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Book Review: Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand

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Rylee Monroe loves her job as a dog nanny and walker for the residents of the Charleston neighborhood that’s on the right side of the tracks. But what really keeps her going is the fact that Nonie, the person she loves most in all the world, needs her.

Logan Woods’ job on the newspaper’s crime beat is perfect for feeding his real passion – the writing of his first book of true crime stories. But so far the pièce de résistance — the Robin Hood Burglar — has eluded him. Meeting Rylee and hanging around with her helps in that department. She and that burglar seem to run with the same crowd. He has to make some hard choices, though, when detective Nate Campbell suspects her of the crime. It’s a good thing Rylee’s godfather and his dashing son are lawyers and seem eager to help.

In Beguiled Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand have collaborated on a fictional tale that lives up to both of its monikers. It’s a hearty main course of suspense served up with a generous side of gooey romance (or maybe it’s the other way around).

I was prepared to dislike the characters – especially the main female. Rylee is just too pretty, smart, and the embodiment of everything trendy and hip (she runs all these designer dogs on inline skates, for crying out loud). But somewhere in the early going, I started liking her. The book became compelling after that.

Though the story is a romance of the emotional x-ray variety (with lots of potential for nausea as we get many moment-by-moment accounts of how he affects her, she him) many first-love encounters of the book felt genuine – as do these scenes after an early date:

“They had crossed out of clearly defined territory into the shadowland of … something else.
[…] The easy camaraderie of their lunch conversation was gone, replaced by acute awkwardness. Giddy constraint. Happy with the new development but afraid to stay too long in each other’s presence. They both needed to retreat so they could ponder what had just happened.” p. 132

Gist and Bertrand’s writing style is brisk. Taking little time for description and backstory, the authors plunge us, scene after scene, into full-strength action. The dialogue is smart, authentic, and captures these 20-somethings in living audio.

Thematically the book is pretty light. Both Rylee and Logan come from backgrounds of Christian faith and their scrapes with danger test the strength of their beliefs, but not to any earth-shattering degree. Rylee has issues with the past and these threaten her relationship with any many who would get too close. Of course underlying the story is the idea that romantic love will triumph – and it does, to the tune of a six-figure book deal!

All in all, Beguiled was a pretty decent read – and fast too. The suspense elements made it hard for me to put down. Let’s hope Gist and Bertrand decide to collaborate on more tension-filled escapades in the future.

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About Violet Nesdoly