The Truth: Salvatore’s Revenge by Ta’Mara Hanscom
What just happened? After reading the first four books of the Caselli Family Series, I was expecting a tender wrap-up of the Caselli story, not the roller coaster, suspense driven, crime drama in this book! After, what some saw as harsh criticism on my part of the fourth book (The Gift), I realized that the fourth book was merely the “lull before the storm” that was necessary in order for the story to play itself out in high impact and page- turning drama in the fifth book. I was pleasantly surprised.
The focus of the story now turns towards the Caselli children who have grown into young adults, each trying to find their place in the world. They have all been influenced by their parents and grandparents to follow God’s calling in their lives but when that call differs from parental expectations, there are natural clashes between parents and their children. It is an interesting form of rebellion. They are doing what they feel God wants them to do, which is what their parents have taught them to do, and yet because the parents do not happen to agree with their choices, there is tension. For example, Noah’s son Ty discovers that his biological father (Roy) needs a bone marrow transplant in order to survive cancer. Ty decides to turn down a lucrative baseball contract with the Orioles so that he can donate the marrow. He feels strongly that this is what God would want him to do. Noah, who despises the ne’er-do-well Roy, is upset that Ty would have anything to do with the man.
The other four books have alluded to a long-standing mystery that has plagued the Caselli’s; a curse that has one family seeking revenge on another. Now the entire mystery is played out with enough twists and turns that makes this book a page turner from beginning to end.
I thought the series ended on a definite high, with a good, solid conclusion to the story line.
TITLE: CrossReads Book Blast With Lillian Duncan
By Lillian Duncan
About the Book
Witness Protection Program claims they can keep anyone safe if only they follow the rules so Maria follows the rules–every rule. She’s given up everything–her friends, her family, her past, even her name to ensure her daughter has a future.
Reborn as Veronica Minor in the sleepy little town of Sunberry, Ohio, she struggles to rebuild their life amid the beauty of her flower shop. A life where her daughter can have a happy normal childhood. A life where her daughter will never know that her father was a monster.
When a child disappears, Veronica prays it has nothing to do with her past, but what if she’s wrong? Not knowing who to trust, she trusts no one…and that’s her first mistake
Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.
Lillian is a multi-published writer who writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.
To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net. She also has a devotional blog at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com as well as her personal blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at www.lillian-duncan.com
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Book Four of the Caselli Family Series continues the story of the love “triangle” between Noah, Tillie and Alex, however in the six years where Tillie tried to make her marriage work with Alex, and Noah staying completely out of the picture, the opening storyline hints that those six years have not been the easiest for Tillie. Although Alex seems to have spent more time at home and more attentive to his wife and family he is beginning
to be drawn away again and falling under the spell of his own prideful ambition.
Tillie has never completely forgiven Alex for his wrong-doings throughout their marriage and lives in a state of constant fear that he will leave them again to follow his career. This inner struggle has dramatically changed her so she has become withdrawn and sickly. Her family starts to question whether staying with Alex was the best decision for her. So it comes as a kind of relief to everyone when Alex is killed in a plane crash. Guilt and remorse leaves Tillie heartbroken at the loss of Alex, not because he is dead but because she continues to struggle with unforgiveness towards the man.
Enter Noah. With Alex out of the picture, Tillie and Noah’s romance rekindles and the majority of the book’s story is about them finally realizing their dreams of getting married and then blending their two families into a “happily ever after” scenario.
Although, after reading the first three books, I had hoped Tillie and Noah would finally be together, I couldn’t help feel that the author had made it almost “too easy” by removing Alex permanently from the picture. I thought the romance between Tillie and Noah is sweet and beautiful in this book but I missed the tension that was so well done in the third book with Alex being the errant husband.
I thought the book’s ending was a little too perfect until the epilogue and that “hint” of things to come was enough of an interesting cliff hanger to make me want to read the final book in the series and see how the Caselli family story finally plays itself out.
Alex Martin has everything a man could ask for: the love of a beautiful woman (Tillie) and the adoration of his two precious twin children. A remarkably successful man, his ambition knows no bounds until he puts his career and political aspirations ahead of his family. He is not aware that his pride and career has led to his abandonment of his family and that may lead his lonely wife to turn to a man she once loved.
It is a fascinating character study of two men, one who seems absolutely “perfect” (Noah), a “knight” as Tillie’s family calls him, and Alex the “blackguard” who is Tillie’s husband. Despite all of Alex’s faults he is Tillie’s husband and though we are drawn to Noah and at times I actually wished Tillie to leave Alex in order to be with Noah, they are all bound by honouring God and honouring the marriage covenant.
This book was filled with pathos and definitely brought out numerous theological questions on how far is too far when it comes to lust, love, and then forgiveness in that triangle between Noah, Tillie and Alex.
I found this book to be a page turner and definitely one that has left me wanting to know how this story will play out in the next book of this five book series. If you have not read the first two books in the series, this book can still be read and enjoyed on its own.
My review of Pit of Ambition (Book 2) of the Caselli Family Series by Ta’Mara Hanscom
A story of intrigue, secrets and cover up. A continuation of the storyline from Book 1 of the Caselli Family Series (Blackguard in Disguise), Angel’s father is wracked with guilt having kept Noah and Angel apart. Having prayed for Noah for many years and knowing he was once a rebellious young man, Guiseppi refuses to accept the fact that his prayers were answered when Angel and Noah start seeing one another and Noah turns his life over to the Lord. Thwarting God’s plan, Guiseppi decides to keep Noah and Angel apart and allows Angel to marry the ambitious Alex Martin instead.
Realizing that Angel is not coming back to him, Noah moves on with his life and marries his former girlfriend, Carrie, who is pregnant by another man. Rather than have her abort the child, he decides to provide a house and home for the troubled girl and in the years that follow, their friendship grows into love. Unfortunately Carrie’s family has mafia ties and she keeps this hidden from Noah with tragic consequences.
Angel’s marriage to Alex is at first happy, but when he spends more and more time away from home on business, even when they learn she is expecting twins, Angel (Tillie’s) family begin to have severe reservations about her husband. It is even more complicated when Alex starts to handle all of Noah’s business ventures with his construction company with none of them aware that Angel and Noah used to be sweethearts.
The storyline was fast paced for the most part and kept me engaged throughout the telling. I enjoyed this second book more than the first book and found the characters more believable and true to the era and setting of the book.
This is a story of consequences when one does not believe or accept God’s will and direction in life.
Looking forward to reading how the saga continues in Book 3.
My review of The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise by Ta’Mara Hanscom
I grew up in the 70’s, a time of bell bottoms, rock music and teen rebellion. This book, set in the same era focuses on a loving, but “old-fashioned” Italian family who seem stuck in the 50’s rather than being a family caught in the rebellious turmoil of the 70’s…and that is my only complaint about this book. Their actions and the era just did not mesh. That said…
The Caselli’s are a tight-knit Christian family, who are proud of their heritage and fiercely protective of their own. Angel (Tillie), the youngest at seventeen, goes against her upbringing by falling in love with a n’er-do-well, or as her family would call him, a “blackguard” called Noah. They meet while she is on a school outing and away from her parent’s protection and even though she knows she is breaking all their rules meeting with him, she seems drawn to him like a moth to a flame.
She has no idea that her mother has been praying for this troubled young man for years and while it would appear that her mother’s prayers for his salvation and for him to clean up his life are answered after meeting Angel, the family still does not trust Noah’s intentions with their precious daughter.
There are enough twists and turns in the plot line to keep the reader interested. This is the first book in a series and I am looking forward to seeing where the author takes the Caselli’s in the upcoming books.