Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guest Blogger Review: An Aria for Nick

I would like to occasionally share book reviews from some of my outstanding blogger friends - and the first is the delightful Sarah Baker. Sarah regularly blogs at God, Books, & Chocolate (learn more about Sarah at the end of this post). I don't read a lot of suspense and her review of An Aria for Nick intrigued me, so please enjoy Sarah's thoughts below . . .

An Aria for Nick
By Hallee Bridgeman
Song of Suspense, #2
Olivia Kimbrell Press, 2013


        Raised in a loving home, Aria Suarez dreamed of becoming a professional pianist happily married to her high school crush. After the only boy who ever caught her eye dies a hero's death and her wrist is shattered along with her future plans, she turns her brilliant musical mind to nuclear engineering and solving mysteries of science.
        Abandoned to an abusive father at five, Nick Williams grew up dreaming of escape; of enlisting in the Army and leaving his wretched life behind; of proving himself worthy of the girl he loves. But the crucible of combat offers only the escape of death.
        A decade later, Aria uncovers a nuclear plot that threatens the heart of our very nation. Sinister forces surround and threaten her when, out of nowhere, the man who reportedly died so many years before returns as if from the grave - intent on protecting her. Has God finally joined them together? Or is Aria doomed to mourn Nick twice?

Hallee Bridgeman
        Hallee Bridgeman lives with her husband and their three children in small town Kentucky. When not writing Christian romantic suspense novels or penning cookbooks, she blogs about all things cooking and homemaking at her Hallee the Homemaker blog.
        Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit.
        (Description [italics mine] and book cover from Christian Book. About the author copied from book. No infringement intended.)

Sarah's Review: 4.5 stars

A new favorite! An Aria for Nick is the second book in Hallee Bridgeman’s Song of Suspense series. I’m a big fan of Ms. Bridgeman’s books and loved this one as well!

While this is book two, technically, you don’t have to read them in order. The plots don’t overlap or anything. Several of the characters come back in this one (or are at least mentioned) and you might miss an inside joke or two, but that’s about it. I do highly recommend reading all of Hallee’s books, if you get the chance, but this one easily stands on its own.

Hallee has this wonderful talent for creating unlikely characters and making them incredibly real. For instance, Aria Suarez is a concert pianist-turned nuclear engineer. I would never have even come up with that combination, but I loved Aria and everything that made her who she is. She is obviously extremely smart, but is still very down-to-Earth. She is kind and caring, but also determined and stubborn. She has built a new life for herself after losing Nick and has moved on, somewhat, though she has never forgotten him. I loved her reaction when she first meets him again - it was very realistic, though I personally, I probably would have slapped him for what he did to Aria.

Nicholas “Nick” Williams “died” 12 years before, leaving everything to the young woman he loved. Honestly, I hated him a little for that, at first. After getting to know him and learning why he made that decision, I forgave him. It’s also really hard to hate someone as sweet and kind as Nick, even though he often hides those qualities. He is one of those macho, somewhat silent types. Though I don’t blame him for not wanting to talk about his past. The glimpses we get of it explain a lot and made me mourn for him a little bit; all he had lost and the regret he lived with.

I actually really enjoyed Aria and Nick’s relationship. It surprised me, but in a good way. I was a little concerned that it was going to be the same thing over and over, with Aria constantly nagging him about lying to her. I should have known better, this is Hallee Bridgeman we‘re talking about, after all. I loved watching their relationship grow through out the book, from the teenage feelings in high school, to the people they are now. Seeing them reconnect and get to know each other anew was great. I also enjoyed their banter and how they challenge one another. Aria pushed Nick, forcing him out of his comfort zone. He returned the favor by challenging her to face her fears head on and do the hard things required of her. I loved getting to know both of them through the other’s eyes.

The suspense and mystery were great as well! A couple things were a little obvious, but there were also some surprises along the way that kept me guessing. This book wasn’t extremely suspenseful, but it had its moments. A lot of it was Aria and Nick investigating and putting the pieces together, but I that actually made me respect Hallee more, as an author. She has a great talent for making the story fascinating and for drawing readers in, without having to have nonstop action to keep you hooked.

The spiritual content wasn’t in the forefront as much as in some of her previous books, but I can understand why. Aria and Nick are both already Christians, so that saved a lot of discussion and it probably would have seemed unrealistic if they had had a lot of talks about it, while on the run. What was there was skillfully woven in so that there was just enough, but not overpowering anything else. The same is true of the descriptions and details. They enhanced an already wonderful story, but in no way overwhelmed it.

I only have two complaints and they are mostly little nitpicky things. The beginning seemed a little slow to me, though looking back, I can understand why Hallee spent that time on it. It helped later on, to have the background. Also, there were a couple times where the point of view seemed to shift for just a sentence or two to a secondary character that Nick was talking with. It confused me for a moment, but I was able to move past it quickly, so it didn’t bother me much.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy excellent writing with fascinating characters, and mystery/suspense.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through The Book Club Network for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.


Sarah Baker
Sarah writes:  "The most important thing to know about me is that I am a Christian.  I don’t take that title lightly and do my best to emulate Christ, though I know I often fall short.  I am also a book addict and a word enthusiast.  I am a writer by design, but not by trade (yet) and I have a weakness for anything cute and fluffy."

Be sure to visit Sarah's blog, God, Books, & Chocolate.

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