Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Review: Stealing Jake

This summer Tyndale Publishing launched a new initiative -- Digital First.  This is an effort to give more authors the opportunity to be published by putting titles out as digital editions.

I was given the opportunity to review Stealing Jake, the debut novel of Pam Hillman, on my Nook, but this is also available for the Kindle.  I certainly hope to see more from her.

From the publisher:
When Livy O'Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-Fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she's helping to run an orphanage. Now she'll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff's deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy—literally—while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town—as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off—Jake doesn't have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can't seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better...but Livy isn't willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.
Okay, so I got this book and read the first chapter... and was very confused.  I set it down and forgot about it.  Yesterday, I picked my Nook up to settle in and try again... and barely set it down again.

Without getting into a lot of plot details, there are a few things I really enjoyed about the book:
  • the characters are well developed.  Even a lot of the minor characters.  I cared about them.
  • while there were a couple of points where the plot dragged a bit, for most of the story, it kept moving along.
  • in the Christian fiction genre as a whole, I appreciate a book that works the "religious" angle in naturally without preaching or lecturing.  Hillman did a great job of that.
  • there was a pretty good mix of the reader knowing more than the characters and the reader being surprised by a turn of events.
About the only thing I didn't like was that at the end pretty much everything is wrapped up neatly.  Now, I don't like a book where there are a bazillion loose ends either.  But the ending just seemed a bit too "happily ever after" for me.  My beef with some versions of Cinderella, for instance, is that I can't believe that she has converted her wicked stepsisters into her best friends and that everyone will get along fabulously forever and ever.   I like ending a story knowing that there are still some cantankerous people in the character's life...

Anyway, that is an incredibly minor complaint.

I had a hard time believing that this was Hillman's first novel.  It read like the work of someone who has done this before.  I'll be watching for more from her.

Disclaimer:   I received this ebook for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

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