The experience this year of judging the Grace Awards 2012 Action-Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category was a blast. All the entries were top-notch. But, there can only be one winner…
SHADOWED IN SILK by Christine Lindsay won the 2011 Grace Awards in the Action-Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category. This story is a page-turner packed with action and suspense. It’s a dramatic love story much more than a romance. The writing is lush, transporting us back in time to the Raj period in India. The research done on the time period was outstanding. The descriptions of Indian life, exquisite and detailed.
Main characters Abby Fraser and Major Geoff Richards have been thrust into a situation that is complex, awkward, and sometimes brutal. These two engaging characters meet aboard on ocean liner bound for India. Major Richards is returning from the battlefields of Europe with what is left of his brave Indian troops to rejoin his regiment. He’s shell-shocked and mourning the loss of his men. The daughter of a British officer, but having spent her teen years in America, Abby is returning to her childhood home where she and her young son Cam will rejoin the husband she has been separated from during the war.
When they disembark, sadly, Abby’s husband is not on the pier to meet her and the boy. Geoff is about to help her when they bump into Miriam, an old friend of Geoff’s, an Indian Christian woman who runs a shelter for widows and orphans. To her surprise, Abbey discovers her hard-drinking husband is so much less than the man she thought he was. The treatment she received for years at the hands of her neglectful father and aunt has made Abby feel invisible and now her husband’s rude treatment only serves to reinforce that. Abby and Geoff are drawn to each other and he would like nothing better than to help her and little Cam. However, he is a Christian and would never allow himself to become involved with a married woman. Inadvertently, he pulls back at times when she is most desperately in need of a friend. Left adrift, she becomes the pawn of a Russian spy dedicated to stirring up unrest in India.
This is at the time when Gandhi is organizing his “peace revolution.” The reader is deftly brought into what life was like in the 1990s in India…Indian culture, food, clothing, customs, wilting heat and humidity. The British and the native characters are three-dimensional, well crafted, and believable. My only problem is with the numerous Indian words. A glossary is provided, but I eventually gave up looking them up and simply guessed at the meaning. The reader gets a wonderful glimpse of the world of missionaries and native-Christians at that time. In fact this makes it easy to care deeply about these characters, especially Miriam, who had a committed and gentle walk with the Lord.
I highly recommend SHADOWED IN SILK. This story has enough twists to keep readers up into the wee hours of the night turning pages. It you’re a lover of historical fiction, especially novels in exotic settings, this is a must read.
YESTERDAY’S TOMOROW by Catherine West a compelling drama set during the Viet Nam Conflict. This story touches us on a deep level.There is struggle, love, death, and spirituality in this fascinating read. The romance is genuine and we feel as if we are on the streets of Saigon, or in the Vietnamese jungle. There are many times when the reader will gasp, even cry.
MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD by Lynn Dean is one of those epic western sagas that captures the imagination. It’s a story set in Waco, Texas and then in New Mexico and it tells of the virulent hatred that lingered between the north and the south after the Civil War. It’s a sweet romance with main characters who are not sugary, but believable.