Y’all, I love reading. (I also realize that I start conversations with that sentence structure all the time because Christy from Business Boutique does and it has worked its way into my vocabulary.) I love books that draw me into the plot, that are exciting and fun. But I have to admit, some of my favorite books are the ones that make me think, that make me ask questions I forget to ask or even questions I had never considered. Shadows of Deception, Ashley Dawn’s latest novel in the Shadows series I’ve been reviewing on the blog, well, it made me ask questions.
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#1 Will I Drop Everything for Family?
Ashley’s cast of characters includes a protective (sometimes overprotective!) gaggle of siblings and cousins that will drop everything, buy a plane ticket, set aside their own job or their own business, to help a family member…even if the need isn’t voiced, even if lil sis doesn’t think she needs the help. I was challenged by this the same way I was challenged by Katniss in The Hunger Games (one of my all-time favorites). Now, bear in mind that Ashley’s characters have a lot more flexibility in their jobs and responsibilities than many of us do.
I would like to think I would do anything for family. But while it’s absolutely appropriate to set healthy boundaries, whether with family, friends, work, ministry, etc…sometimes I can be pretty selfish about my schedule. Sometimes it takes a little guilt trip action to get me to participate. I haven’t found the right balance here; I’d like to think I would come running in a true emergency, but would my family ask me? Would they know I would be willing?
#2 Do I put my job before God?
Tracey (leading lady) asks this question after realizing how she gets all fired up about getting work done, solving a case, to the point that she neglects her personal relationship with God sometimes. I don’t (usually) think I put my “day” job before God. But…I have definitely put my own personal activities and, yes, my ministry responsibilities, ahead of my relationship with God. I get the things done, but sometimes at the loss of quality time with God. That whole Mary/Martha thing. We need both. We need to do the things, but we really do need to have that quality Jesus time too.
#3 Why does this one evil act get my attention, but not all the others?
In Shadows of Deception, Tracey asks “why?” It’s a real question that we need to let ourselves ask. God can handle it. Why did God allow those girls to die? Colorado responds with some biblical truth that came off a little too resolved and a little too preachy for my taste. The “we just need to trust God” bit is true, but it isn’t actionable. It doesn’t give us a place to wrestle or a path forward. (And Tracey is way too satisfied by his answer.)
To the author’s credit, Colorado does say that his response “doesn’t make anything we’ve seen ok by any stretch of the imagination but it does bring it in focus a bit.” And he also responded with a really great question: tragedies and evil happen every day. Why did this one make me doubt God, but not the others? “The fact that it happened on my ranch and that I witnessed it firsthand is what made me question and doubt.”
It’s a really good point.
There’s a lot of evil in our broken world. God is making all things new, but until the “already-not yet” work is complete, a lot of bad things happen. Sometimes we become calloused or numb to all the tragedy around us. It’s a tough balance. I can’t put my attention on every tragedy or every evil act; I’m one person and don’t have the mental or emotional bandwidth to handle it all – even to pray for it all. Instead I try to pay attention to what is in my local sphere of influence, or maybe some special situation elsewhere that God has put on my heart. But truthfully, sometimes I just tune out all the problems. So my question for me, and for you: what piece of brokenness in my own circle of influence, my own neighborhood, do I need to pay attention to, pray for, act on?
Would I recommend Shadows of Deception?
Yes – with some caveats. It’s not the most polished, which can sometimes be distracting. And I mentioned above the “too easy” answer to “Why did God allow this to happen?” But I think Ashley is trying to tackle the tough topics in a biblical way that gives people room to struggle. The execution isn’t quite there, but I’m excited to watch her grow as a writer, including in the way she approaches the tough stuff.
Shadows of Deception is on tour with Celebrate Lit
To celebrate her tour, Ashley is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops at the end of this post for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d8a3/shadows-of-deception-celebration-tour-giveaway
About the Book
Book: Shadows of Deception
Author: Ashley Dawn
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: May 1, 2018
A short getaway to a nice Texas ranch isn’t why Tiffany is at Colorado’s home. She is a seasoned LA PI and used to the fast paced life. The problems on the ranch are different from what she is used to but she is determined to solve them one way or another. There is one slight problem—a tall dark and handsome cowboy distracting her and occupying more and more of her thoughts.
“…I would hate for anything to happen to remove you from my favor…or organization.”
Danger on the ranch is real and escalating quickly. Colorado doesn’t know who to trust or what is coming next. The thing he does know is Tiffany Reiley is the woman he wants for the job.
Thinking the case will be quick and easy to solve, Tiffany doesn’t anticipate the depth of the horrors she has stepped into.
As Colorado and Tiffany’s attraction grows, the danger gets closer. Will God guide them to the answers they are so desperately searching for?
Click here to purchase your copy!
Author Ashley Dawn was born and raised in rural Arkansas where she developed her love for writing while helping in her parent’s office. She graduated with an accounting degree from the University of Central Arkansas but is currently working as a legal assistant.
Ashley has been writing professionally for the past twelve years and has four published books. Her Shadows Series include Shadows From The Past, Shadows of Suspicion, Shadows of Pain, and Shadows of Deception. She is currently working on multiple projects including the fifth in her ‘Shadows’ series entitled “Shadows in Black and White” and also a standalone suspense titled ‘One of Their Own’. She and her family make their home in Texas.
Guest Post from Ashley
Shadows of Deception was a fun book to write.
I love writing my Shadows books because the characters have become so ‘real’ for me. The Reiley family is a large, close family. Each of the siblings is their own person with their own life, but they will always be there for each other.
Deception focuses on Tiffany Reiley. Tiffany loves her family completely, but in such a big family, feels like she has to prove herself. She isn’t looking for a man, and certainly not a man like Colorado. Her story honestly didn’t unfold as I had planned, I wrote it one way but it felt forced and like I was making my characters do things that didn’t fit their personalities. Letting the story just ‘flow’ and the characters be themselves was scary and thrilling at the same time.
There is a touch of difficult subject matter, but for me the story is more about how God is in our lives no matter what. God is always there and His love for us, even when we don’t feel loveable or deserving is ours for the taking. When we don’t understand why things are happening, He does. My hope is no matter what someone gets from the book, they see God’s love through it.
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