Beguile: To deceive by guile; to delude. To take away from by guile; to cheat. To divert. To cause to vanish unnoticed or without pain.
Beguiled is a novel I looked forward to reading on the CFBA Tour because of the unique partnership featuring two authors (and friends) who collaborated on this story. Having heard good reports time after time about Deeanne Gist’s historical romance novels, I looked forward to finally reading her work in a contemporary setting since I rarely read historicals. And finally I’d get to experience some fiction, albeit in partnership, from the talented J. Mark Bertrand before his solo debut novel Back on Murder releases in July of this year.
Rylee Monroe, the lovely dog walker for privileged clientele in Charleston, S. C., meets local newspaper crime reporter and pre-published book hopeful Logan Woods when the Mastiff named Toro behind whom she’s rollerblading scares him up the Confederate Soldier Memorial in the darkness of her late night stroll—or skate. Fearful that this character in a baseball uniform has been following her in the shadows, she dials 911 and their unlikely association begins amidst snickers from the police who arrive at the scene.
There’s a robber on the loose in this old money section of Charleston, dubbed the Robin Hood Burglar by Logan Woods, but the prowler is only taking certain items among far more expensive and valuable fare and planting some of them at unusual places. When it’s discovered that most of the thievery and vandalism occurs at the homes of Rylee’s clients or former clients, she becomes the primary suspect. By this time, Logan is captivated by the woman and realizes her innocence in spite of some damning evidence against her.
This is a suspenseful tale which gives a vague hint of who the perpetrator of these weird crimes might be only to camouflage it with an escalation of damage and creepy additions to personal attacks against Rylee’s limited possessions. The raucous confrontation which takes place before and as the perpetrator of the burglaries and vandalism plans to flee, gives the reader a rush, a scare, and much satisfaction at the conclusion of events. It’s only through the final discoveries preceding this scene that the novel’s title comes into play. Fittingly.
Having some limited familiarity with J. Mark Bertrand’s writing and none with Deeanne Gist’s, I found it a challenge to discern who might’ve written what in the story, where their words met and/or meshed. I must say some of the writing was downright fun, other snippets very clever, and ultimately concise. This was one of my favorite examples from these two authors found on page 187 in the Advanced Reader Copy:
Liz stepped back, allowing him in. Also giving him his first glance of the fabled pirate barmaid outfit, consisting of a short, clingy shift and a bodice cinched tight enough to squeeze cleavage out of a tree trunk. There were knee-high boots, too, with skyscraper heels and a hundred yards of lacing.
Fabulous! If you can’t picture that, you’re seriously in need of glasses. There are of course many more examples of fine writing, but overall this is just another entertaining Christian commercial romantic suspense novel with low-key but solid faith elements. The ARC from Bethany House Publishers had a lot of mistakes, so hopefully they’ll be absent in the final copy.
It might not have been easy writing for these two friends to collaborate, but their first effort proved to be worthwhile.
Father, you know these people intimately. You’ve gifted them with the art of writing and the wonder of friendship. I pray you would continue to supply them with stories and that each one would glorify you in the process of writing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.