Indie Book Review Archive

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IndieHeart selects 4-6 free and 99¢ Kindle eBooks up to four days per week. We take our time picking a small number of quality selections for book lovers like you! Links and recommendations are for US-based Amazon.com readers only.

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Behold The Dawn

Behold the DawnA while ago, I read a nicely written short story by K M Weiland, so I didn’t hesitate at the opportunity to receive a free copy of Behold The Dawn in exchange for an honest review. What I didn’t pay attention to before grabbing it was that it’s marked as a Christian book. I was looking forward to reading something set during the time of King Richard’s crusade, but I’m not a Christian. I seldom enjoy Christian literature because it is often more intent on converting me than entertaining or educating me.

I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up really enjoying the book. It kept usurping the place of the other four or so books I’m reading. While the main conflict of the book is an internal one between a man and his god, there was an action-packed story framed around that conflict, and the book didn’t preach.

The protagonist, Marcus Annan, is a well-drawn character with a way of thinking and a need for forgiveness that fits well with history. The bodies needed to feed the fire of the Crusades were often supplied by men seeking a guarantee of absolution of their sins.

Throughout, the book rolled right along with lots of action inter-cut with romance. The characters were well-developed with believable villains, and the author included a less serious sidekick (Marek) who served the story well by providing a much-needed break from the grim reality of the story.

It is important to note that Behold The Dawn is not Historical Literary Fiction but *Historical* and *Romance* in approximately equal measure. The aspect I enjoyed the most was the fast-paced action that wrapped around the elements. Be aware of what you’re getting, and you should also be satisfied with this book.

Because this is clearly genre fiction and not for the reader of the “serious” historical novel, I have no problem giving the book a 4.25 star rating against other books in the genre. What keeps it from being a five star for me is that the author’s formula sometimes shows through just a little too much, most notably in the romance portions of the book. However, if you like Romance novels, that would obviously be a bonus. Additionally, some of the story elements were a little too predictable.

I recommend this book for people who enjoy Historical Romance or Historical Action / Adventure with romantic elements. You can purchase a copy of the novel from Amazon.com

The Contestant

The ContestantCatherine Lea, who wrote the excellent The Candidate’s Daughter, says the reason she used the pen name CJ Lea for The Contestant is because the books are so different. The Candidate’s Daughter is a billed as a “thriller with a heart”. The characters in The Contestant? Completely heartless. However, like the first book, it is a fast-moving thriller with well-drawn characters and the perfect amount of description to allow you to watch along in your head. It definitely pulled me along with the same relentless energy found in the first book. Whatever you call her, Ms. Lea writes a memorable and enjoyable book.

I initially found the book difficult to believe as it set up the premise of the “Games Club.” Others may find it difficult in the beginning for the same reason: the premise might not actually be doable in reality-world. However, I was able to willingly and eagerly suspend my disbelief within a few chapters as the story pulled me along into a complex game between a dangerous set of contestants who would do anything to reap their reward.

Although the book is fast-paced, the author takes the time and care to develop the main character, Raymond, in all his evil glory. Confined to a wheelchair and more than bitter about it, Raymond is one scary dude who is determined to come out ahead no matter who gets in the way. I had to keep reading just to make sure he got his comeuppance. You’ll need to keep reading, too, because no way am I giving out any spoilers!

Populated with characters who are sociopathic, narcissistic, and arrogant, the story makes it difficult to find anyone to root for. But who cares? The action blasts along in visually wrought scenes that would work brilliantly at the moving picture show, the story is interesting with a number of twists, and the ending is ultimately satisfying.

Sensitive readers are warned that the book has a great deal of graphic violence. Additionally, if you like a book where the evil characters are capable of change or redemption, skip this one. Raymond is a real bad guy. However, if you are a fan of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series and other dark suspense/thriller writers, you will probably enjoy The Contestant.

You can purchase The Contestant on Amazon.com. At the time of this review, the book is available for $2.99 and is also available in the Kindle Unlimited program.