Over the past few years you’ve seen me crack under the pressure and review romance books by fellow authors. I like to review books by people from my agency, The Blythe Daniel Agency. It’s fun. I know them. I do review other books from other agencies on occasion as well. My one rule is that I will only review books that would rate a four or five star review on Amazon. If it’s less than that, you will hear nothing from me. I read an awful lot of books that never make it to this blog. Jaded by Varina Denman is one of the few that made the cut, and is the first five star review of 2015.
Varina Denman has an incredible debut novel with Jaded. I was expecting another pleasant Christian love story with some wit and dry humor thrown in, nothing too heavy. I was wrong. This book has such evocative writing that I kept seeing the movie in my head as I read through it this week. Not only did it read like watching a movie, but it was a really good movie. One I would be proud to take my God Daughter to see on a Saturday, and my beloved wife on Sunday. Mom will have to wait for the Monday showing.
Set in a small (suffocatingly so in my worldview) Texas town it combines elements of To Kill a Mocking Bird and Cape Fear. I don’t know if Varina meant to do that, but I loved the fact that I made the connection: it meant that the story elements were strong enough to bring those very deep emotional links right out in front. When you’re compared to iconic authors right out of the chute, you’ve got the mojo.
Characters in this novel are crisply drawn. They are not the stereotypical stuff of romance books. As a matter of fact, while this book started out as a Christian Romance novel, it would be a huge error to place it in that category alone. It’s a brilliant novel that is enjoyable reading for all adults. I prefer action-thrillers, but Denman kept me hooked enough that I’d carve out time after work to read each evening. Good stuff. Pacing, plot, and some twists were all excellent and kept me motoring right along.
The only downfall of the book is that she writes so well in scenes with food that I had to stop and snack – repeatedly. So far the must have list this week includes chicken fried steak, hot dogs, cotton candy, burgers, and hot chocolate. Thanks a lot for the weight gain!
Part of a series of novels, it’s set the hook deeply enough that I will buy her future works without reservation. She’s really set the bar for debut authors with this one. I’m blessed enough to work with a stable full of geniuses like Varina: now I have to work harder to keep my place in the agency.
Well done, colleague.
Varina’s book is available right now on Amazon. Run over and buy it by clicking this link.
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