As a reader I felt the Christian themes were awkward. Having attended a Baptist University where, though I am a fellow Christian, people were constantly using breathy voices and calling on the Lord and praying over me and my sins in a manner that often made me uncomfortable. Some were sincere friends and followers of Christ, many were frauds participating in group think and social customs of the Bible Belt. Therefore, I have to say that personal experience greatly affects my ability to enjoy Christian fiction. Ironically, since my own cozy fiction – The Bookshop Hotel – has a churchy reference or two (maybe, if you look for it really hard). A testament to the fact that although it’s a completely fabricated story with no roots in any people I know personally, world views have a tendency to seep through an author’s writing.
As someone who has grown up with Bethany Macmanus in my sphere of family friends, I know that these dialogues, prayers, and sentiments were sincerely written. Something that rings false to me in the dialogue, I am quite certain was meant whole heartedly and rang true for the author when she wrote it. She is one of the kindest, loving, and God-fearing women I have had the pleasure to know in my life. I’ve never seen her without a smile and a sweet disposition.
Many with life experiences concerning physical ailments and reliance on God to get them through those ailments will find this romantic suspense novel something they can identify with and find comfort in. I, on the other hand, had a hard time relating to Wren in any way as she struggled with romantic desires for two love interests, discomfort with whether things and people she encountered were destructive to her spirit, and dealing with creepy stalkers and dead ferrets.
Characters telling each other that they needed each other, and deeming that a verbalization of love, also didn’t sit well with me. Again, I can chalk this up to personal experience tainting my ability to digest certain plot points – which is not an issue with the writing at all. Need and love are such drastically different things in my world, with need often times being the exact opposite of a loving sentiment. In my own writing, I’ve used need as a red flag to characters not being in the right place at the right time for each other, as opposed to the DTR that gets them together.
I think if you’re an avid romantic suspense or Christian fiction reader, this book will be right up your alley. I definitely read a lot of books with romantic elements and enjoy a mystery every few titles I read, but romantic suspense has never been my favorite – and Christian fiction is a genre I tend to avoid, aside from Jan Karon, whose books (crossed with, hopefully, some Kate Morton) are closer to what I strive for in my own existing series. I also have a tendency to prefer exploring religious themes in fiction within in the sci-fi genre – like Philip K. Dick, C.S. Lewis, and Mary Doria Russell titles.
These, of course, are all personal preferences and have no bearing on the merit of Macmanus’s work. I can think of many people I would recommend her books to, and I will continue to purchase her titles and support her as a friend and fellow indie author. But, as an honest book reviewer, I have to say that I wasn’t smitten with Nerve or its characters.
The editing was done well. Not that I’m known for being a grammarian by any stretch of the imagination, but I noticed no flaws in grammar or any hiccups that would distract me from the story – something I highly appreciate after a poor editing job done on my own book from the first indie publisher who picked me up (fabulously re-done and re-released by Grey Gecko Press just this month), as well as other indie titles I’ve reviewed as a blogger. It’s nice to see things so well done the first time out the gate, so there is definitely a kudos to professionalism regarding this title.
I think it is important to mention that though I consider Bethany a family friend, this title was *not* given to me in exchange for an honest review. I purchased the title, read it, and am choosing to share my honest review with my public. Some might wonder why I would share such an on the fence review regarding a friends’ work – I do it with purpose! I think people scanning reviews might come across less than stellar star ratings for this novel (very few! I only see one on Amazon as of the writing of this post) and I’d like to offer some insight to the author and the public. I strongly feel like this is *not* because there is any problem with the story or the characters, but with the perception of the readers who leave those reviews and how they might feel about people in the real world who speak this way. It’s amazing how life experience can manipulate your views on a story, even in the most light hearted of genre fiction.