2010 Winner of the Silver Quill for second place in the Fiction category for the League of Utah Writers Publication Awards.
Blond and stunningly beautiful, fledgling attorney Stephanie Saunders vows to protect the innocent even though as indigent defense attorney her clients rarely are. Does that include Josh Durrant, who seems to be following her? Stephanie is dismayed when her peers begin calling her "Prom Queen" like boyfriend, Todd Saxton, often does. While desperately trying to prove her credibility in her profession, she overlooks a scheme to steal her innocence. Although she plans to forgive Todd for his ultimate betrayal, she is never given the chance. Her boss, Attorney Charles Connelly, offers support, but is Stephanie's welfare, or his own, top priority? The only thing that keeps Stephanie sane in her insane world are the hores she loves but does not own. The example of the abused mare, Riskie Business, helps Stephanie make the most difficult decision of her life. Relying on wit and courage, Stephanie must save herself and another during the final showdown where she proves a loyalty and strength of which she never knew herself capable.
Well, this blurb had me interested, I have to admit. I love a good romance thriller, and throw in a mix of law (which usually leads to crazy bad guys) and horses (which makes me all happy and nostalgic, even though I know nothing about them) and I figure I'm in for a good read. So when a friend of mine asked me to review this book for a fellow writer, Betty Briggs, I couldn't refuse. For my participation, I received a free copy of the book in question. Yes!
This book has many things going for it. It is a clean romance thriller with a heroine you want to root for and a love interest that's, well, loveable. Not to mention hunky. The premise is intriguing, and the danger the heroine faces keeps the pace moving along nicely. The majority of the book is a quick read, which makes it the perfect companion for a weekend getaway--the way I enjoyed it. I also loved the substory of Stephanie with the horses she loves. There was sadness and darkness in the story, too, which adds to the reader's desire to root for the heroine, yet Brigg's keeps it light enough that it doesn't cause despair. I also found many of the descriptions to be beautifully-written.
My biggest complaint about this story is with the character development of the heroine and other key players. It was difficult to comprehend some of the heroine's motivations and actions because we know so little about her beyond the fact that she is an orphan. A little more background information might have lent itself to helping the reader understand why Stephanie does what she does, or even why she seems so naive for a 21st-century woman. I also would have loved to have her figure out more of the mystery on her own insead of having most of it told to her by others. And a little more time interacting with (or combatting)the main villains, who have almost no "screen time," would have helped to show her strength. At times, I found the dialogue to be forced and unnatural, and sometimes the verbal sparring between Stephanie and her love interest missed the mark. Finally, the author failed to capture a strong finish when she allowed the resolution to drag on for several chapters after her gripping climax.
If you enjoy reading clean romance thrillers and a quick read with likeable characters, then this might just be the thing for you. To order Depth of Deceit, click here.
About the Author (from book cover): A retired legal secretary of thirty-three years and lifetime horse lover, Betty notes that some of her experiences sneak into her story lines, but not without embellishments. Already the author of four young adult books, she is excited to introduce Depth of Deceit, her first mainstream novel. She is the mother of two grown children adn grandmother to five. She lives in teh Rocky Mountains with her husband, Scott. Her three horses round out the family. Find out more about Betty and her books at www.bettybriggs.com.