3 July 2013

ARCBA Review: No Substitute by Susan Diane Johnson

1 - 5 July
is introducing

No Substitute
( Pelican Book Group November 30, 2012)

Susan Diane Johnson
The Book Depository

About the Author
Susan Diane Johnson aka Suzie Johnson

I live on an island in Northwest Washington. A writer of Christian Fiction, my debut novel, No Substitute, is now available from Pelican Book Groups. During the day I work at my local hospital as a cancer registrar. During the evenings and on weekends, I write novels that I hope will bring joy and uplift the hearts of readers. I am married and have one grown son. I love to travel and see new places - especially by train. My favorite destinations are Victoria, B.C.; Williamsburg, Virginia; Disneyland; and Avila Beach in California. I love to read, write, go to baseball games, and ride roller coasters with my son. I am a member of American Christian Fiction Writers; Romance Writers of America; Faith, Hope and Love; National Cancer Registrars Association; and Washington State Tumor Registrars Association. You can find me on Inkwell Inspirations, a daily Christian Women's blog where I am a regular contributor. You can also find me on my personal blog, Suzie's Writing Place where I share my faith, my writing, and my love for books. I'm also onFacebook and Pinterest where I can explore my love of beautiful historical clothing, the South of France, beaches, and certain television shows.

About the Book:
Amy Welsh knew when she came back to the small Washington town of Goose Bay she'd eventually run into her high school sweetheart—the one who broke her heart seventeen years ago. Only Quentin Macmillan isn’t the boy she remembered. He could potentially be everything she's ever dreamed of. But remembering the past reminds Amy that she and Quentin aren't a pair of teenagers in the bloom of first love. Letting him into her life resurfaces all the hurt she's tried to ignore. Forgiveness isn't as simple—or easy—as it sounds, especially after Quentin and Amy discover his teenage daughter has been manipulating their feelings. If Amy can open her heart to healing, she’ll find the future God prepared for her.

My Review

Don’t you love it when the blurb gives away half the plot? I actually hadn’t read the blurb before reading the book, so I thought best part about the novel was trying to work out the motivation for Shayna’s actions, because they didn’t seem in character. When the big reveal came at the end, it was a surprise to me, and it explained Shayna’s actions nicely. But it won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s read the blurb.

Amy is thirty-four going on eighteen, and I’m wasn’t convinced she had the emotional distance to see Quentin as the man he is today rather than the boy he was seventeen years ago. One minute she’s determined never to trust a man or let Quentin anywhere near her heart, the next she's flirting, going on a date with him or kissing him (and not just a peck on the cheek). Even when she was convinced she was seeing the man, not the boy, I felt she was being led by her teenage emotional self, not her adult self.

But Amy wants to know why Quentin never turned up that last night, and it seems that every time they are about to have ‘the conversation’, they put it off (and those plans kept going awry). Why not just say it?

I was expecting a different reason, so No Substitute scores a plus for the element of surprise, but when the Big Reveal came, I wasn’t convinced. It didn’t seem logical. I didn’t find it realistic that a man who is supposed to be intelligent couldn’t come up with another solution. I understand that it was supposed to cement him in our minds as being noble and loyal, but it came across to me as controlling, because that is how I had seen him acting throughout the novel, particularly in relation to his daughter. He certainly wasn’t an example of Christian forgiveness in action.

On the plus side, the writing was good and the minor characters, Shayna and Brandon, were excellent—real teenagers who I could believe. Amy, Quentin and Shayna are all Christians, and I thought the spiritual aspects and the underlying theme of forgiveness were handled well, without being preachy. A solid debut novel with several layers and a nice mix of funny and serious.

Thanks to the author and ARCBA for providing a free ebook for review.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Iola, for your review. I really do appreciate the feedback.