Laurie’s brother is involved in a local gang running illegal booze from Canada during Prohibition, and the new man in town, Daniel Shepherd is involved as well. Laurie hates the business the effect alcohol has had on her family, and the fact that all the men in her life seem to be controlled by it, one way or another. Yet she finds herself attracted to Daniel.
Things get complicated when another new face arrives in town: Samuel Brown, a handsome federal agent working to eliminate the illegal trade in alcohol, who is also interested in Laurie. Although her head says Samuel is the better choice, her feelings are conflicted, not least because of her brother’s involvement in rum-running.
We get a hint of one of the main plot conflicts in Mistaken’s subtitle: First Impressions Are Never What They Seem. Literary buffs may recall that the original title of Pride and Prejudice was First Impressions, and there is something of the Lizzie Bennett in Laurie Burke (not merely the initials). Like Lizzie Bennett, Laurie is embarrassed by her family: in her case, by her alcoholic father. Her initial impressions of people are incorrect, and she makes other errors of character judgement in the same way as Lizzie did. I’ll let you figure out the other similarities yourself.
Mistaken is Karen Barnett’s debut novel, and it’s excellent. I find that a lot of Christian fiction, especially historical fiction, starts to get repetitive in the themes, plots, characters and settings. Mistaken is set in a small coastal town about twenty miles south of the Canadian border during the Prohibition era, and alcohol plays a major role in the story. It’s an original time setting, and an original plot, and I liked that.
And the author doesn’t shy away from the problems alcohol causes and the effect it has on family members. Her writing is more challenging than most Christian fiction, as Laurie has to negotiate some difficult moral choices with no black and white answer. The characters are real, facing problems in a world where the right thing to do isn’t the easy thing to do. And while this is Christian fiction and Laurie’s faith ultimately helps her in finding the answer to her conundrum, the Christian aspect is very understated. Recommended.
Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Karen Barnett at her website.
It’s time for a giveaway!
Abingdon Press are offering a signed copy of Mistaken for one lucky US reader. Leave a comment below to go in the draw, and check back next week when I’ll announce the winner. Please note that Abingdon can only mail to a US address – sorry, Aussies, Kiwis and others.