Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review: The Return of Cassandra Todd


When the popular girl whose friends bullied him in high school suddenly re-enters his life, little son in tow, Turner Caldwell must put the past behind him if they are to survive.

Turner Caldwell works at a local motel as a handyman while attending college full-time. On his way to class one day, he is shocked to see Cassandra Todd and her young son in town. The sight of her brings back powerful memories of being bullied in high school—she was the popular head cheerleader and he the target of her friends’ mean-spirited pranks.

When Cassandra and her son check into the motel where he works and she asks for his help in eluding her abusive husband, he finds himself entangled in a dangerous drama that will require him to forgive and draw on every skill he has if they are to survive.

My thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed The Return of Cassandra Todd (Realms) and am glad to discover the writing of Darrel Nelson. Set in modern-day Denver, this stand-alone novel addresses the issue of spousal abuse and its effects on the family. Darrel's writing is tight, with no unnecessary words, and flows easily. He also gives vivid descriptions of Denver and the beautiful mountain scenery surrounding it. While primarily a relationship drama, there are elements of suspense as Cassandra flees from her abusive husband in order to protect their son. I'm not usually a fan of suspense, but this aspect was done very well.

Darrel has a gift for creating down-to-earth characters who you feel right at home with. Turner spent four years after high school graduation working at a Christian youth camp for troubled teens, developing both outdoor and maintenance skills in the process. Forced out due to budget cuts, he becomes the handyman at Colorado's Mountain View Motel, run by the whiny but loveable Harvey and his nurturing wife, Loretta. Cassandra was a popular high school cheerleader who later married the star football player, Brad, who thrived on bullying the younger Turner.

Turner's faith is weak, while Cassandra has a strong faith which serves her well during the time of crisis she faced.  Anyone who has seen God place special people in their life during much-needed times can relate to this story. Cassandra believes that Turner was the answer to her prayers, the one person who could help, and recalls the story of Esther in the Bible. "I believe you were led to us because you were the only one who had the skills to do what you did. . . . I believe you were raised up for such a time as this."

I was impressed by the insight into his characters that Darrel shows, as well as the wisdom with which he infuses them. Rather than having a chance to become reacquainted and build on their relationship, Turner and Cassandra were forced into a situation where they had to rely upon each other, and that bonded them in a special way - yet would that bond prove to be a strong foundation for love? The uplifting ending is different from what we normally see in Christian fiction, and I found it both moving and realistic.

I highly recommend The Return of Cassandra Todd to all readers and look forward to more from Darrel Nelson.

Darrel Nelson

       "I have always loved to write. I started writing stories before I was old enough to realize I was writing stories. It seemed a natural thing to pick up a pencil and paper and create a world simply by using words—worlds of adventure in steaming jungles (Tarzan was an early influence on me) or realms of adventure in outer space (Buck Rogers). But as I have grown older, I have discovered that the real inspiration for me is exploring the theme of love and how it can make such a difference in the world.
       "I am currently working on my third novel, Following Rain, which deals with the saving power of truth and love."

Visit Darrel's website at to learn more.

This book was provided by Booketeria in exchange for my honest review.


  1. This looks like a wonderful story that may need a box of tissues to read. I think alot of people do not realize the impact bullying has on others or the lasting impact. Wonderful review. Thank you for introducing me to this author.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing, Katrina. Thankfully I never experienced bullying, but neither was I part of the "in crowd," so I can only imagine the devastating effects of bullying. I hope you get to read some of Darrel Nelson's writing.