29 April 2015

Review and Giveaway: A Heart's Obsession by Colleen Coble

Can a woman held captive by her family make it back to the one man she knows she can trust? Find out in book two, A Heart's Obsession, of Colleen Coble's Journey of the Heart series. When Sarah Montgomery’s father succumbs to his long illness, Sarah is faced with a life-altering choice: submit to her brother’s will and marry the deceptive Ben Croftner . . . or escape through the dangerous American West to reclaim the heart of her beloved Rand Campbell at Fort Laramie, Wyoming.

Celebrate book two in Colleen's A Journey of the Heart series by entering to win a Kindle Fire and RSVPing to her May 5th author chat party!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • A copy of A Heart's Disguise
  • A copy of A Heart's Obsession
  • A copy of The Inn at Ocean's Edge (blog tour coming in mid-April)
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 7th. Winner will be announced May 8th on Colleen's website. Plus be sure to clear your calendar on the evening of May 5th because Colleen is hosting an author chat party on Facebook to celebrate her A Journey of the Heart series and the release of The Inn at Ocean's Edge! RSVP here!


RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on May 5th!

My Review

Lieutenant Rand Campbell left his intended in Wabash, Indiana when he was posted to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, because she wouldn’t leave her family. The prospect of a forced marriage to liar Ben Croftner gives Sarah Montgomery the push she needs to leave her family and find Rand—and marry him. But when she arrives at Fort Laramie, she finds things aren’t as she expected …

I didn't enjoy the first novella in this collection because the publisher’s description gave away all the key plot points. They didn’t make quite the same mistake with this second book, but the description still covers the first two-thirds of the story (although this time I made sure I didn’t actually read the book description, just in case).

I’m still not sold on the series. Rand is almost the perfect man, except for one error of judgement about the true character of the pretty Miss Jessica DuBois. Sarah was too wishy-washy for my tastes in the first book (A Heart’s Disguise), but seems to have grown a spine on the trip to Wyoming. She also has a respect for the local Indian population that seems a little uncharacteristic for a sheltered woman of her time.

The minor characters were, if anything, worse. We didn’t get the opportunity to get to know either Ben Croftner or Jessica DuBois in any detail, which meant they came across as clichés. The plot moved along too quickly, in that the characters (Rand, in particular) had dramatic changes in their feelings without any logic or explanation. The other problem was the end: it was very abrupt, as though it was just cut off. Perhaps it was—after all, there are another four novellas in the series after this one.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

This book counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a book with a love triangle.

27 April 2015

Review: Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock

Twisted Innocence is the final book in a trilogy, and the three books do need to be read in order, and (I believe) in quick succession, because Twisted Innocence builds on and concludes the overall series story arc. While I have read the previous two books, it was several months ago, and I had forgotten most of the details. As a result, I found the first quarter of Twisted Innocence slow, as though it was trying to tell new readers what had gone before without falling into an excess of backstory that those who did remember the earlier novels would find tedious and unnecessary.
Twisted Innocence focuses on Holly Cramer, the once-irresponsible younger sister of Cathy, Juliet and Jay. She’s now a more responsible woman: a single mother to five-week-old Lily who is working two jobs to try and earn enough money to cover her bills. She is mugged one night, and then finds out that one-night-stand Creed Kershaw knows he is Lily’s father, and is wanted in relation to a drug-related murder. And it seems Leonard Miller, the man who murdered Cathy’s fiance, is back in town …

There were good parts and bad parts to the story. The pace picked up once I got past the first quarter, which made it easier to read. The whole subplot about Michael in prison seemed unnecessary, as though he was only there so someone could observe one specific incident (the scenes where Cathy was petitioning to have Michael released were particularly tedious). However, there were flashes of brilliance:
“How come I didn’t get the decorating gene?”
“It’s not genetic. It’s Pinterest.”
Who can’t relate to that?

There were also reminders that despite the “global village”, some things are still country-specific:
“She scooped [baby] formula into the only clean bottle she had and mixed it with bottled water.”

When I had my babies, while living in London, it was impressed upon us that we were always to fill the bottle, then add the formula powder (so we knew exactly how much water we had, to ensure we added the correct number of scoops) and never to use bottled water. Any midwives care to comment on this?

Overall, while Twisted Innocence was a good finish to the series, it would be better if I’d read all three books in quick succession, as it didn’t work well as a standalone thriller. Thankfully, now you can, and for the same price as buying one of the books: Zondervan has released a three-in-one volume.

Thanks to Zonvervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Terri Blackstock at her website. 

24 April 2015

Review: Soaring Through Stars by Rajdeep Paulus

Wow. Just Wow. 

Soaring Through Stars is the final book in a trilogy, following Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones, and you really do need to read all three books in order. In fact, even giving an accurate book description will effectively give a spoiler for the first two books … but I’ll try.

The trilogy is the story of Talia and Jesse Vanderbilt, daughter and son of famous Chicago lawyer Gerard Vanderbilt … the man who killed their mother through control, abuse and neglect, and now controls his children through fear and pain. But Talia has a secret—Lagan, a boy at school who has befriended her. Her first friend. That’s the first book.

Even from the first book I could see there was a sinister side to Gerard, and while there are further hints in Swimming Through Clouds, it is here that we finally find out more about Gerard and what a piece of work he really is. But the really scary thing is how the years of abuse affect his children—it’s like they’ve been programmed, and they have to fight to break free of that programming and pursue what they believe in. This control illustrates why so many abused women don’t or won’t leave their partners, and that is frightening. It’s especially frightening to think that some women escape but are sent back to their abusers by well-meaning but deceived officials.

This isn’t a fun book, a light romance to download for your summer holiday (if that’s what you’re after, try Beth Vogt, Denise Hunter or Becky Wade). Rajdeep Paulus is more like Ginny Yttrup or Nancy Rue and Rebecca St James, in that she’s not shying away from the difficult topics, yet without being explicit or gratuitous. It’s well-written, sobering, and with subtle Christian undertones. Excellent.

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

22 April 2015

Review: The Art of Falling by Julie Jarnagin

2015 Reading Challenge: Book Set Somewhere I'd Like to Visit (Texas)

Wyatt Lawrence rides bulls for a living and doesn’t understand girly stuff like art; Heather Tornsten is works for an art museum and needs a celebrity to emcee their upcoming fundraising dinner … the two are thrown together by his matchmaking mother, who is sure Wyatt will make a great emcee. Wyatt isn’t so sure, given his feelings about art in general, but his growing feelings for Heather might just persuade him …

Yes, I know this was a novella, but it seemed short—too short for the amount of plot. I’d have liked to have seen a little more getting-to-know-you before the proclamations of endless love. Yes, I know it’s a romance and has to have a happy-ever-after, and yes, I know it’s fiction, but it shouldn’t stretch logic, and this almost did. Almost. But the ending made up for it.

My other grouch is purely from the point of view of this as a 2015 Reading Challenge book: I chose it as a book set somewhere I’d like to visit, Texas. But it could have been set anywhere (well, anywhere big enough to have an art museum and enough people rich enough to pay a small fortune to attend a fundraiser). I never really got the feeling this was Texas, which means it could have done with more setting (although it’s possible this too was a casualty of the short word count of a novell).

Overall, I enjoyed The Art of Falling. The title is an excellent play on words, the character were original and interesting, and the writing was good with flashes of brilliance (personally, that’s what I want in a book. I want to be engaged in the story, not be thinking about how good the writing is or isn’t. If I’m thinking about the writing, it means I haven’t been pullled into the story, and that’s never a good thing). Recommended for those looking for a feel-good romance novella.

Thanks to Redbud Press for providing a free ebook for review.

20 April 2015

Review: Remember Me by Lara Van Hulzen

Unexpected Twist

It’s been a long shift in ER for Tess Jansenn. It gets longer when her last patient is her ex-fiance, the man who left her a week before their wedding, leaving only a note to explain his reasons. Now he’s back, but he’s got amnesia and can’t remember anything, not even his own name. Ben is frustrated that he can’t remember anything, but is attracted to the tiny nurse, and overcome with the desire to protect her after an accident—or was it?

There were plenty of secrets, which always make for a good plot. Tess is obviously keeping one huge secret from Ben: that she knows who he is. Amnesiac Ben obviously isn’t keeping any secrets, because he has no memories, but hidden behind the amnesia is the real Ben, who does have secrets … like why he left Tess, and why he now seems to have a different name. One thing neither of them can hide is their chemistry, but that’s not enough to base a relationship on, especially when Tess knows she’s hiding Ben’s past from him.

I started Remember Me thinking it was going to be a straightforward romance, but was pleased to find it turn into more of a romantic suspense plot as we learn why Ben abandoned Tess (after all, I’m a romantic suspense fan). The plot was well-constructed with good pacing with several excellent plot twists, and the writing was very good—more than good enough to keep me engaged throughout.

I liked all the characters including the minor characters of Aimee (Tess’s sister) and Dane (Ben’s best friend), who were nicely set up to be the lead couple in Get To Me, the second book in the Men of Honor series, published on 14 April. It looks just as good!

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

17 April 2015

Review: A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron


A Sparrow in Terezin is the sequel to The Butterfly and the Violin, and the two books do need to be read in order. Both books are written in two separate timelines, with the contemporary story in both books following the story of art gallery owner Sera James and business mogul William Hanover. As with the first book, the historical section of the novel followed the story of a woman in World War Two Europe, following her from Prague to London and back to Europe over the course of three years.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Butterfly and the Violin. Some readers didn’t like the way it skipped between two timelines or didn’t like the Sera/William subplot, but it was original and I thought it worked. I’d been looking forward to the sequel, so started reading it as soon as the review copy was available (it wasn’t like I had anything better to do on Christmas Eve when I was hosting the family for Christmas Day …. Yes, I'm aware that's five months ago. It just shows how keen I was to read this).

But while A Sparrow in Terezin is a good novel, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected, as I didn’t think the two timelines worked as well. I found the present-day timeline frustrating, as it didn’t seem to be moving the story forward and the link between present and past seemed contrived (I can only assume the minor character linking the stories will actually turn out to be a major character in a later book).

It didn’t help that the past plot took a long time to get to the point—it’s not until two-thirds of the way through the book that Kaja arrives in Terezin, by which time I’d been so involved in her London story that I’d forgotten the implications of the title. The sequence of events which lands her in Terezin, a ghetto/concentration camp, seems unlikely and her motivation for taking those steps is noble, I didn't think it fitted with her character as it had been shown.

The writing and research were excellent, although the Christian aspects were too oblique for my taste. I thoroughly enjoyed Kaja’s story for the first two-thirds of the book, but I found the last third seemed disconnected, and I didn’t get into Sera and William’s story at all. The result was a novel that didn’t meet my expectations, and left me feeling “meh” in the end.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

15 April 2015

Review: Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman

2015 Reading Challenge: Based on a True Story

When Kelli Huddleston’s father and stepmother die in an accident, she is left with nothing and no one—or so she thinks. When cleaning out the house before it sell, she finds an old envelope containing newspaper clippings about the presumed drowning of David Waters and his infant daughter, Darcy, from the small town of Shoal Creek, Tennessee. But the photo is of her…

Kelli travels from California to Tennessee to see if she can meet the surviving members of the Waters family, Alison and her two children, Max and Beth. She wants to know if there’s a reason her father left—and decide whether she introduces herself as their long-lost sister/daughter, or whether she leaves them to go on with their lives. She also meets her father’s ex business partner, Ken Moore, and his son, but finds the trip raises more questions than answers, and forces her to re-evaluate her life in more ways than one.

Finding Me is the first novel I’ve read by Kathryn Cushman, but it won’t be the last. I liked her writing, especially the subtle way she wove Christianity into the plot in a way that made it central and realistic without being intruding. I thought the plot was an excellent combination of mystery and romance, and the subplots did an excellent job of supporting the main story, Kelli’s dilemma.

Kelli was faced with a difficult decision where there was no right choice, which made her a fascinating character. I thought it was a convincing portrayal of how someone would act in such a situation, where everything they’ve been told while growing up turns out to be a lie, creating huge cracks in the memory of a perfect childhood. Going deeper, it also shows us how difficult it is to break those beliefs we are raised with—and the need for forgiveness. Recommended.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

Finding Me counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a book based on a true story: Kathryn Cushman says at the end it is actually inspired by two separate true stories. I don't know what's inspired by truth and what is purely fiction, but the result is an excellent novel. Recommended. 

13 April 2015

Review: In Tune with Love by Amy Mateyo

Fun New Adult Romance

April Quinn’s sister is getting married, and when the wedding coordinator quits with a week to go, she ropes April in to finish the job. What Bridezilla hasn’t told April is that the wedding singer is none other than country music star Jack Vaughan, the guy who gained national fame with April’s lyrics. April’s unacknowledged lyrics. April hasn’t forgiven him … but the sparks flying between them are more than just old hurts.

Jack is sorry for what he did, but he has no idea how to fix the problem … until April’s sister asks him to be her wedding singer. He agrees, as a personal favour to April. Not that she seems to appreciate the gesture. And she’s as cute as ever … maybe the wedding will give him the opportunity to make things right.

Apart from Jack, April’s other problem is that her family don’t appreciate her and don’t respect her career choices, calling her tunes and lyrics “jingles” (I probably wouldn’t be happy either if April was my daughter. But she’s only twenty-two. She’s got time to grow up).

This pretty much encapsulates my problem with April: she’s earnest and hardworking, but she’s young and more naïve than I would have expected, given her history with Jack and the fact she works in a bar surrounded by musicians and people who want to be musicians. She’s still writing lyrics on receipt backs: three years, and she’s never thought to buy a pad of paper to carry around? Or even to write on the back of her bar order pad?

The writing was good, the cover gorgeous, the story fun (if a bit over-the-top), and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. April was lacking in maturity, and the whole wedding scenario was completely over-the-top, which made In Tune with Love seem more young adult than real adult.

Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Amy Mateo at her website.

10 April 2015

Audiobook Review and Giveaway: How A Star Falls by Amber Stokes

Something New …

This review is something new for Iola’s Christian Reads, because How a Star Falls isn't actually a read. It’s a listen: an audiobook, courtesy of Rivershore Books Book Tours and Amber Stokes.

I know a lot of people rave about audiobooks, but I’ve never seen the appeal. The audiobook that’s twelve hours of listening time is probably only four to six hours of reading time, and I’d rather read the book (especially when I can read it on my Kindle). But I’ve recently started a new job which involves two three-hour drives each week, so the idea of using audiobooks to help pass the time and reduce the monotony has a certain appeal. So I was pleased when I was invited to participate in this audiobook blog tour.

Apart from the time commitment, my other issue with audiobooks is the importance of the narrator. A good story can be ruined by bad or indifferent narration, something I have experienced with my previous ventures into audiobooks. Sometimes it’s narrators who try too hard to make their voices different for different characters, to the point where it’s off-putting. Other times it’s narrators whose voices are so monotone, I can’t tell the difference between the characters, which can make for confusing listening.

In the same way, a good narrator can make a story better. That was the case for me with How a Star Falls, narrated by Patrick Wilson Mahaney. Although it’s a romance, most of the novella is from Derek’s point of view, which made a male narrator the logical choice, and Mr Mahaney was excellent—clear and full of expression, with a slightly dreamy quality appropriate for a romance.

The other thing I particularly enjoyed was that How a Star Falls is a novella, so the entire recording is a little under two hours—something I could easily listen to while driving and finish all in one journey (and downloading from Audible onto my phone so I could listen was a breeze). I did notice one curious thing while I was listening: some words and phrases which might have annoyed me in the written book (like too many dialogue tags) worked just fine in an audiobook. I suspect this is a testament to the talent of the narrator.

But what did I think of the story?


Derek isn’t living the dream. He believed “them” when they said he’d have a better career and earn more if he went to college, so why is he now working a low-wage job as a sales clerk in a music store and paying off student loans? He’s musing about the injustice of it all while taking one of his favourite walks … where he comes across a woman in a wedding dress, sleeping on a bench at the top of the hill.

He wakes her because it’s about to get dark, and she says she’s a fallen star, from the edge of the constellation of Orion. Derek doesn’t exactly believe her, but it’s getting dark and she doesn’t have anywhere to go, so he does the gentlemanly thing and offers to take her home. Derek shows himself to be a nice guy who deserves more. Brielle (as he calls her) is naïve and imaginative, loves dancing, and helps Derek to reconsider how he thinks about his “career” and his family.

How a Star Falls is a gorgeous romance reminding us that we are responsible for our own choices, and that the life we are living doesn’t have to be the life we live. We can change things. And I liked and appreciated that reminder.

A lovely story that left me with a smile on my face even in rush-hour traffic.

You can find out more about Amber Stokes at her website, Seasons of Humility.


Experience How a Star Falls as you’ve never heard it before! Enter to win one of three digital audiobook copies of the novella using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to anyone who can access Audible.com. (Prizes will be distributed using promo codes through that site.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are also ebook and paperback versions available: Click here to go to Amazon

9 April 2015

ARCBA Tour: Andrew Murray: Destined to Serve by Dr Olea Nel

6 - 10 April 2015
is introducing

(Clairvaux House (own imprint), 1 October 2014)


Dr Olea Nel 

About the Book:
For those who love Historical Fiction about Christian heroes of the faith"Historically accurate, and based upon Andrew Murray's letters and early biographies"

A boyish and fun-loving Andrew Murray arrives back in South Africa after being ordained at the Hague on his twentieth birthday. He soon discovers that his preaching lacks the power displayed by his heroes of the faith. He therefore decides to embark on a quest to become a powerful preacher filled with the Holy Spirit.

About the Author

Dr Olea Nel was born in Cape Town, South Africa. After
completing her training as a teacher in Andrew Murray’s heartland of Wellington, she relocated to Australia to further her studies. Besides attaining a PhD in Linguistics, she also has qualifications in Information Studies and Theology. Having now retired from her position as a senior librarian at the National Library of Australia, she is able to pursue her
passion for research, especially within the fields of church history and biography. Her aim is to share her findings with fellow Christians.

8 April 2015

Review: Loathing Lola by William Kostakis

2015 Reviewing Challenge: Book by an author under 30

This Challenge was harder than I thought—most Christian fiction seems to be written by older authors (it’s a big clue that they are over 30 when their bio says they are a grandmother). No one actually comes out and says their age. Anyway, I was pleased to find Australian author Will Kostakis come up on my blog feed, because as well as making some interesting points about male authors, he also was under 30. Off to Amazon, where I picked up his debut novel, Loathing Lola, published when he was just 19.

It’s not Christian fiction, which means there is a little swearing and a cast of characters who don’t have any Christian beliefs (even though they all attend a ‘Christian’ high school). The one obviously Christian character, the school priest, was portrayed well—if only all general market fiction could write such positive Christian characters without getting cliché or preachy.

Fifteen-year-old Australian schoolgirl Courtney Marlow has auditioned for Real Teens, a new reality TV show looking to highlight the life of a real teenager. Applying wasn’t her idea, but she’s been chosen and a chance discovery means she has to go through with it. But no sooner is the show announced than everyone wants to get in on it, from her second-best friend to her father’s new wife and the President of the school Mothers’ Auxiliary (their equivalent of the PTA).

Loathing Lola is written entirely in the first person, from Courtney’s point of view, and she has a clear and convincing voice—it’s easy to believe she is an average Australian teenager (the accuracy of the voice is a little disturbing when I remembered this was written by an Australian teenage male). She’s smart, funny, sad, depressing, angry—in other words, real. Well, she feels real. Unlike the TV show, which we find out is nothing real at all.

I enjoyed Loathing Lola. There was a strong author voice, a cast of quirky and interesting characters (I can’t say they were all likeable, but that was the point), a well-constructed plot and a theme that will appeal to a generation fixated on reality TV. And a great end.

6 April 2015

Review: From the Start by Melissa Tagg

First in a New Series

Kate Walker writes romance movies—not exactly her life ambition, but it pays the bills. At least, it used to, while her scripts were selling. She has a new opportunity: to take a short-term trip to Africa to cover projects managed by the charity her late mother set up, but a tornado in her home town changes her plans. It also introduces her to her brother’s college friend and ex-professional football player Colton Greene … who just happens to be looking for a writer to co-write his memoir. But Kate knows nothing about football, and Colton isn’t willing to open up about the family tragedy which led to him growing up in foster care.

I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of Melissa Tagg’s other books, and while I enjoyed this, I didn’t feel there was anything which made it stand out from the crowd. The main characters, Kate and Colton, were nice, even if their careers were a little cliché. They all live in a lovely town where everyone pulls together in times of adversity (like bad weather). Everything was nice, which made it all a little too bland for my taste. The most interesting character was the bad-tempered coffeeshop owner (who I can see having a major role in another book in the series).

Overall, From the Start was an enjoyable summer read in which everything happens just as it should, providing a fun read and a satisfying ending. Recommended for fans of authors such as Susan May Warren and Becky Wade.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. To find out more about Melissa Tagg, visit her website.

3 April 2015

Review: The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall

Excellent end to trilogy!

After the murder of her brother, heiress Estella Everstone goes incognito as Elle Stoneburner, paid companion to an elderly widow. But she doesn’t anticipate the job taking her to Everston, her favourite of her family’s hotels, where she meets Mr Dexter Blakeley, the hotel manager … and Jay Crawford, her ex-fiance.

The whole book is told in first person, by Elle/Estella. She’s an interesting character: people treat her differently as Elle Stoneburner, and she finds their attitudes quite different. It gives her the opportunity to find out who she really is, apart from the much-younger Everstone sister, the heiress. The first person gives it a gothic romance field, a little like Victoria Holt (for those old enough to remember her!).

This is especially the case with Mr Blakeley and his mother, both of whom seems to have a low opinion of society women. Elle/Estella is attracted to Mr Blakely, and he seems to be attracted to Elle, but will he have the same feelings for Estella, given she represents so much he appears to despise?

The Captive Imposter is the final book in The Everstone Chronicles trilogy, with each book telling the romance of one of the Everstone siblings. The Captive Imposter is a standalone novel, but features characters and situations from the earlier books—so if you plan on reading all the books, do start with The Hesitant Heiress.

I’ve read all three books, and they all have solid plots with excellent characters, feisty women with faith and attitude. The books are well-written, and I especially like the way they each include a strong Christian thread without being preachy. Having said that, I think The Captive Imposter is my favourite of the three books, because the plot is something a little different, and because the characters are so good--both well-imagined and well-portrayed. Recommended for fans of historical romance.

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

1 April 2015

Review: The Wedding List

2015 Reading Challenge – A book set in your hometown

You are no doubt thinking that I live in New Zealand, so why am I reading a novella set in London as “a book set in my hometown”. There are two reasons. First, I don’t really have a hometown in the way Americans refer to one, but I lived in London for longer than I have lived anywhere else, so I think it counts. Second, there simply aren’t a lot of books set in my part of the world. I can count on one hand the number of Christian novels I’ve come across set in New Zealand or by Christian authors (something Kiwi author Kara Isaac discussed in a recent blog post).

Anyway, on to my review. Beth Forrest works in the wedding department of staid London department store Pettett and Mayfield’s, where she spends her days serving posh clients and struggling to overcome her working-class background, something which has given her a serious inferiority complex. Beth is about to close up one day work ay when a piece of her past walks in: James Wetherton-Hart, the posh boy she once loved—until his mother found out James was seeing a servant, and had Beth sent packing from the estate.

The Wedding List was an enjoyable short novel that was a pleasant walk down memory lane of winter in London, particularly when it came to some of the locations, like Tower Bridge. It was also an enjoyable romance, even if I wasn’t entirely convinced by the emphasis on class distinctions, or the fact she was ashamed of her working-class heritage (I always saw the real-life English working class, as generally proud of their heritage. It's the middle class who seek upward mobility). I also would have liked to have seen more character development, particularly with James.

Overall, I liked the novel, but probably not enough to read more in the series.