Monday, March 26, 2012

Spotlight Review:

RETURN TO GRACE – Karen Harper
Home Valley Amish Trilogy , Book 2
MIRA
ISBN: 978-0-7783-1481-3
February 2012
Inspirational Amish Romantic Suspense

Home Valley, Ohio - Present Day

Hannah Esh left Home Valley after her betrothed, widower Seth Lantz, got another woman pregnant. Devastated and broken hearted, Hannah headed for the city and a singing career, but after her audition was a bust, she ended up taking a job as receptionist in the recording studio. Tonight, out for Halloween fun, she has brought her English friends back to Home Valley to tramp through the corn maze and dance on the Amish graves. When shots ring out, her friend Kevin is suddenly dead, and Hannah's wrist is pierced by a bullet. She calls 9-1-1 .

On his way home, Seth Lantz hears a woman screaming and stops to help. He thought he recognized Hannah's voice, but that can't be; she's gone. Inside the cemetery he finds a bleeding Hannah and one of her friends, dead on his wife Lena 's grave. Two others are also hurt. Seth holds Hannah. He can hear sirens in the distance, then the voices of her parents. Their daughter has returned from the world, but in a terrible and disgraceful state.

FBI Special Agent Linc Armstrong is trying to make sense of the murder in the Amish cemetery. Hannah Esh seems to be in the middle of all the mystery, and local Sheriff Jack Freeman is agreeing to help with the investigation. Linc learns that there have been threats in the Amish community, and it looks as though these threats just escalated into a violent murder. The victim was not Amish, just someone who got in the way of the bullet. All of Linc's answers seem to be pointing to Hannah, and until he can learn who is after her, he wants her kept under wraps where he can watch her. Linc warns Hannah to stay out of this investigation, but instead, she and Seth form an unlikely partnership and do their own digging for clues.

Hannah will never forgive Seth for betraying her. His wife Lena is dead now, but he has a young daughter to care for. Seth says he still loves her, but Hannah cannot trust him. Seth hurt her, and she can't turn her back on what he did. Nor can she go back to her Amish roots, even though her parents are trying to keep her at home. All Hannah wants to do is solve this murder and return to the city and her singing career.

RETURN TO GRACE is Hannah Esh's path while she is back in Home Valley . She takes a job at the local bed and breakfast and helps her friend, restaurant owner Ray Lynn Logan keep track of Lily Freeman, the ex-wife of Sheriff Jack, whom Ray Lynn has been dating. Lily has come back to Home Valley to claim Jack, and Ray Lynn is afraid she'll lose him. Meanwhile, Hannah's friend, Sarah Kauffman, who has left the church and is marrying her English fiancé, has invited Hannah to her wedding. Hannah plans to sing at the wedding, but neither Seth nor Linc Armstrong wants her to go; they still think she's a target for the killer. Hannah and Seth begin to walk a tightrope of guarded love and misplaced trust while they attempt to solve the murder. Their passion is ignited every time they are together, but Hannah pushes Seth away; she cannot go down that road again.

RETURN TO GRACE is the second novel in the Home Valley Trilogy, following FALL FROM PRIDE (September 2011). The series will conclude with FINDING MERCY, coming soon. All of these novels stand alone, and RETURN TO GRACE is a tense and compelling mystery coupled with romance.

Diana Risso

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