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GROUNDS TO BELIEVE by Shelley Bates

Captain’s Log, Stardate 04.11.2005

From the back cover:

He'd find Kailey someday. One assignment at a time. One prayer at a time . . .

Ever since a cult took his daughter, police investigator Ross Malcolm's mission has been to protect children. So when a secretive sect in Hamilton Falls, Washington, comes under suspicion for child endangerment, he's on the job, seeking evidence from the latest recruit's aunt, Julia McNeill. Though disdainful of her restricted lifestyle, Ross finds himself wanting to teach Julia the truth of God's love.

Accustomed to living in her sister's shadow, Julia is unaware of her own strengths. Though she's been taught to fear outsiders, conscience compels her to risk everything to help Ross protect her nephew and find his daughter. But Julia's actions unleash a dangerous chain of events. And now Ross must save three lives from the evil that threatens them . . .

Camy here:

I had started reading Shelley Bates’ “Grounds to Believe” a few days ago and got only a little ways into the book when I had to stop. I took it up again when I was eating a solitary dinner tonight, and it was so riveting that I finished dinner and kept reading.

This is a bit different from the normal fare from Steeple Hill, in a good way. The author never writes about body parts or sexual innuendos, but the chemistry between the hero and heroine is almost tangible. What a rush to read some of their scenes. This is a hero I can swoon over (don’t let the pastor-lookalike on the cover fool you, the hero is rough-and-tumble and sexy as sin . . . well, in a Christ-like way. LOL).

The heroine is a bit like Jamie from “A Walk to Remember,” sweet and innocent. But Julia is also real--struggling to understand the paradoxes between the teachings of her “Shepherd” and the Truth in the Bible.

The topic of cults and toxic churches is very appropriate in these days when many churches deviate from the Bible and follow man-made rules. Julia’s church talks “church speak” but doesn’t act as Jesus would, and the members ultimately care only about themselves while professing to be sacrificing the world for God. There is no room for grace, no service for others. It is all appearance, not Christ’s love. It’s frighteningly like the modern world.

The prose flows seamlessly and I got sucked into the story. The writing is masterful--each character is unique and distinct, there are no clichés or stereotypes here. Despite Julia’s sheltered upbringing, I found myself liking her and relating to her as she fought to gain her self-esteem, her identity in God.

I have already pre-ordered the author’s next book, “Pocketful of Pearls,” which also discusses toxic churches and other tough issues. This is totally refreshing Inspirational Romance.



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