9 September 2015

Review: Red Like Crimson by Janice Thompson

A Book with Antonyms in the Title

(I know red and crimson aren't exactly opposites, but they clash, and should never be seen together. That's why I'm counting this as a book with antonyms.)

Adrianne left college eight years ago when she found out she was pregnant because she didn’t want to destroy Chris’s calling to serve as a missionary in Central America. She now lives in Philadelphia, and is beyond surprised when Chris visits her workplace one day as a member of a wedding party. For his part, Chris is shocked but pleased to see Adrianne again, as he never understood why she left college with no warning, or ignored his letters (like, posted letters. So quaint).

The persistent difficulty of a secret baby plot is the secret. There has to be a good reason why the woman never told the man she was pregnant, because many readers will find it hard to like a heroine who deliberately keeps that kind of information from a man, especially if he’s a good and likeable man (which we hope he is, because we want to see the couple together by the end). We need to see the heroine make at least reasonable attempts to contact the father, or have some major yet believable reason why she doesn’t.

And this is getting harder and harder with smart phones, email and social media: most people, especially young and new adults, own a smart phone, have an email account (that doesn’t change address even if they do) and are on some kind of social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram). This makes it less and less likely that a woman simply wouldn’t be able contact her baby’s father. Red and Crimson got around this by being set in the near past—I found at the end the story was written in 2007, and the lack of mobile phones and the mention of a digital camera made it feel that old (and isn’t it ridiculous that only eight years ago feels ‘old’?). Despite this, the writing was strong enough that I never questioned the lack of email or social media as I was reading.

I got the impression from the ongoing “never the groom” comments that Red and Crimson was part of a series—it felt as though I was supposed to know Chris, Stephen and some of the other characters. But the story stood alone, and I never felt as though I was missing valuable character history in order to understand Red and Crimson. Nor did I feel as though I was being dumped with information about minor characters (something I have come across in other novels).

The theme of the story was forgiveness: God has forgiven us our sins, so we need to forgive ourselves and move on into the life God has planned for us. It’s a message many of us have heard before, but a message that bears repeating. It also reinforces the truth that we are called to be missionaries wherever we are placed, that we don’t have to be in some far-off developing nation to serve God (and while the author doesn’t specifically say so, some people serve God from their homes by writing Christian fiction).

Overall, Red and Crimson was an enjoyable if quick read that Christian romance lovers should enjoy. It was a sweet story with a plenty of conflict but not so much that it felt over-the-top (unlike the last novel I read …). There were a couple of typos (like Adrianne and Adrienne in the book description!), but nothing which interfered with my enjoyment of the story.

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