Ten years ago, devastated by an ugly scandal, Brooke Martin fled the small town of Hayden to pursue a career as a stained glass artist. Now Brooke has returned on business to discover that some things never change. Her spotted reputation remains. Tongues still wag. And that makes what should be her dream assignment tough.Brooke has been hired to design new stained glass windows at Hayden Bible Church. The job is a career windfall. But Nick Marcello is overseeing the project, and some in the church think Nick and Brooke’s relationship is not entirely professional--and as before, there is no convincing those people otherwise. In the face of mounting rumors, the two set out to produce the masterpiece Nick has conceived: a brilliant set of windows displaying God’s covenants in the Bible. For Brooke, it is more than a project--it is a journey toward faith. But opposition is heating up. A vicious battle of words and will is about to tax Brooke’s commitment to the limit. Only this time, she is determined not to run.
Seasoned Christian suspense novelist Blackstock disappoints with this run-of-the-mill romance. The second Christian novel this year (Linda Dorrell's True Believers is the other) to focus on the renovation of a church and, in particular, the female protagonist's design of its stained glass windows, this story features a lovestruck pair of artists who are supposed to be offbeat and tortured, but in fact are ill-defined and bland. Brooke, a 20-something stained glass artist who, amid scandal, left her hometown immediately after her high school graduation, comes back to do a job and face the gossips who drove her away. Unfortunately for readers, the scandal a misinterpreted hug between student and teacher has no teeth, and it strains credulity to think that any town, even the caricaturish Hayden, Mo., could make so much of so little. Also problematic is that the former teacher, who is only six years Brooke's senior, is motivated to convert her to Christianity mostly because he wants to marry her, but would never marry an unbeliever. Stereotypes abound, including a wealthy, almost mechanically mean-spirited villainess and an Italian family complete with a dead grandfather whose clich d proverbs are remembered in over-the-top dialect ("You put-a care and-a love into everything you do, Nicky, and that's-a quality"). Blackstock generates enough interest in these characters and their predicaments to keep the pages turning, but the novel's predictable conclusion is telegraphed from the first page.