There is a sameness about a lot of Christian novels. The characters are good Christians, whose main faults are emotional, not physical. Veil of Secrets is different. To be blunt, its about sex (not that there are any sex scenes. Its more about the consequences of bad decisions around sex). These are characters who live in the real world, where otherwise intelligent people still sometimes do stupid things, and then have to work out how to live with the consequences. I liked that. Not that the characters did dumb things, but that the authors showed a realness not often seen in novels from Christian publishers.
Veil of Secrets was a more complex book than most I read. There were a lot of characters, and it probably took longer than it should have for me to work out who was related to whom and how. This might have been a bit easier if Id read the first book in the series (To Know You), but reading the first book isnt necessary for the storyVeil of Secrets can be read as a standalone novel.
The other layer of complexity in Veil of Secrets was the plot. As well as the obvious political background of the beginning of a presidential campaign, there was the issues plots: the good Christian career woman who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand, and the broken marriage of a Christian couple. Shannon Ethridge has an extensive background in ministry around healthy sexuality and spirituality, and this comes through in the counselling scenes.
Recommended for mature audiences (meaning that a lot of Christian fiction appeals to a wide age group, from teens to grandparents. This wont. The target reader is probably people like me: young professionals, married women, or parents of teens).
Thanks to BookLookBloggers and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
Secrets, Terrorists, A Family In Trouble and Forgiveness
September 16, 2014
Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel, in their new book, Veil Of Secrets published by Thomas Nelson takes us into the lives of Melanie and Will Connors.
From the back cover: Can a woman faceand forgiveher own painful past before her house of cards crumbles . . . and before her own daughter makes the same mistakes?
Melanie and Will Connors are the perfect power couple. Will is the chief campaign strategist for a rising presidential candidate; Melanie is a prominent advocate for protecting children in an over-sexualized culture. Their devotion to one another is admired, even envied.
But their marriage isnt what it appears to be.
Will maintains an apartment in Washington, DC, and over the years his visits home have grown fewer and farther between. The long-distance marriage has enabled Melanie to avoid intimacyand has only increased her shame about her secretive past. But then Will issues an ultimatum: We work on the marriage . . . or we work on the divorce.
The Connors commit to marriage counseling in the most brutal of environmentssnowy New Hampshire, a tiny state that is first in the nation for presidential primaries and a prize to be won at any cost . . . and the price of victory keeps rising.
As Melanie sifts through the debris of her past, she obsesses over the fear that she hasnt done enough to protect her teenage daughter. When Melanie sees her facing some of the same temptations, she knows she must intervene . . . but how can a woman with so many veiled secrets guide a daughter honestly?
While the country struggles with threats to its integrity and security, Melanie can no longer ignore the dangers looming in her own world. She can never undo the mistakes of her youth, but perhaps she can still save her marriage and familyif she can surrender her guilt and learn to open herself to her husband once again.
Let me start by saying Veil Of Secrets is a tear-jerker. This is not to say this is bad just that it is highly emotional and you should have a box of tissues standing by. A marriage in danger, a wife with secrets, a daughter who may be in danger, a sister-in-law who is in trouble, an alcoholic friend and a terrorist threat these are just some of the ingredients that are woven into this storyline. Secrets need to be revealed, pasts need to be forgiven and the future needs to be embraced. This is the kind of movie that they air on a Sunday night. It has plenty of atmosphere, great characters and an incredible story. Your chores will suffer once you start reading this book because you will not want to put it down. Ms. Ethridge and Ms. Mackel have done an outstanding job.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Suspense Zone for this review. 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 Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Melanie Connors has been through the stress and excitement of a campaign battle before, with her father as the candidate. Now that her husband is running a presidential campaign, and her daughter is involved with the process, she can't ignore the toll it has taken on her marriage and the scars she suffered in her past. Will loves Melanie, but can't seem to break through to her heart to get their marriage back on track. How can they find each other again, in the midst of election chaos, while also dealing with potential terrorists, political scandals, and family trouble all around them?
I've said this before about other books, but it fits well here: this is not an easy book to read. That isn't to say it isn't a good book, or that it doesn't hold the reader's attention, but that there are several trigger areas that may be difficult for many readers. Marriage struggles, infidelity, miscarriage, unplanned pregnancy, statutory rape, drug and alcohol use, and prostitutes - all topics included in this book. Logical in the storyline, dealt with sensitively, but there all the same. The overarching theme of the story is what Will and Melanie have to do to heal their marriage, and whether they're willing to deal with their pasts and their individual mistakes and scars to get to a better place, together. Their storyline is done well; it's not glossed over, it's not made to seem easy, but they both have to put a lot of work into understanding where the other person is coming from. Society frequently tells us that if a marriage is broken, it's easier to dispose of it and move on than to invest in the reparation of the relationship. This book says differently, and it's an important message.
I give this book 4 stars; books that tackle hard topics can't be easy to write, but this book does it well.
I do wish I had known this was book 2, however, because I would have liked knowing some of the characters better from their earlier story.
I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookLook Bloggers program, in exchange for my honest review.
This is a book I really I have mixed feelings about. I liked it, really I did, but there are some things I didnt care for.
So lets start with the good.
The back cover blurb doesnt really do the story justice. There is so much more going on in this book then just the storyline of Melanie and Will. I would say Wills sister, Carrie, has just as much of a part in the book at Melanie and Will.
Theres a lot going on this book and a lot of bouncing back and forth between view points. For that reason I did feel it was difficult to get a good grasp on the characters. But the plot kept me reading. I wanted to see what would happen with each of the characters and there really is never a dull moment.
It was interesting to be in the throes of a political campaign. The authors did a great job of making you feel like you never had a moment to yourself.
The problems between Melanie and Will seemed pretty real. Melanie closes off sexually to her husband and her thoughts are thoughts I could very much relate to.
What I didnt care for so much was all the touching and kissing. Not anything passionate, but it seemed like Carrie was kissing every guy she came in contact with and I didnt know who she really cared for. I suppose this was done to show the intimacy that is gained during a campaign but she even did this with a guy who wasnt part of her campaign.
My other issue with Carrie was she was portrayed as a Christian, as almost everyone else in the book was, but I had trouble finding anyone with strong faith. I think it mightve been more affective to have Carrie seeking, or falling away, but it doesnt seem as if she had a falling out with God or was angry at Him, just that she hoped He wouldnt see her sin as she was about to do it. As someone who did choose sin over Jesus I can say I never prayed during that time, I never asked Him not to see what I was doing. I just didnt talk to Him. That seems more realistic to me than praying that He wouldnt see what I was doing.
I understand that many of us struggle with our faith but I wouldve like to see more stability. I felt like everyone used God instead of relied on Him.
I was also confused by Melanie and Wills hot and cold relationship. One minute they are yelling at each other the next they are holding each other, and this would happen several times in one conversation.
With all that being said, I did like reading this book and seeing how the characters would work out their difficulties. I was rooting for them to make the right choice and gain a deeper faith in Jesus.
As always, these are my thoughts only and I encourage to you form your own opinion and see what you think.
A copy of this book was given to me through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.
"Veil of Secrets" is the story of one, highly influential, political family (along with their friends, colleagues, and associates) trying to make right choices in an environment that gives them every reason to choose what's wrong. They are trying to make a positive difference in a world that sometimes seems to be trying to destroy them, a world that has already inflicted heavy casualties on almost every family member.
Melanie and Will Connors are fighting for their marriage and over how much independence/shelter their teenage daughter, Sophie, needs in order to become a healthy adult. Will's sister, Carrie, is struggling with a life-changing decision, a matter of life and death that's either a consequence or a gracious gift. The whole family is working on their friend's presidential campaign, preparing for the early primary elections. And a cyberterrorist is threatening the security of the whole nation.
The story itself is intense and well-told. Authors Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel raise many issues through the lives of its characters and give readers much to think about. Then they show how, with determination and prayer, lives really can be changed for the better when people seek, with love and hard work, to do what's right.
A theme verse for this book could be: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). "Veil of Secrets" reveals the blessings that come from seeking God's way out of temptation and into lives that honor Him.
Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review. I'm glad I read this book.