Carny Sullivan was named aptly for the world she grew up in. Her parents worked on a travelling carnival who taught her to see the world through very different eyes than most. She was raised to trick, con and steal almost anything. Which gave her an ability to read people far deeper than most could.
Now living in a quiet "Mayberry" types town in Texas she doesn't need to use that skill much, until Logan Brisco strolls into town. His slick and saavy ways are no match for her insight, until he finds a way past her head and into her heart. Then he has to pull off the greatest con ever in his life ... the truth.
This story held so many great elements for me. The best part was the intriguing relationship between Logan and Carny. The back and forth banter that ignited their interest in each other was fun to read and be a part of. Ms. Blackstock did a fantastic job of getting into the head of a swindler both present and past. It is like a ex-con trying to catch a con. Fun to read!
As for the plot, although it was not a suspenseful book it was definitely anything but predictable. For a 315 page story, I still didn't know how the author would finally unite the hero with his prize until page 310. (Don't peek if you haven't read it - you'll miss the best parts!)
I also appreciated the spiritual arc of the characters. In particular Logan 's journey felt real and authentic to me. This is an important element for books that I enjoy.
There were only two areas in the book that I would mention in my dislikes. (And they are quite small.) The first was in the form of dialogue. There is a young boy in the story who is age 7/8. He speaks with too much wisdom and understanding much of the time as well as seems like an informant at others (speaking info that the reader needed to know). I felt that his innocence needed to be more evident especially in light of the way his mother had chosen to raise him away from the world that taught her so much in the opposite.
The last comment I would make is that there is a decision that Carny, the heroine makes towards the end of the book. It is crucial to the plot and helps make the ending so satisfying. By the end of the story I knew exactly why Ms. Blackstock wrote it that way but I could not reject the notion that it seemed too out of character for Carny. From the way I got to know the woman in the story she wouldn't have done it that way. However perhaps you may find as you read the story that you do not agree with me. This particular 'flaw' does not reflect negatively on the outcome or satisfaction of the story. I still give the book two thumbs up. Way up!
I received a free copy of this title from Shelby Sledge representing Zondervan Publishers and Terri Blackstock in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to give a positive response.
Shadow in Serenity by Terry Blackstock was an enjoyable way for me to pass the hours during a long ride back home from visiting family. This was not what I would call a typical Terry Blackstock book -- not the "stay-up-all-night" suspenseful page turner like so many of her others -- but it was a story well worth my time!
"You can't con a con" -- or can you? Logan Brisco smoothly works his way into the small town of Serenity, Texas, endearing himself to practically everyone in town as he lays the groundwork for his biggest con yet. What he doesn't expect, though, is to run into the likes of Carny Sullivan, a free-spirited woman who grew up as the daughter of carnival workers and learned the art of cheating unsuspecting marks. Carny appears to be the only one in town who can see through Logan's facade and tries to warn the friends she has made in her new hometown. Carny sees Logan as a threat to Serenity, and Logan sees Carny as a challenge to his well-honed skills. Will Carny be able to stand strong, or will Logan's scheming win her over?
My enjoyment of this story increased as I learned the "back story" of the book. This was a rewrite of one of the last books Terri Blackstock wrote on the secular market, before she was convicted to only write stories that honor God. By removing some elements and adding others, she was able to share a story that she loved in a way that (in Terri's own words) "more closely fit my worldview and my Christian conscience." As a Christian who enjoys and appreciates the work of talented writers who hold true to their faith, I say, "Thank you, Terri Blackstock, for sharing your gift." (Terri shares more about this story at her website: http://www.terriblackstock.com/journal/.)
This was a fun read! Terry Blackstock is not an author I'm familiar with, but I did enjoy the story. This is a novel with enough punch to keep you entertained and enough depth to keep you thinking. Carny Sullivan is a woman who is going out of her way to prove that the newest guy in town is a con man. That she knows what they look like all too well is understood, but the town is not as interested in her suspicions as they are in the pipe dreams one Logan Brisco is selling.
Carny herself has been transformed by God's grace, but is she intent on selling God short in his ability to transform others? Is Logan who he claims to be or will he hurt the entire town and care not at all? These are questions that propel the story along. I found myself rooting for Carny, Logan, and the town even though many times their activities were at cross-purposes. That is the beauty of good characters, they can turn you into a schizophrenic_sometimes you want all the guys to win, the good, the bad, and the neutral!
Punctuated with colorful stories of grifting, carnivals, and heartfelt emotion, this is a good book to read on a warm beach, or curled up next to a fire with a hot cocoa. Enjoy your trip to Serenity, Texas. I know I did.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Shadow in Serenity is the type of story that sticks with you after you finish the book. Not only is it well-written, but it made me cry a few times. There were some precious, yet heart-wrenching scenes in this story that rang so true I forgot several times that I was reading fiction. The people in the story seemed real to me. I loved the characters' arcs as well. The theme about childhood always being with you and shaping who you are--but that didn't mean you couldn't change--was very inspirational and emotionally moving. There were a lot of things about this story that were powerful. It's hard to say much without spoiling it for the reader, but I will say that this is a beautiful and touching love story about learning to trust and discovering hope for the future.
I have always been a believer in change, but not many books show just how difficult and scary it is for people to really do that. The ability to trust is not possible when someone is continually guarding their heart and closing themselves off to others. Then to learn that change was possible and to desire that so much that you are willing to risk everything? That was so well done and so convincing that I couldn't help but fall for Logan myself. He really did want to experience love and not be lonely anymore. The story of his childhood that he shared with Jason was so touching that it was impossible not to cry. I felt a bit panicked toward the end along with Carny. The author did a very convincing job of setting everything up. This was the perfect romantic suspense and I'll still be thinking about the story days from now. Because of that and a number of other reasons it's making my best fiction list for this year.
I received this book from Zondervan Publishing free for the purpose of a review. It can be a good or bad review.
Great story line and kept me reading reading reading from the beginning to the end. How does a former "carny" know a con man? Because she had learned the not so pleasant job of being a con artist very early in her life. Having been born to parents that are grifters Carny Sullivan wants more out of life than just traveling from one place to another as a carnival kid.
Serenity is everything Carny wants in a place to land, have a home and settle down. Having come to Serenity with her new husband.....she finds many things that she loves and makes the decision to change her life.
Enter Logan Brisco, good looking, smooth talking, and a dream or con as big as all outdoors and confusion begins to shake Serenity......Carny Sullivan sees thru him but.....can she convince her precious Serenity friends and family......