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Title: Unknown

Series: Grace Sufficient (#1 in series)

Author: Vanessa Hall

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Rating: 4/5 stars

Overview: I grew up in Russia, so I always feel a pull towards stories set in that country. In light of the upcoming New Year holiday, it seemed like a great time to dive into this romantic suspense novel. I was expecting a tense plot with plenty of faith, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Characters: Sofia was a fantastic character! We get to know her well, and the author portrays her with such genuineness. Her faith arc is especially well done; it feels like something that could actually happen. I loved watching her grow over the course of the story! Gabe was also a great character. He does cry a little too much, but I mean, he is going through some pretty tough stuff, so… I definitely related to his struggles of being neither Russian nor American but something in between. The author did an amazing job of portraying a TCK!

Content: There’s a decent amount of violence. A character’s parents are murdered at the beginning of the story. People are shot and sometimes badly injured (some details are given, but nothing’s graphic). A character watches someone close to her die, which is difficult to read. There are a few romantic subplots. Two characters share some kisses. Sofia is Juliet in a ballet and kisses Romeo numerous times (always off-page). The villain floats between women without caring about said women’s feelings.

Writing: The writing is excellent. The story grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept interested all the way to the end. The climax is especially gripping. The faith aspect does come off a bit strong. There are quite a few mini-sermons in the book. Which is fine, because, I mean, it’s God’s Word that they’re sharing… But it did pull me out of the story a bit. It was kind of like the story paused so they could share the gospel, and then it was, “Okay, back to the plot!” I don’t know; I felt like it could have been integrated a little smoother. While many things were definitely more American than Russian, especially in regards to the church Gabe works with, Hall’s depictions of Russia itself are great. I could practically smell those smoky corridors…

Summary: Romantic suspense isn’t my genre of choice, but this was a nice break from my typical fantasy and historical fiction selections. Hall has crafted a powerful story of God’s grace and the need for forgiveness, set within the fantastical world of Russian ballet. I recommend this to fans of romantic suspense aged 13+.

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