by Lanayre Liggera

"He knew it was silly and superstitious, but when he had finished, he took Valerie’s towel and put it in a bedroom drawer as a charm she would come back to use it again."

Liggera’s novel defies easy categorization. Is it a love story, a thriller, a religious parable for our times? Or is it a tossed salad that mixes all three? The latter is perhaps closest to the mark, for there are elements of each genre in this rather sedate and sober tale of adults who manage to find what they need even when they’re not sure what they’re looking for.

Carter is a middle-aged judge in England living under virtual house arrest for his own protection from villains whose fate he is deciding. He spends his time rationalizing his work and his bachelor existence while wondering if life is literally passing him by. Valerie, the widow of his best friend, is still trying to come to grips with her loss. He’s a somewhat stuffy Brit. She’s a pretty tenacious Texan. She persuades him to convince his team of bodyguards to let him travel to the Lone Star State for a visit. First however, they must secure the approval of a mysterious Muslim security chief who has been given governmental approval to virtually call all the shots. Once ensconced at her paternal family ranch, something more than platonic love blossoms, assassins invade their sanctuary, and a religious awakening comes to a non-believer.

The author imbues her characters with empathetic traits that suit their individual personalities well. Often these traits are revealed more in dialogue than exposition. In fact, it is the verbal sparring between the principals that creates the most intriguing elements of the novel, whether the conversation is about individual commitment or inspirational acceptance. Readers can decide for themselves if the ending is a continuation of restraint or a suggestion of revelation.

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