Santa Fe Sunrise
By Tanya Stowe
Pelican Book Group, 2015
Brett Fraser has quit his job, loaded his earthly possessions into his black sports car and headed out to find himself in the great Southwest. Somewhere on his successful climb up the corporate ladder, he lost sight of the man God intended him to be. But Brett intends to find himself again.
Rafaela De Silva has an art gallery to run, a sprawling piece of family property with back taxes due, and a younger sister to care for who suffers from anorexia. She doesn't have time for broken shoe laces, sprained ankles or tumbling into the arms of a handsome stranger, especially one whose past involves scandal.
Brett's determined to help the beautiful runner he rescues from a fall. After examining the smooth edges of her broken shoelace, he's convinced her accident wasn't accidental. But if he's going to help her, he'll have to convince her to trust him, a difficult task given his past.
Under the sun-kissed skies of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Brett must rediscover his purpose in life before he loses Rafaela forever. Who is trying to harm Rafaela? Will she live long enough for Brett to win her heart?
You never know what you’re going to find when you try a new author – but in this case, it was a gem. Tanya Stowe packed all the essential elements for a good read into Santa Fe Sunrise – well developed characters who pull at the heartstrings, mesmerizing setting, entertaining plot with elements of mystery, and inspiration. From paintings, to art galleries, to ancient artifacts, the artistic element immediately drew me in. Those who have read Tanya’s previous book, Sedona Sunset, will recognize a few characters, but this book stands alone.
I love it when a beautiful setting almost becomes a major character, and that is what Tanya has vividly done here. Santa Fe was a melding of “Native American and Mexican culture. New Age artists and cowboys. All of them clashing together in a flavor so distinct, it fascinated Brett.” And it fascinated me as well! Mountains and brightly-colored sky, Pueblo style homes, gardens tucked behind stucco fences and bright-colored gates came alive as I read. Tanya is gifted at scenic descriptions and all of this added much richness to the story.
The major characters had a depth that made them seem real, and they captivated me as well. Brett has a tender and caring nature, and Rafaela loves her family to the extent of feeling a protectiveness and responsibility to provide for them – while Brett just wants to keep Rafaela safe. Lucia, Rafaela’s mom, has a strong faith in God that provides a spiritual foundation for the family. I loved her words to Brett: “You are not our savior, Brett, but your friendship is a gift from God.” And artistically gifted Sofia, Rafaela’s sister, stole my heart as she struggled with nightmares and anorexia. I don’t know what Tanya has planned, but I hope we see more of Sophia.
Suspense comes from I.C.E.’s tracking the path of illegally obtained Chaco pottery sold on the black market – along with the fact that a valuable archaeological site just might be located on Rafaela’s property. And in thinking about southwestern flavor, I have to mention one of my favorite scenes, that of Rafaela and Lucia performing the flamenco.
I also appreciated the strong spiritual element that was woven throughout – the importance of relying on God’s strength and guidance rather than our own. “Your mistake wasn’t in loving your father. It was in loving him more than God.” Brett’s words to Rafaela speak to all of us, for how easy it is to put something or someone ahead of God in our lives. But I think what touched me most was the way this story presents God as the Master Artist, reflected in Brett’s thoughts: “He might not know where or how he fit into it, but one thing was clear, God had a plan. Anyone who’d witnessed these spectacular sights had to recognize the Master Artist at work.”
Santa Fe Sunrise is a beautiful story, romantic suspense with rich character depth. Recommended.
Novelist Tanya Stowe has had eclectic career. Working as a freelance writer, her profiles have featured celebrities such as Fabio and New York Times Bestselling authors LaVyrle Spencer, Shirlee Busbee, and Heather Graham. Tanya wrote grants, participated in a collection of women’s survival stories and collaborated on a full length Christmas musical. She also worked as a marketing assistant, and an event coordinator doing a stint with the American Cancer Society.
Find Tanya online at tanyastowe.com and Facebook.
Thank you to Tanya Stowe and Singing Librarian Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Visit the Singing Librarian book tour page to enter the giveaway for an e-copy of Santa Fe Sunrise.