14 November 2012

Review: The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann

Morgan Spencer is one of my favourite fictional characters, but Kristen Heitzmann has been pretty tough on him. In A Rush of Wings, he and his younger brother, Rick, were both after the same girl, and Morgan lost. In The Still of Night he reunited with his high school sweetheart, Jill, as they battled to save the life of their daughter, Kelsey. The Breath of Dawn opens at Jill’s funeral service, with Morgan holding their baby daughter.

Frankly, I thought that after all Morgan had been through in the first two books, he deserved a happy ending with Jill, and I was rather annoyed with Kristen Heitzmann for not allowing him to have that. So, I was a bit hesitant about starting this, but thawed quickly when Jill’s death was described as ‘cruel and excessive’. I like the acknowledgement that we, as readers, aren’t supposed to just forget Jill and move on, ignoring the past.

That was one of the underlying themes of the novel: moving on while remaining true to the battles that have gone before. Most of Heitzmann’s contemporary novels are romantic suspense, and this is no exception. Quinn is living under the radar in Juniper Falls, Colorado, not far from Rick Spencer’s ranch. She left home four years ago after her testimony put a man in prison, and has had little contact with her family since.

Quinn is now operating as an eBay seller, cleaning out deceased estates on behalf of the family – her latest project is the house next door to the Spencer ranch, with its piles of clutter, a creepy basement, a history as an insane asylum and a hidden locket. But what is scarier than the basement is the fact that Markham’s sentence is now complete, and he is threatening her. Quinn has befriended the Spencer family, and Morgan, the ‘Success Guru’, offers to help because that’s his style. And perhaps because Quinn is starting to thaw him out from the losses of Kelsey and Jill.

The writing style is quite restrained, in that sometimes there is more in what Heitzmann leaves out than in what is actually said, particularly when it comes to the romantic tension between the lead characters. She has a dry sense of humour which appeals to me (Morgan’s music playlist “sounded like an orc uprising”), and while the novel is definitely Christian, the faith aspects are understated, consistent with her overall writing style. Although I tend to read suspense rather quickly (impatient to get to the end), I found myself stopping to admire the beautiful writing and use of language. The Breath of Dawn is highly recommended, and one I will certainly reread.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can read more about Kristen Heitzmann at her website.

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