Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Sisters--THICKER THAN BLOOD

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Oops, wrong book! And yet it fits in many ways. Two sisters followed separate paths, both doing the work they love, but they were both facing great difficulties that threatened to turn their worlds upside-down. Sadder still, their bond from youth had long ago been deliberately broken by the older sister, so they didn't have each other to lean on when they most needed each other.

In her debut novel, C. J. Darlington writes as if  she's been a best-seller for years. No doubt her experience as a book seller/broker and book lover have aided her, but so have many years of honing her skills in other writing opportunities. Many of you may know her from her blog or from her work at Title Trakk, in which case you already know that C. J. is handy with words. It has all come together  nicely with Thicker Than Blood, winner of the 2008 Christian Writers' Guild 'Operation First Novel' Contest. That contest meant being published by Tyndale House and all that goes with it.

Christy Williams has had one mess after another in her life, and just when things seem to be coming together for her, it all unravels. She loves her job at the bookstore, and the manager is entrusting her to more and more responsibilities with book auctions and estate sales. But  Vince, her ex and a co-worker, doesn't intend to let her go. Not because of great love but for power and control. When Christy refuses to do as he commands, he makes life impossible for her. She needs an escape.

Her younger sister May has been living her dream life as a partner on a ranch surrounded by horses. Hard work but the only life she really wants. Her problem is that they are so far behind in the ranch mortgage that the bank has given final notice. It looks hopeless, but May has a source of strength that Christy doesn't: she has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and has learned to depend on Him. Still, she doesn't see a way out.

The stage is set for circumstance and 'happenstance' to develop in ways to bring the sisters together again and become enmeshed in each other's lives.

There are heroes/heroines and villains, chase scenes, fire, threats, gunshots, injuries, internal and external conflict, friendship, loyalty, betrayal, hatred, moments of enlightenment, moments of despair. All the elements are here to make a great story, and C. J. combines them deftly. Her timing is well-paced and the build-up to the climax is maddening! The beginning seems to lag a bit, but that really is normal in setting up the story and the characters. Before long, though, it picks up amd moves quickly.

I found myself thinking about the story while  was doing other things (when I wanted to get to the end but had to do the mundane stuff); I was even imagining possible ways for it all to work out. Some of my ideas were right, but others were really off in left field, out in the cow pasture. Now that I've finished, I want to go back and revisit a few places. For me, this means it's a good book.

This is not your run-of-the-mill average Christian romance novel, and I'm relieved to pass that on because there are so many romance novels following  a set, predictable fomula. I kept looking for romances that didn't happen. I think the romance-gone-bad with Vince help set me up for that. And yet...Not going to spoil it any further. Let's just say it is an excellent Christian fiction novel that doesn't really fit into one of the normal genre cubbyholes, at least as far as I can see.

My thanks to Tyndale House for sending me a review copy of Thicker Than Blood. I have no copies to give away; if I could afford another giveaway this month, I would gladly draw for a copy of this book.  Since I can't, I just exhort you to get a copy youself!

You can read the first chapter here.

For more about C. J. Darlington and her writing, check out her website.

Thicker Than Blood is available at many Christian and regular bookstores. Online, you can purchase it from Christianbook, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (December 3, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1414334486
ISBN-13: 978-1414334486


Barbara J. Robinson said...

I'd love to win a copy of Thicker than Blood. It sounds like a terrific book, I love the cover, I love the trailer, and I want to read and review it!

cathikin said...

Sorry, but as I wrote, I have no copies to give away. But there is a drawing for it at Or you might check Title Trakk to see what other activity is going on with it this week. I'm glad you are so enthusiastic about it.

C.J. Darlington said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful review, Cathi. I really appreciate it!