If you enjoy a family saga, you know, the kind that could lead to an ongoing TV soap opera, try Thorn in My Heart (2003) by Liz Curtis Higgs). It is the first of four books about the lives of two brothers and two sisters.
The Lowlands of Scotland is the setting of Thorn in My Heart. You do not have to know a thing about Scotland to enjoy this tale. Higgs does a wonderful job of painting it for the reader. Even if you are not a history buff, she makes life in 1788 come alive. It is almost as if you are walking the very same fields as the characters.
As you read along the story may begin to sound somewhat familiar. It is pretty much a fictional retelling of Jacob and Esau plus Rachel and Leah from the book of Genesis in the Bible. Higgs skipped ahead a few centuries along with placing her story in Scotland.
You will meet the twins, Jamie and Evan along with the women, Rose and Leana. The similarities to the version in Genesis begin right from the start. The boys grow up bickering. Jamie, the mother’s favorite, manages to steal Evan’s birthright from their aging father.
In order to escape Evan’s anger, the boy’s mother, Rowena McKie, makes arrangements with the boy’s uncle, Lachlan McBride. Jamie’s journey to the uncle’s home was not easy. In fact, he appears nearer to death than alive.
When he finally arrives, he meets the daughters of the uncle. 15-year-old Rose is a dark-haired beauty and catches Jamie’s eye right away. But, it is blue eyed Leana who falls head over heels for Jamie. Unlike Jamie and Evan, the girls are very close. It is their quite differing personalities that create problems on more than one level.
So, there you have the briefest of information to gain your attention. Recap of Thorn in My Heart: Both Evan and Jamie want their father’s land and flocks. Rose and Leana hearts are beating for Jamie. Who to cheer for? Cannot forget a wealthy controlling uncle and a mother who manages to wield influence throughout. Add to that lies, jealousy, broken promises and secrets. Plenty of drama adds up to a tale that is somewhat predictable along with enough surprises to keep one reading page after page.
A page turner of an all together different sort would be The Innocent (2012) by David Baldacci. Turns out this is also the first of a series featuring Will Robie. Robie is an assassin of an unnamed U.S. Government agency. His job is to eliminate targets.
Robie is very good at his job which I guess is a good thing in that line of business. He has recently been called back to D.C. to do away with what appears to be a low-level government worker, which in and of itself is quite unusual.
As he manages to enter unseen into the apartment of the target, he prepares to complete his assignment. His handler, who he trusts to have his back, is giving Robie orders to take the shot. Robie hesitates. Something is not right. The handler becomes agitated and finally ends up taking the shot himself.
Everything goes wrong. Robie has failed the mission. He is now in the crosshairs to be eliminated. Who is after him? No clue. Always prepared for the worse, Robie manages to escape the apartment building and heads to a bus terminal to get out of town.
Because of his training, he sits near the back of the bus and watches all who enter. He takes note of a teenage girl as well as the man who sits behind her. There is something about the man that peaks his interest. Good thing. Moments later, Robie with the teen manage to get off the bus just as it explodes.
That girl is 14-year-old Julie Getty who has recently run away from a foster home. Julie’s rescue adds a whole new twist to Robie’s attempted escape from his problem. She is a very bright, resourceful young woman which proves to be helpful on down the line.
Of course, other named characters make appearance in this thriller. It is difficult for Robie to know who to trust. I purposely am not giving much away. It is written with a lot of tension, action, twists and turns plus a dead end or two or three thrown in for excitement. You may see some things coming, but I can guarantee you will not see them all.
Set aside some time to read The Innocent. You will not want to put it down once you begin reading. Then, you may want to continue with the other four titles in the series.