Author’s note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
Standoff, the first book in Bradley’s new Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, gets this new series off to a very, very rocky start. Brooke is a budding park ranger who wants to be taken seriously by her co-workers and do her job well. She has a wealthy boyfriend, a great family, and a promising future ahead of her. Her idyllic lifestyle comes to a screeching halt when her father is murdered and left for dead while in patrol one evening. Luke is a law enforcement officer (of sorts) who is currently working undercover to expose a big drug cartel that is bringing loads of heroin into the U.S. When he hears that Brooke’s father has been killed, he wants to help find the criminal responsible. The problem is, he and Brooke have a bit of a checkered past, and now that she has a
corny villian wealthy boyfriend with a big family inheritance package, he believes any future they had together is now out of the question. She hates him, he has commitment issues, it would never work. You can pretty much guess what happens in this tale, so I won’t bore you any further. As to the plot and storyline quality, let’s just say that the only bright spot in this trainwreck are the chapters featuring the ‘unnamed’ villian. This adds an appropriate air of suspense, but unfortunately the concept isn’t fully developed. Other than that, there are only errors to note here. First, the storyline moves at an inconsistent pace, so much so that the reader sometimes feels like they are being jostled from one scene to another before they can fully understand what’s happening. Second, the author tends towards what I like to call the information-dump style of writing, which interrupts the pace of the story and distracts from whatever point she was trying to make. For example, she offers many unnecessary definitions of crime-related terms and foreign foods Americans may not be familiar with that interrupt the flow of the story. Third, heavy-handed narration is used throughout as the reader is force-fed the major plot points. Fourth, I’m not sure how this is suppsoed to be romantic suspense, since it’s made clear that Jeremy only wants Brooke as a babysitter for his daughter and Luke barely spends any time with Brooke throughout the story. Lastly, perhaps the most unusual facet of this novel is the borderline-racist depictions of non-white characters. Every person with a Cajun accent seems to eat only Cajun food (whose composition the author explains to us in detail), and every other non-white person is a drug dealer or other type of criminal. This messaging is very offensive and unprofessional not to mention bizarre. For these reasons, Bradley earns far below an average score in this section.
Character Development (0 points)
Similarly, Bradley’s heavy-handed, third person narrative tone means that character development is pretty much nonexistent. Brooke is a wooden protagonist who doesn’t know what she wants out of life. Despite her character’s feminist undertones, she doesn’t get much accomplished without the help of her male counterpart, Luke. ‘Luke Fereday’ (no I’m not kidding) has chiseled features, drinks a lot of coffee because “caffeine never kept him up at night,” and goes to a lot of mysterious meetings in bars that make him look really cool…NOT. Jeremy, one of the cheesy antagonists, wears a suit and has a double life as a politician and guy with a Cajun accent who runs a drug cartel. The minor and secondary characters are one-dimensional and add little to the plot. There is unfortunately nothing good to note here. This being said, Bradley earns zero points for character development.
Creativity & Originality (0 points)
In conclusion, there is nothing creative or original to note in this novel. As such, this book should most certainly not be made into a Christian film or series. It is always our practice to point out the good in every novel and commend authors for their strengths, but there was, regrettably, nothing here to commend. Christian authors, we believe in you and the gifts Jesus has given you. Please, don’t write a story unless you are absolutely certain that you have been called by Him to do so. A book you write with Jesus can change the world for good.
Wish List Rating: .5 out of 10 points