It was a different take on what she usually writes about as she states. I did like it. Sure glad I read it in this version in places you could see where it would have went in another frame of mind. Happy she wrote it that way.
Normally I can't put a Terri Blackstock down, but this one took me a week to get through. Overall the book wasn't bad, it was a different style of book then I'm used to from this author. The characters and the plot were decent, it just wasn't the page turner I'm used to from this author.
"Shadow in Serenity" by Terri Blackstock is a roller coaster of a read—it twists and turns through loops as you race along the words to find out what happens next. What else would you expect from the fascinating premise of a conman trying to deceive an ex-con artist who grew up in the craziness of a traveling carnival?
Charming Logan Brisco arrives in Serenity well prepared to relieve the unsuspecting inhabitants of their hard earned savings. He promises them an amusement park to revive their failing economy, but Carny Sullivan sees through him immediately. After all, her parents trained her to be a con artist and she knows all the tricks of the trade. The kindness of the Serenity folk has allowed her to build a happy secure life for her son, and she is determined to expose Logan and his destructive scheme in order to protect the town. But Logan endears himself to the town and no one believes her.
I enjoyed this book and a Ferris Wheel of questions filled my mind so that I had to keep reading. Would Logan change? Would he develop a conscience? Would he believe and trust in God? How could he be sure that God believed in him? Could a person have too much baggage to change? Would he destroy Serenity?
And what about Carny, the Harley-riding widow who flew planes for a living? Would she be able to stop Logan? Would she trust Logan? Should she trust him? Was he deceiving her?
These questions were answered at the end of the book in a most satisfying conclusion.
I highly recommend this well-written book. Although light hearted on the surface, it's underpinned by a strong Christian message.
Thank you to Shelton Interactive for a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed above are my own.
Con man Logan Brisco breezes into Serenity, Texas, with the aim of relieving it's good citizens of their cash. Carny Sullivan is a widowed single mom who grew up surrounded by con artists, and who is not about to let her friends get ripped off by Logan, despite his good looks and endless charm. Carny makes no secret of her desire to bring Logan down a peg or two, and her challenge both amuses and intrigues him, setting the scene for some colourful goings-on.
But trying to persuade a town full of honest people that Logan is running a con might be more than Carny can manage. Meanwhile, Logan is excited by the challenge Carny presents, and stays in town even though it is against the 'rules' of a good con. However, as Logan spends longer in Serenity, he develops relationships with more of the people, and his perceptions gradually begin to change. Meanwhile, Carny knows from her own life that God can change anyone, even a con artist, and begins to doubt her initial impressions of Logan.
Basically, this was a hoot. The scenes between Carny and Logan were consistently underpinned by an amusing combination of mistrust and attraction, the story was fun, and the book had the desired ending without in any way appearing predictable. I really enjoyed this as a fun read underpinned by a sound Christian message.
Terri Blackstock was published in the general market before she became a Christian, and this book was previously published with another title and under a pseudonym. Terri has now revised and updated it for the Christian market. The new and revised passages are well integrated into the overall story, and there is no sign that you are actually reading an updated book.
Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
Serenity, Texas is a town in decline. One of its citizens, is Carny Sullivan. She had grown up in the crazy world of the carnival and had survived a hurtful marriage. Now she and her son enjoy the quiet town, her flying service, and her relationship with the Lord. Then a handsome fellow, Logan Brisco, comes into town. He has ideas of making the town alive again. Be plans to build an amusement park just outside of town. It would draw thousands and bring life back into the community. He says he has investors lined up. All he needs is the people of Serenity to buy into the project and invest some of their own money. But Carny can spot a con artist when she sees one. She tries to warn the people of her beloved town, to no avail. And then she begins to fall for him. Logan begins to have feelings for her. He knows he shouldn't let his emotions get in the way of his money making scheme. Should Carny trust her head or her heart? Is she just one more conquest for this con artist?
This is certainly a character driven romance. The typical romance plot of boy and girl love each other but there is an “insurmountable” problem that needs to be conquered, is the major aspect of this novel. In fact, it repeats several times. For me, it was a bit too much. I thought the novel could have been shorter, say around the typical 300 pages. The plot did drag on. I would not rank this among one of Blackstock's best, and I have read most of her work. On a positive note, I did learn how carnival people make their money.
Carny Sullivan was named aptly for the world she grew up in. Her parents worked on a travelling carnival who taught her to see the world through very different eyes than most. She was raised to trick, con and steal almost anything. Which gave her an ability to read people far deeper than most could.
Now living in a quiet "Mayberry" types town in Texas she doesn't need to use that skill much, until Logan Brisco strolls into town. His slick and saavy ways are no match for her insight, until he finds a way past her head and into her heart. Then he has to pull off the greatest con ever in his life ... the truth.
This story held so many great elements for me. The best part was the intriguing relationship between Logan and Carny. The back and forth banter that ignited their interest in each other was fun to read and be a part of. Ms. Blackstock did a fantastic job of getting into the head of a swindler both present and past. It is like a ex-con trying to catch a con. Fun to read!
As for the plot, although it was not a suspenseful book it was definitely anything but predictable. For a 315 page story, I still didn't know how the author would finally unite the hero with his prize until page 310. (Don't peek if you haven't read it - you'll miss the best parts!)
I also appreciated the spiritual arc of the characters. In particular Logan 's journey felt real and authentic to me. This is an important element for books that I enjoy.
There were only two areas in the book that I would mention in my dislikes. (And they are quite small.) The first was in the form of dialogue. There is a young boy in the story who is age 7/8. He speaks with too much wisdom and understanding much of the time as well as seems like an informant at others (speaking info that the reader needed to know). I felt that his innocence needed to be more evident especially in light of the way his mother had chosen to raise him away from the world that taught her so much in the opposite.
The last comment I would make is that there is a decision that Carny, the heroine makes towards the end of the book. It is crucial to the plot and helps make the ending so satisfying. By the end of the story I knew exactly why Ms. Blackstock wrote it that way but I could not reject the notion that it seemed too out of character for Carny. From the way I got to know the woman in the story she wouldn't have done it that way. However perhaps you may find as you read the story that you do not agree with me. This particular 'flaw' does not reflect negatively on the outcome or satisfaction of the story. I still give the book two thumbs up. Way up!
I received a free copy of this title from Shelby Sledge representing Zondervan Publishers and Terri Blackstock in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to give a positive response.
Shadow in Serenity by Terry Blackstock was an enjoyable way for me to pass the hours during a long ride back home from visiting family. This was not what I would call a typical Terry Blackstock book -- not the "stay-up-all-night" suspenseful page turner like so many of her others -- but it was a story well worth my time!
"You can't con a con" -- or can you? Logan Brisco smoothly works his way into the small town of Serenity, Texas, endearing himself to practically everyone in town as he lays the groundwork for his biggest con yet. What he doesn't expect, though, is to run into the likes of Carny Sullivan, a free-spirited woman who grew up as the daughter of carnival workers and learned the art of cheating unsuspecting marks. Carny appears to be the only one in town who can see through Logan's facade and tries to warn the friends she has made in her new hometown. Carny sees Logan as a threat to Serenity, and Logan sees Carny as a challenge to his well-honed skills. Will Carny be able to stand strong, or will Logan's scheming win her over?
My enjoyment of this story increased as I learned the "back story" of the book. This was a rewrite of one of the last books Terri Blackstock wrote on the secular market, before she was convicted to only write stories that honor God. By removing some elements and adding others, she was able to share a story that she loved in a way that (in Terri's own words) "more closely fit my worldview and my Christian conscience." As a Christian who enjoys and appreciates the work of talented writers who hold true to their faith, I say, "Thank you, Terri Blackstock, for sharing your gift." (Terri shares more about this story at her website: http://www.terriblackstock.com/journal/.)
This was a fun read! Terry Blackstock is not an author I’m familiar with, but I did enjoy the story. This is a novel with enough punch to keep you entertained and enough depth to keep you thinking. Carny Sullivan is a woman who is going out of her way to prove that the newest guy in town is a con man. That she knows what they look like all too well is understood, but the town is not as interested in her suspicions as they are in the pipe dreams one Logan Brisco is selling.
Carny herself has been transformed by God’s grace, but is she intent on selling God short in his ability to transform others? Is Logan who he claims to be or will he hurt the entire town and care not at all? These are questions that propel the story along. I found myself rooting for Carny, Logan, and the town even though many times their activities were at cross-purposes. That is the beauty of good characters, they can turn you into a schizophrenic…sometimes you want all the guys to win, the good, the bad, and the neutral!
Punctuated with colorful stories of grifting, carnivals, and heartfelt emotion, this is a good book to read on a warm beach, or curled up next to a fire with a hot cocoa. Enjoy your trip to Serenity, Texas. I know I did. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
Shadow in Serenity is the type of story that sticks with you after you finish the book. Not only is it well-written, but it made me cry a few times. There were some precious, yet heart-wrenching scenes in this story that rang so true I forgot several times that I was reading fiction. The people in the story seemed real to me. I loved the characters' arcs as well. The theme about childhood always being with you and shaping who you are--but that didn't mean you couldn't change--was very inspirational and emotionally moving. There were a lot of things about this story that were powerful. It's hard to say much without spoiling it for the reader, but I will say that this is a beautiful and touching love story about learning to trust and discovering hope for the future.
I have always been a believer in change, but not many books show just how difficult and scary it is for people to really do that. The ability to trust is not possible when someone is continually guarding their heart and closing themselves off to others. Then to learn that change was possible and to desire that so much that you are willing to risk everything? That was so well done and so convincing that I couldn't help but fall for Logan myself. He really did want to experience love and not be lonely anymore. The story of his childhood that he shared with Jason was so touching that it was impossible not to cry. I felt a bit panicked toward the end along with Carny. The author did a very convincing job of setting everything up. This was the perfect romantic suspense and I'll still be thinking about the story days from now. Because of that and a number of other reasons it's making my best fiction list for this year.
Terri Blackstock-SHADOW in SERENITY I received this book from Zondervan Publishing free for the purpose of a review. It can be a good or bad review. Great story line and kept me reading reading reading from the beginning to the end. How does a former "carny" know a con man? Because she had learned the not so pleasant job of being a con artist very early in her life. Having been born to parents that are grifters Carny Sullivan wants more out of life than just traveling from one place to another as a carnival kid. Serenity is everything Carny wants in a place to land, have a home and settle down. Having come to Serenity with her new husband.....she finds many things that she loves and makes the decision to change her life. Enter Logan Brisco, good looking, smooth talking, and a dream or con as big as all outdoors and confusion begins to shake Serenity......Carny Sullivan sees thru him but.....can she convince her precious Serenity friends and family...... Very interesting twist of events.
I realize this was a re-write of an early book by Terri Blackstock. I must say I like her recent book better because I do enjoy the intrigue of them. It was still pretty good but I wouldn't strongly recommend it to a friend like I have more recent books. Still love to read her books and will continue to purchase them
Just finished "Shadow In Serenity". I have read all of Terri's police procedural novels and have never felt any sympathy for the bad guys. I never thought a crook could steal my heart but Logan Brisco did exactly that! I was so glad he came to know Jesus and gave up his criminal lifestyle. I was rooting for him and Carny throughout the entire book! My favorite musical is "The Music Man" and this was a PERFECT dead-on modern day update to a classic heartwarmer. The scenes with Carny and her parents had me laughing out loud! And I loved Carny's feisty lifestyle of flying and riding her Harley...as a lover of roller coasters, I can relate to the adrenaline rush! Congratulations, Terri, on writing a first class novel that shows that no one is out of the reach of God's love. I am also eagerly waiting for "Downfall", as I have been rooting for Barbara and Kent as well!
Terri Blackstock is a writer whose work often moves me deeply (sometimes to the point of tears). This book, Shadow in Serenity, is no exception. From the first of the book until the last page I was mesmerized. The writing is tight and compelling, the characters are well developed, the setting is well described. I couldn't stop reading it and, though I had figured out the ending (well, mostly) by about half way through, I was enjoying it so much that it didn't really matter.
The main male character, Logan, is a con artist who has never known love; the main female character, Carny, is a former con artist who has discovered the best love of all isn't found in a man but in God. Though romance plays a part in the development of the book (more towards the end), it isn't a classic romance story; though mystery is involved, this is not a "whodunit". Rather it's a story about forgiveness, brokenness, repentance and redemption. Everything in the story points to God and His ability to bring people to repentance and change lives so that a life once lived in vain is now lived in His service. That's what I love about Terri's books: the focus is always on God; everything else is secondary. Shadow in Serenity is no exception.
My overall take: if you want a good, exciting read that focuses you on truth, this is the book to read. I rate it five stars.
DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a free copy of this book by Zondervan for purposes of review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest and fair one. My opinions are my own.