Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann (review)

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Secrets  (Secrets, #1)Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twenty-seven-year-old Lance Michelli and his Nonna have a deep connection in Secrets, Book one of Kristen Heitzmann’s Michelli Family Series. That’s why when Nonna has a stroke and can no longer talk, Lance is still able to understand something of what she wants. It has to do with righting a family wrong–a mission that takes him eventually from New York to Sonoma California and the estate that the family once owned.

Twenty-four-year-old Rese Barrett has recently bought that property and is renovating it as only this female protege of a construction-company-owning-father knows how. She is going to turn it into a B&B–her last renovation project ever. Though her deep love for working with wood hasn’t lessened, it’s too painful to continue in the line of work that so brutally snatched her dad.

Lance manages to convince Rese to hire him on as a cook, entertainer (he’s also a musician), and jack-of-all trades in helping to finish the reno. With full run of the property, he unearths all kinds of family-related baggage but not before his relationship with Rese develops way beyond what he planned.

For her part, Rese is a tough nut to crack, but once charmer Lance has her in his spell, she becomes an unwitting temptress, challenging Lance’s Christian standards on more than one occasion.

The book is beautifully written. The characters are complex and loveable despite their faults. Lance struggles with his Christian faith in a believable way but is a truly warm, caring guy, even though the fallout from his lack of limits in some areas (there is a lot of kissing and other touching) seems to surprise him.

The questions still unanswered at the end of Secrets make the description of Unforgotten (Book 2 in the series) awfully inviting: “Unforgotten returns … to the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx where Nonna Antonia hopes to find peace. Instead she learns that what she thought she knew was only a shadow of the truth…”

I got Secrets as a free Kindle download. As of this writing, it’s still free, so go and check it out!

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The Breath of Dawn (review)

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The Breath of Dawn by Kristen HeitzmannIn The Breath of Dawn Kristen Heitzmann has written romantic suspense with captivating characters and a plot that will keep readers in its clutches until the last page.

Female lead Quinn Reilly takes her business of estate buying and eBay trading seriously. But why is this diminutive but determined, independent, conscientious, and caring 27-year-old living alone, and apparently on the run in a doll-house-sized cabin nestled in the mountains near Juniper Falls, Colorado?

Morgan Spencer, whom we see in the prologue roaring away from his infant daughter after his wife’s funeral, has moved from his California business headquarters to the Colorado ranch. There his brother Rick, wife Noelle, and nephew Liam are helping him parent now two-year-old Livie. Morgan is caring too in a professional way as the revitalizer of failing corporations.  But when we meet him, his confusing responses show how emotionally frozen he still is after the deaths of daughter Kelsey and wife Jill.

I really enjoyed two-year-old Livie, an elfin and precocious (in a nice way) two-year-old who acted just like a compliant two-year-old would and completely won my heart (I’m a grandma, after all, with a ‘Livie’ of my own).

Quinn and Morgan meet. There is chemistry between them but the story really heats up when Markham Wilder, a bad actor from Quinn’s past, surfaces after serving jail time because of Quinn’s testimony against him. Heitzmann’s description of Wilder gave me chills:

“He felt like a reptile coming out from under a rock, blinking in the overbright sunshine, cold wind standing his short blond hair. He felt like a predator waking to thoughts of prey, to hunger and awareness. He felt shame. He felt fear. He felt vengeful and powerful.” – Kindle Location 793

Though the book is long (448 pages) the story of the growth of Quinn and Morgan’s relationship woven together with the ever-tightening noose of Quinn’s past kept me reading long into the night more than once. Heitzmann’s masterful use of language and ability to get into the skin of her characters didn’t hurt either.

In addition to spinning a captivating tale, Heitzmann addresses themes of trust (in people and God—beautifully illustrated by little Livie’s trusting qualities), family, prayer, faith and integrity.

The Breath of Dawn under the tree for the reader in your life would be a great treat!

(I received a copy of this book as a gift from the publisher–Bethany House–for the purpose of writing a review. This review first appeared on Blogcritics.com.)

Title: Breath of Dawn, The
Author: Kristen Heitzmann
Publisher: Bethany House, November 1, 2012, paperback, 448 pages.
ISBN-10: 0764210424
ISBN-13: 978-0764210426