Review: One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon

One Perfect Spring

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not affect my review

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Claire Summers is a determined, independent single mother who is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Keith Watson is a results-oriented workaholic with no time for a social life. As the executive assistant to a local philanthropic businessman, he’s used to fielding requests for donations. But when a letter from Claire’s eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk, everything changes. The girl isn’t asking for money, but for help finding the long-lost son of an elderly neighbor.

As Keith digs reluctantly into this complicated assignment, he has no idea how intertwined his life and Claire’s will become–nor how one little girl’s kindhearted request will touch so many lives and reap so many blessings. Through compelling characters and surprising plot twists, Irene Hannon offers readers this tenderhearted story of family connections that demonstrates how life is like lilacs–the biggest blooms often come only after the harshest winters.

I’ve read several of Irene Hannon’s Christian suspense novels and was actually surprised to find that she writes romance, as well. While her suspense novels always have romantic elements, they’re mainly focused on the mystery and suspense aspects, so I was interested to see how she did without those components. I’m pleased to say she delivers.

The characters in One Perfect Spring are very well developed and go through tremendous growth. Claire is a single mom struggling to raise her daughter on a teacher’s salary. After a rough divorce at an early age she has decided that men are not worth the trouble. Keith a workaholic at a successful company, driven to prove his worth by demons from his past making him believe he’ll never be good enough.

Maureen is a single college professor and cancer survivor who gave up a child for adoption long ago and wants to find him again. David is Keith’s boss, a former workaholic whose wife’s recent death has forced him to reassess his priorities and try to repair his relationship with his daughter. And Haley is the eleven-year-old who writes a letter to bring them all together.

All these characters are likable and they are all given time in the spotlight to give us the opportunity to get to know them and watch them change.  I also really liked Haley. She’s probably one of the least annoying child characters I’ve read.

The main theme that weaves all these lives together is that God has a plan and He often uses what we view as negative experiences to bring about positive results. While the overall story is a happy one, there is a lot of pain in between. Hannon does a good job of incorporating the characters growing relationships with God in a realistic away and it never feels “preachy”.

If there’s one thing that I didn’t care for, it is the “everyone is beautiful” cliché. While the two main relationships both end up being based on much more than looks, there is a lot of talk in the beginning about how beautiful and wonderfully in shape everyone is – even the 59-year-old cancer survivor (no offense to that age or disability demographic, but I don’t think that having “great legs” is what should be making her beautiful).

Overall, I enjoyed One Perfect Spring. Hannon does a good job of incorporating romance and faith and in developing the characters and their relationships. I would recommend this to fans of Christian Romance.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 3.5 Characters:
4 Readability: 4
Enjoyability: 3.5
Overall Average: 3.75 Stars

Trapped by Irene Hannon – 2 stars (out of 5)

Trapped (Private Justice, #2)

I received a copy of this title for review from NetGalley.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

When librarian Laura Griffin’s sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James “Dev” Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl’s disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn’t just dangerous–it’s deadly.

Chilling and at times terrifying, “Trapped” is the latest thrilling read from Irene Hannon, the queen of romantic suspense. Hannon outdoes herself with this fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.

I’ve read a couple books by Irene Hannon and found them to be a good blend of suspense, romance, and faith. I was expecting to enjoy Trapped just as much, but found it a little underwhelming.

Let’s start with the suspense angle. There wasn’t much. I felt like the whole book was pretty predictable. There was one thing that surprised me and it wasn’t that much of a surprise. The pace was slow and there really wasn’t a whole lot going on for most of the book. However, the last few chapters ratcheted up the action and made it enjoyable.

The romance was a little lacking for me, as well. It followed the “insta-love” formula that seems to be so popular, but I rarely appreciate. The main characters, Laura and Dev, are likable, but pretty boring. There was nothing that interesting about them that would justify the instant attraction and affection other than both being attractive.

I would’ve liked to see the secondary characters developed a little more. Darcy, the teenage runaway/kidnap victim, wasn’t much more than a cliché. Dev’s PI partners, Cal and Connor, were both likable, but rarely seen. Since this is the second book in the Private Justice series, I gathered the first book was about Cal, so readers should’ve been already acquainted with him. The next book in the series I would assume will be about Connor, so he’ll be more fully developed in that book. My biggest complaint about this type of series – where each book is focused on a different character – is that it seems like an excuse to only develop one set of characters at a time. And then when you like those characters, they’re pushed to the background in the next book and almost forgotten. This complaint is one for the genre, though, and not just this particular book.

One character that I really found interesting, however, was Mark. I felt like he was the most developed of the book and some of the best moments of the story were with him. Even though he’s the villain of the story, he was a sympathetic character that I really felt sorry for.

The faith of the characters in the story sets it apart from your normal romantic suspense. Hannon does a pretty good job of letting Laura’s faith define her character and it never seems like it’s a reach when she prays or talks about God. However, it seems to be a much less central theme in the story than the other books I’ve read by Hannon and I would’ve liked to see more of Darcy and Dev’s spiritual growth.

Overall, this book was just ok for me. It moved much too slow for me to be suspenseful and it felt like it was way too long. Fans of Hannon may still find it enjoyable, but I would direct readers unfamiliar with her work to pick up Fatal Judgment or Against All Odds.