This is a story that slowly builds in intensity as the chapters move forward. The mystery is on the page almost from page one, but doesn't acquire suspense pacing until the last quarter of the book. And there are many layers to the story and mystery. They all weave together artfully in the end. Gathering Shadows also has the small town charm of Nancy Mehl's prior romantic mystery series and the wide cast of appealing characters which will bring readers back for the next installments in the series. There is romance in the story, but it didn't quite fit for me. Given more time in the story's timeline, I think I would have enjoyed that part. Still this book will be a pleasant read for those who love a romantic mystery set in simpler settings like the Mennonite Sanctuary.
Wynter Evans is an aspiring journalist with a Missouri TV network, on assignment in the tiny Mennonite town of Sanctuary with her colleague, photographer Zac Weikal. But she's got another motive: she's searching for her brother, Ryan, who was kidnapped several years earlier. Reuben King is the young and handsome mayor of Sanctuary, who agrees to work with Wynter despite opposition from some of the townspeople.
Gathering Shadows starts off as a predictable romance in an Amish/Mennonite setting, but soon turns into something more. It's written entirely from Wynter's point of view. As we get to know her better, her past begins to collide with the present and we start to realise there is more of a mystery than whether the mystery Mennonite boy is Wynter's long-lost brother. Why don't the townspeople want her in Sanctuary? And who is leaving her mysterious notes?
It's a plot that grabbed and kept my attention, both in the mystery and the strong characters. The Christian elements were solid but not preachy. The one weakness of Gathering Shadows was the romance. It took a long time to get started, and I wasn't convinced they spent sufficient time together to form a lasting relationshipâ€”or that there was any chemistry. However, the mystery-thriller aspect of the plot was excellent, and I'd certainly read more by Nancy Mehl.
Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free book for review.
Although this is a new series, I loved being back in Sanctuary, and visiting with some of our old friends. This new series is awesome, and I had to keep turning the pages, as my heart went into my throat.
As you will learn from reading the back of the book, Emily, or Wynter, has been missing her brother since he was kidnapped, or murdered when he was seven. I can't even imagine, the pain and hopelessness of such a tragic happening in a family. While Wynter has gone on with her life, and is now news reported with an St Louis TV channel, she is ever alert to finding her brother, the not knowing and seeing him in different places. She has another hunch and is now in Sanctuary, and a lot of people are not happy about her being there, and will she finally be right? Is there any possibility that this Mennonite town holds clues to what happened to Ryan?
Can a healing happen here, even if answers are not found, trying to comprehend what an event of this nature would and did do to a family. I did love how God placed his hand on all, even Zac the cocky photographer sent with Wynter. Of course, Wynter's faith has been shattered with the pain that has happened in her young life.
Meet the honorary mayor Rueben King, which we have met before, who takes an instant like to Wynter, the career girl and rather lost soul. These people are such sweet caring individuals; they don't even lock their doors. After some of the events that happen, maybe they should? Don't miss this great suspense novel, and read more about the Old Order Mennonites.
I received this book through Bethany House Publishers for my read, and was not required to give a positive review
"Some people are willing to protect their secrets at all costs."
For investigative reporter Wynter Evans, she has never given up hope of finding her brother Ryan who was kidnapped when he was only seven from their neighborhood. That one even destroyed more than her faith in God, it quite literally destroyed the family as she knew it. Her father soon divorced her mother and moved on to start his life with another woman. For Wynter's mother, she feel into a dark depression believing that her husband was the reason for Ryan's kidnapping and can't find forgiveness in her heart. For Wynter, she is plagued by nightmares where Ryan is begging her to not give up the search to find him. So she won't.
Now if she can only convince the station manager to go out on a limb for a community interest story involving a small Mennonite town known as Sanctuary. She hopes his interest in finding remote locations that he can highlight on their news station to garner public interest will give her just the break she is looking for. She has more than one motive for gaining time away to head to Sanctuary. Besides the human interest story for her station, she has been sent a photo of a young Mennonite teen who bears the remarkable similarities of her missing brother. But before she can involve the police, she must find a way to meet with this young man to know for sure. She only hopes it is him and perhaps finding him will help restore the family she has lost.
What she didn't plan on was the town treating her arrival with less than heart warming intentions. It seems that the residents of Sanctuary would rather their town be kept remote and quite like the name suggests. It seems that people who live in Sanctuary have a reason for wanting to settle in a town that pretty much keeps to itself and protects their own at all costs. Still Wynter has to try and with the help of the town's unofficial mayor, Rueben King, she hopes he can connect the dots and find a way to meet the young man who now goes by the name of Elijah Fisher. Only it's not just the town of Sanctuary who holds secrets as Wynter's investigation into the disappearance of her brother, now leads to a threat on her life. Will she be able to uncover what she is looking for before she loses her own life?
I received Gathering Shadows from Nancy Mehl compliments of Bethany House Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own opinion. This is the first novel in the Finding Sanctuary series from Nancy and for me, it was a hit. I can't imagine what it must be like for someone like Wynter who wonders if every person she sees is really her missing brother. As the search draws closer, soon she and Rueben are the targets of someone who wants their investigation to come to a halt and if they don't, they will stop at nothing to ensure secrets remain in the shadows. I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars and I can't wait for more in this series. If you love a great mystery coupled with romance, than you will love this one.
Gathering Shadows has heart-pounding action from page one. Ms. Mehl possesses an excellent writing style that allows the novel to flow quickly while also incorporating an admirable amount of detail. The main characters are likable and slightly mysterious, adding to the thrill of the plot. The events of the book all link together in a creative fashion and the novel is not predictable or boring in any sense. Twists and turns throughout the book provide significant depth to the plot as the reader navigates through the intriguing journey with the heroine. Suspenseful and delightful, this novel is highly enjoyable and greatly recommended.
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.