By Vannetta Chapman
Jacobs Family, #1
Home is where our story begins . . .
Dana Jacobs would rather forget the night of tragedy and violence that marred her childhood. She is now supervisor in charge of the Department of Homeland Security in Taos, New Mexico. Her team is prepared to handle any threat—biological, chemical, conventional, cyber, even nuclear. Benjamin Marshall is newly assigned to Dana’s office. Straight from a six year military deployment, he is not what Dana wants or needs.
Ben knows God has a reason for putting him in this place at this time—to help Dana. When a local school is threatened, they open a case which leads them on a chase through the Enchanted Circle and Carson National Forest, pursuing a man filled with a bitterness Dana can understand. But her anger is different. It’s justified, it remains hidden inside, and it hurts no one.
Can Dana face her own mortality? And when she does, can she truly understand what it means to forgive and to be forgiven?
Have you ever picked up a book where the characters, steadily developing romance, plot, and setting all came together in such a way that you wanted to prolong the reading experience? That perfectly describes the way I felt about Vannetta Chapman's first romantic suspense novel, Hidden. I have long enjoyed Vannetta's Amish stories, and I'm not much of a suspense fan - so I literally found myself asking, Who are you, Vannetta Chapman, that you can write in such contrasting styles and effortlessly capture my emotions?
I simply think the quality of Vannetta's prose transcends the genre in which she is writing. Top-notch suspense and romance are strong elements, but it was the characterization, gentle humor, and sense of place that kept me engaged. There's good character depth - but more than that, it's like Vannetta really knows and is comfortable with her cast of characters and is able to convey that realism to the reader. Taos, New Mexico, is a fascinating setting and Vannetta did a great job bringing out the local flavor, culture, and natural beauty. Be sure to check out Vannetta's Pinterest board for Hidden.
Carson National Forest, Taos
Dana and Ben are strong, appealing lead characters. Tough, smart, and extremely capable, Dana has risen to the top of her field as a local director of Homeland Security. Ben is all that a hero should be - brave, protective, and faithful, a former military leader who took the Homeland Security job "to keep American towns from being torn apart like the ones in Iraq had been." And while Dana lives with a painful past, disillusioned with God, Ben is comfortable in a faith that strengthens and sustains him.
One of the most moving characters is the elderly Apache, Tafoya, a man who honors the way of his people, but has embraced Christ . . . "This is what gives me peace, knowing I will be united with my son and even my wife who went before him. This is why I can work each day and do so with the strength of the hawk and the peace of the deer."
The spiritual themes woven throughout really brought everything home for me. Ben firmly believes that God guides his steps and that he has been placed on Dana’s team for a reason. Another thought is that God's plans are not the same as ours - something I know, yet always need gentle reminders. But it was Ben's words to Dana that especially spoke to me: "Sometimes we can accept God did the tremendous things - like create those stars you're staring at. Then we try to believe He can heal a fawn, or a person, and we stumble. Our belief falters."
Hidden is an impressive story on many levels, one that will be on my "best of" list for 2014 because of how much I enjoyed it. Highly recommended.
Hidden is independently published, but don't let that discourage you from picking it up, because this story stands out in comparison to much that is traditionally published. Hidden can be purchased online at Amazon and B&N for the very reasonable ebook price of $3.99.
Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, was a 2012 ACFW Carol Award winner for best mystery. She writes Amish mysteries for Zondervan, Amish romances for Harvest House and Amish novellas for Harper Collins Christian Publishing. All of her books have been Christian Book Distributor bestsellers. Hidden is her first inspirational romantic suspense. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband, pets and a herd of deer.
Connect with Vannetta online at vannettachapman.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Thank you to Vannetta Chapman for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.