Smoke Screen ~ A New Story from a Favorite Author!
I heard a writing teacher say once that it’s much harder to write a truly good character than to write a flawed one. She said that readers would dislike the “perfect” people. I thought I’d feel that way about the hero of Smoke Screen. After Nate nobly saved an entire family (and their dog) from their burning home, then worried more about his team than about his own injuries, he was looking a little too good to be true. Ho-hum. But then the author did her trademark thing: she made his life messy. She gave him a very complicated family. She gave him a bad reputation. Now, he was a genuinely good and likable guy, but he was interesting, too. Terri Blackstock is really good at that!
The heroine was easier to dislike – a weak woman with a drinking problem, when she should have been stronger and stayed sober if she really wanted to keep her kids. Instead, she wallowed in self-pity and hopelessness. So irritating. But… just as she has in so many other books, Terri Blackstock took that character and made her real. She was still doing all the wrong things, but now I cared about her. I wanted her to succeed. I could identify with the attitude of her sister,,, I wanted to shake Brenna and then dump out all her hidden bottles of alcohol.
The other characters are solid, too. I like where she went with Brenna’s ex-husband at the end of the book. I have a feeling we’ll see more of the siblings in future books.
This book reminded me of Ms. Blackstock’s earlier series, Moonlighters and Intervention, with their complex family relationships and “real life” problems. The plot is creative, and the relationships feel natural. The Christian content is good. with the characters asking hard and honest questions about God and their lives. I was glad to see a return to the author’s previous style, too – It’s written in alternating first-person past tense, which I greatly prefer to her more recent present-tense stories.
Readers who are looking for her usual suspenseful stories might be disappointed. This one is good, but it’s more of a romance and mystery, with hints of women’s fiction in the family relationships, which are a major element of the book.
I recommend it!
About the Book
Book: Smoke Screen
Author: Terri Blackstock
Genre: Christian Suspense
Release Date: November 5, 2019
One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.
Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.
Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.
Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.
As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.
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About the Author
Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com; Facebook: tblackstock; Twitter: @terriblackstock
Excerpt from Smoke Screen
I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.
An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”
T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”
“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”
“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”
I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”
“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”
It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.
“The family. Were they injured?”
“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”
“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”
“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”
I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.
“I won’t need a month,” I said.
“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”
I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”
“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”
Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.
Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.