Book Review: "Heart of Lies" by Jill Marie Landis

Summary from Raised in a tribe of street urchins, Maddie Grande was taught to be a thief and beggar on the streets of New Orleans. But Maddie doesn't know her real name or where she came from. Raised by Dexter Grande, Maddie and her twin 'brothers' have recently left New Orleans and moved to the bayou. The twins are rarely there, but Maddie has come to love the swamp. She has learned to fish and trap and sell pelts at the local mercantile.Maddie longs to change her life but knows that her brothers will never give up their lawless ways. When they kidnap the daughter of a wealthy carpetbagger, the twins force Maddie to hide the precocious eight-year-old while they return to New Orleans to wait for notice of a reward.Pinkerton agent Tom Abbott is assigned to the kidnapping case in which Maddie has become an accomplice. In a journey that takes them to Baton Rouge, a mutual attraction becomes evident, but Tom and Maddie cannot trust each other.Will Maddie ever discover who she is? Will her real family ever find her? Will Maddie and Tom listen to their hearts? Or will they choose honor over love?

After being highly impressed with the first book in this series as well as the fact that I am traveling to Louisiana this week, I had looked forward to the second book the Irish Angels series. Unfortunately this book fell short of my expectations. While there is material that I found highly interesting, most of the story seemed to go the way of both traditional romances or Christian historical romances. I didn't feel as if I got to know Maddie as well as I had Laura from the first book.

I felt Maddie's and Tom's relationship to be extremely rushed. I didn't feel this from Maddie's end so much as I did Tom's. I mean he's known her for a few days and already he wants to smell her hair or kiss her? He knows nothing about her but is already falling in love? Also I felt too much emphasis was placed on Tom's position as a Pinkerton agent. I feel that authors tend to use this label too often to make their hero be able to get in places normal people can't. From what I've studied, the agents didn't have all the prestige or privileges they tend to have in books.

I did find the plight of the street children to be fascinating and disturbing at the same time. It's extremely sad to hear about what happened to orphans and those who were unwanted. I have always found society's views on orphans to be disheartening especially when they are treated as if it is their fault their parents are dead. What Maddie did to make the children "forget and change" is psychologically horrifying and the ramifications of her actions continue to haunt her. I wish more emphasis had been placed on that part of the story as opposed to the romance.

Overall, it was a less satisfying read but still interesting. The culture is interesting and for the most part, the plot is unique in Christian fiction. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of Laura and Maddie's siblings being rediscovered so I will continue reading the rest of the books in the series.

Heart of Lies by Jill Marie Landis is published by Zondervan (2011)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Other books in the Irish Angel series that I have reviewed:

Heart of Stone
(Book 1)


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