By Susan Crawford
Heart of the City, #1
Redbud Press, 2015
After losing her brother to gang-related violence, elementary schoolteacher Kinley is on a mission to help her at-risk students. When one of them, Justice, is caught in an act of vandalism, she intervenes.
Entrepreneur Nash McGuire has gone to great lengths to overcome the poverty he grew up in. When working on a renovation project in his old neighborhood he collides with a juvenile delinquent and his do-gooder teacher.
Kinley believes Justice can overcome the influence of his environment; Nash knows the odds and has little patience with Kinley’s naivety. But as the boy’s mandatory community service forces Justice and Kinley into Nash’s life, he can’t help but discover a boy searching for love and purpose–a boy very much like he once was.
Then Justice is accused of another crime. And Kinley’s stubborn belief in the boy’s innocence is just too much for Nash to accept…
Saving Justice is book #1 in Susan Crawford's Heart of the City series, and that series title couldn't be more appropriate because it focuses on the strength of this story: heart. This light, sweet contemporary romance is set in Oklahoma City and has an urban, inner city theme - heartbreaking and full of hope at the same time.
With its drugs and poverty, the community of Martindale is an area many would turn their back on - yet fourth-grade teacher Kinley pours her life into these children, believing that good role models and mentors can make all the difference in the world. I've seen how the giving of time, attention and love can make a needy child blossom and was drawn to Kinley, even though she seemed a little naïve at times, especially when it came to personal safety.
"Nothing short of a miracle could change Cade McGuire,
and Nash hadn't witnessed any miracles lately."
One of my favorite parts was the contrast between Nash and his younger brother, Cade. Having worked hard to claw his way out of his past in Martindale, the successful Nash thrived on control and almost went into panic mode as he fought against being dragged back. To Nash, "no matter how successful his life seemed, it would always be one mistake away from crumbling." On the other hand, Cade, after having spent six years in prison, became a Christian at a Rescue Mission and wants to give back to the community. I liked Cade and hope to see more of him in this series.
At slightly under 200 pages, it's difficult for an author to provide the depth I'd like to see. For instance, the premise of Saving Justice was very appealing and I was intrigued by Nash and Kelly, but I craved more character depth, more showing rather than telling. Susan is a very capable writer, however, and I'm sure she will only improve with experience.
I loved the double meaning behind the title, Saving Justice, and admired Kinley's ability to look beyond behavior and see all that a child could be - which is exactly the way Christ sees us. For me, any weaknesses in this story were overcome by its "heart" and I enjoyed it overall. I'm definitely interested in reading more of Susan's stories.
Susan Crawford is an author of inspirational contemporary romance, published by Redbud Press. Before publication, her debut novel, Saving Justice, was named a finalist in the 2014 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis writing contest. Susan lives in Oklahoma City, where she happily crams writing in between being a wife, mom, and small business owner.
Meet Susan online at susancrawfordbooks.com, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Thank you to Redbud Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.