Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Hope-Filled Story from Deborah Raney

The Face of the Earth
by Deborah Raney
Christian Fiction
Available May 2013
Howard Books
368 pages

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About the Book
When Mitchell Brannon’s beloved wife of twenty years kisses him goodbye one autumn morning, he has little idea that his life is about to change forever. Mitch returns from work early that evening, surprised Jill’s car isn’t in the garage. Her conference in Kansas City is only a few hours’ drive from their little town of Sylvia, Missouri. But her voice on the answering machine makes him smile. “Hey, babe, I’m just now checking out of the hotel, but I’ll stop and pick up something for dinner. Love you.”

Mitch sets the table with their best china and lights some candles, looking forward to their first weekend as empty nesters.

But at eight o’clock, the candles have burned to stubs and Jill still hasn’t shown up. Mitch tries her cell phone only to get her voice mail over and over again. Their two college kids haven’t heard from their mom either.

At midnight, Mitch’s irritation turns to dread. And later, when the police and Missouri Highway Patrol have turned up nothing, the Kansas City hotel calls to say they’ve found property belonging to Jill in a hotel maid’s possession.

Mitch enlists the help of their next-door neighbor, Jill’s best friend, Shelley, and together they search for clues to Jill’s disappearance. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, Mitch and Shelley’s friendship grows ever closer—and decidedly complicated with Jill as the tie that binds them together. Just when Shelley decides to finally reveal her feelings for Mitch, a clue to Jill’s whereabouts is uncovered. But every lead seems to be a dead end, and Mitch wonders how he can honor the vows he made to a woman who has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth.

My Thoughts
Deborah Raney has again delivered a story that drew me in and made me read furiously until the very last page. This is a unique story of Mitch's search for his wife who never returns from a teachers' conference. As the days, weeks, and months pass by, he struggles with whether to continue searching or to admit that she's never coming home. And more importantly, he fights to learn what exactly happened to his wife. Did someone harm her? Or did she simply run off? As he continues the search, he grows closer to Jill's best friend and next door neighbor, Shelley. As their feelings for one another grow, Mitch must decide if he will honor his vows to a missing woman or begin a new life with Shelley.

Early on I was anxious about some of the possible outcomes of this complex story. After reading about 30 pages, I cheated and read the last page. With the slight comfort that there at least would be a firm resolution (one of my fears was that the book would simply go in circles and not really reach a satisfying conclusion), I continued reading. All I can say is WOW! The journey that this book takes you on as you read Mitch, Jill, and Shelley's story is simply unbelievable. I loved the characters and felt their emotions coming through the pages of the book. While this is a pretty heavy story, it was also filled with hope and encouragement. I cannot recommend The Face of the Earth highly enough. When you make your summer reading list, be sure to include this incredible book by Deborah Raney! [4.5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books & LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Deborah Raney is the award-winning author of several novels, including "A Nest of Sparrows" and the RITA award winning "Beneath a Southern Sky" and its sequel, "After the Rains." Deborah's first novel, "A Vow to Cherish," was the inspiration for World Wide Pictures' highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on prime time network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, "Playing by Heart," was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist. Her novel for Howard/Simon & Schuster, "Yesterday’s Embers," appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller list. Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country. She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas.

Deborah Raney Online
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