Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Living Lies by Natalie Walters #BookReview #ACFWAuthor

Living Lies by Natalie Walters #BookReview #ACFWAuthor


In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name--but no one knows your secret. At least that's what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton's newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she'll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.

Debut novelist Natalie Walters pulls you to the edge of your seat on the first page and keeps you there until the last in this riveting story that will have you believing no one is defined by their past.

My Review:

To give you a hint of my opinion on this story… After reading, I mailed a thank you note to Natalie for writing the book. She and I met at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas in 2015 and her genuine, friendly personality struck me right away. We ate barbecue with a group of authors at a mom & pop diner in Grapevine, Texas, then at the next year’s conference in Nashville took some a moment to talk about this story idea when, if I remember correctly, she was still seeking an agent. I have one of the worst memories of anyone I know (sad), but I think I remember we prayed together about the appointments we had coming up. When she told me her story dealt with the subject of depression, I started praying for her and her work, because I knew the space in my heart, and no doubt many others’, waiting for a story that would minister on that level.

Not only did Living Lies entertain and capture me as a reader, it ministered to me and actually comforted me (Not sure I’ve ever said that about a suspense book!). Like the characters in this novel, I have friends and loved ones who choose daily to be overcomers in their battle with depression, so for me reading this book was absolutely refreshing. Knowing someone else “gets” how depression doesn’t magically go away after a few weeks of counseling sessions, but also that there is hope available every day, had me wanting to come back and see more of these characters down the road. The story also reminded me of practical ways I can encourage my people who suffer from chronic depression and let them know what incredible value they add to my life. The message in this story is so needed in the Christian community, where often depression is labeled as a spiritual weakness or a subject avoided completely.

The Plot:

The suspense thread had me racing through the pages, not to mention the fascinating way the author spotlights parallels between effects of chronic depression, emotional struggles of current armed forces, then the plight of Vietnam veterans who still suffer from the memories they carry and the treatment they’ve received.

The Setting:

Small-town investigative dynamics in this story are skillfully portrayed and interesting to read. The way the police chief treats Lane as if she were his own precious daughter, and the whole come-over-for-a-bowl-of-peach-cobbler relationship Charlie has with his aunt, had me settling into the story world like a comfortable blanket. But not too comfortable, because the mossy forests surrounding this Georgia town hold deadly secrets…and bodies!

The Characters:

Each character Natalie has crafted is unique and sparkles against the backdrop of the story. Christian fiction has now given me two reasons for the name Charlie to ignite a smile. Charlie Lionheart by Joanne Bischof and Charlie Lynch by Natalie Walters! I also have to mention Lane Kent’s name will stir a herd of butterflies for readers who are still shipping Lois & Clark from the 80-year-old Superman fandom. :) 

Charlie and Lane… the hero and heroine in this novel both gave me much to relate to. Lane’s five-year-old son, Noah—adorable! Charlie’s interactions with the boy and his patience, faithfulness, and reliability toward Lane and her family really makes him a stand-out hero. I liked Lane’s character and the glimpse into her “perfect” political childhood. One review I came across seemed impatient with the character Lane’s inability to snap out of her condition, but I’d like to encourage readers to remember that everyone’s encounter with depression is different. There may be similarities in every case, but each person’s experience is also as unique as their thumbprint. This story reminded me that when we think our friend or loved one should “be over this already,” what they really need from us is to know we’re not going anywhere, we're walking this road with them, we’ll help however we can, and they are more precious to us than anything in the world. Finally, here is a realistic book that portrays depression wrapped in hope.

The Romance:

How do I put into words? Here I’ll have to employ an acronym coined by Beth Erin at Faithfully Bookish: #swoof which stands for Squeezing Words Out Of Feelings. I sigh and tilt my head a little, smiling and trying to pinpoint a summary of Charlie and Lane’s relationship. She’s grieving the death of her husband two years passed, for which she blames herself. Having witnessed his share of encounters with PTSD and other emotional struggles left in the wake of combat, Charlie instantly senses a kinship with Lane and wants to offer her a lifeline. Where she is fearful, he is available to her. Where she’s unsure, he’s steady. He won’t let her disappear into her doubts about the relationship without knowing one hundred percent where he stands and how he feels about her. This, I think, is one of my favorite traits in a fictional hero. One who takes the risk, offers his attention, presence, and protection in a way that is so like Christ. (These men do exist outside of fictional books, ladies. I’ve seen them, though they are rare and usually taken. Ha!)

E-book Deal:

At the time of this post, the book is on sale for $1.99! What? Amazing! Grab your copy here:

Let's chat:

  • How many other Christian fiction books can you think of that deal with depression and emotional issues?
  • Have you ever found a book that tackled an issue close to your heart? What was the book?
  • Did you know Natalie Walters lives in Hawaii? What is the first thing you think of when you hear of Hawaii?

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