Williams, an American film maker who has been dating Almira for some time whenever he is in the country, a local reporter, Andrew, a nephew of the original owner who sold the inn to Mikaela’s grandfather and his partner, a blind author and his secretary, and a honeymooning couple, as well as some of the prominent community leaders. All become deeply involved in the Tolkien festival which is just beginning. Following her grandfather’s instructions she removes a doll from a cellar vault and is startled when Tui becomes so upset she insists the doll be removed from the inn or she’ll leave.
Shortly after Mikaela arrives in New Zealand a body is discovered buried near the back stairs of the inn and not long after another sudden death occurs. Still struggling with grief, she finds herself caught between her responsibilities to the inn, the investigations, her growing suspicion her fiance’s and grandmother’s deaths were not the accidents they appeared to be, and her growing feelings for Brenten. Then more blue envelopes and nursery rhymes enter the story.
The characters are interesting and distinctive. The author has given both the American and New Zealand characters strong roles and appropriate dialog. The background feels authentic and lends itself well to the story. The mixture of modern day features and old cultural superstitions lends itself well to the suspenseful elements. The Tolkien references may be annoying for those who aren’t familiar with the characters and events in The Lord of the Rings. Being that this novel is Romantic/Suspense it’s obvious who is responsible for the murders, but it may take awhile to figure out who is actually carrying them out and why. The romance is low key, but the suspense will keep the reader flipping pages as fast as possible.
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen lives on a small farm in northern Utah. She is married and the couple have three children. They travel a great deal and New Zealand is her favorite place to visit. One Fell Down is her fourth published novel.
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ONE FELL DOWN by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen, published by Covenant Communications, 212 pages, soft cover $15.99. Also available on audio and for eReaders.
LOVE JANE by Ranee S. Clark
Jane has communication problems. She has plans to serve a mission, but hasn’t told her boyfriend, Sean. They’re both high school teachers. In addition to teaching a couple of classes, he’s an assistant coach. He’s hurt and they almost break up when Jane finally gets around to telling him she is leaving to serve an LDS mission. She already has her call and will be gone in a few weeks. He’s disappointed, but promises to wait for her. Added to his hurt one of his favorite students is involved in cheating on his tests to keep his grades up so he can play football and the head coach doesn’t care. Because Sean believes integrity is as important as skill and athleticism, a rift arises between him and the head coach. While Jane struggles with a difficult companion and all of the trials that go with being a missionary far from home, she gradually matures and learns important lessons concerning communication. Sean waits and they exchange weekly emails, but he’s lonely and feels that if Jane really loved him she would have married him and cancelled the mission call. She’s twenty-four, not nineteen. Between his difficulties with the head coach and his loneliness, he’s ill prepared to withstand the calculated scheming of an old crush who arrives back in town and is determined to win him for herself.
For characters in their mid to late twenties, both Jane and Sean are a little shallow and immature though they, particularly Jane, improve toward the end of the book. During the almost eighteen months Jane and Sean email each other and share their thoughts and dreams, they get to know each other better than when they were dating. Jane eventually realizes her failure to communicate with Sean about her mission plans and later her communication problems with her companion created greater problems than speaking up would have. Sean is easily manipulated by his new girlfriend and has a problem with trying to fix everyone else’s problems. He has to learn he can’t take care of everyone, but must at some point do what is best for himself.
The turn around theme of a guy waiting for a sister missionary and for her to get a “Dear Jane” letter is an interesting twist. Love Jane is a light, fun read for those who enjoy contemporary romance stories.
Ranee S. Clark enjoys reading and writing and has a degree in history. She and her husband are the parents of three boys. She and her family live in Alaska.
LOVE JANE by Ranee S. Clark, Published by Covenant Communications, 208 pages, soft cover $16.99. Also available for eReaders.