Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Grace Painter, Mark Romang (4 stars) Review & Giveaway

About The Grace Painter

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is the one reflecting back at you from inside a mirror. Matthew London can attest to this difficult truth. Ever since the former NYPD hostage negotiator changed his identity and fled New York City for the backwaters of Louisiana, regret has ruled his life.

For eight years London has lived like a hermit in a declining plantation house. Only his talent for painting Renaissance-style murals and paintings keeps the inner-demons from totally destroying him. Each day the disgraced hostage negotiator longs for a chance at redemption, never expecting it to actually happen. But then a down-on-her-luck FBI agent shows up on his doorstep one evening. It turns out Jean-Paul and Sebastian Boudreaux, two local brothers famous for lawlessness have inadvertently kidnapped a little girl.

London is quickly thrust into the starring role of a daring rescue attempt. But before he can rescue the child from the dangerous Boudreaux brothers, he first must find a way to forgive himself for a past misstep, a blunder that forever altered his once promising life. But in the Atchafalaya Basin swampland, nothing is promised. Grace cannot be purchased or earned. It can only be given.


After a brutal hostage situation, one where he suffered personal loss, Matthew London changes his identity and heads to Louisiana. Now Jon Rafter, he lives under the dark cloud of regret and self-blame. He spends his days painting and secluded. 

Annie Crawford, an FBI agent, is forced to face her demons when a young girl is kidnapped. Refusing to let this girl suffer Annie's fate, she lays everything on the line to rescue her. When the rescue goes wrong, Annie and Jon are brought together. 

When Annie shares her plans with Jon, both have their reasons for taking off in a brutal storm to save a girl from the notoriously dangerous Boudreaux brothers. Will they get to the girl in time? Can both of them heal the scars of past demons?

And all of this is only the tip of the iceberg. Several lives become involved in bringing down the Boudreaux brothers, and particularly Sebastian Boudreaux. The story pulled me in from the opening harrowing scene, one that expertly sets up why Matthew/Jon flees to isolation, and kept me riveted until the last page. 

By the end, there were so many characters I cared about... each intricately developed and intertwined. At first the underlying religious theme was subtle, but it grew with each devastating event. There is a scene with the kidnapped girl, locked in a dark closet, that will be with me for a long time. I even fell in love with Jon's dog, Samson... that's how great the character development was.

Why a 4 rating, then, you might ask? 

With many characters and side stories, I felt whiplashed at times. I'd be so invested in what was happening and then a new chapter (and a jump from one place to another) tore me away. Within pages, I was back on track, but I wish it had been a slightly smoother ride. Mark Romang could have written two separate books with the amount of story and character development he had in this novel. 

I highly recommend this novel to readers who want to be invested in a character within the first few pages. Rarely have I cared so much about so many characters so quickly. There are several wonderful elements for readers to invest in: an endearing romance, heart-pounding action, memorable characters, and an intricate road to redemption and grace. Take a chance on The Grace Painter

Rating: 4 stars

Mark Romang's Bio

I was born in 1967. Avid reader, suspense novelist, faithful husband, baffled father, factory worker, reformed head-banger, failed musician, contact sports lover, MMA enthusiast, distressed KC sports fan, Lord of the Rings geek, workout fiend, dog owner, nature lover, proud American, disgruntled voter, pistachio addict, caffeine-riddled, screw-up saved by grace, sojourner. This is me in a nutshell.

Find out more about the author on his website, Facebook, and GoodReads.

This is a blog tour, please visit the The Grace Painter blog tour page for more stops.
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Note: I received a complimentary copy from Tribute Books for review purposes. No other compensation was received. A positive review was not guaranteed or requested; the views expressed are my own.

For more information on Tribute Books, please visit their website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.


Tribute Books said...

Tia, I got chills just from reading your line about the scene with the kidnapped girl locked in the closet. Thanks for the review!

Mark Romang said...

Tia, thank you for reviewing The Grace Painter. Your kind words put a smile on my face.

Tia Bach said...

Nicole, It's an amazing scene, and I was not expecting it. I hope every little girl in that situation has that experience. It would give me some peace.

Mark, You should teach classes in character development. I hated to finish and say goodbye to them.