Review

Shadow in Serenity

by Terri Blackstock

Logan Brisco, raised by a loving, single mom, never knew his father. When his mother dies, five-year-old Logan begins years of hopping from one foster family to another. But the less-than-perfect life doesn’t dull his sharp mind and resourcefulness. When a master con artist makes 14-year-old Logan his apprentice, he becomes a skilled swindler. At 19, the authorities catch up with him, and Logan pays his debt to society and leaves jail determined to live straight. But old habits die hard, and Logan has a grand plan in mind when he sweeps into Serenity, Texas.

"A riveting plot, layered characters, good dialogue and a great pace make this a book you’ll want to pass around to friends and family."

Carny Sullivan knew both her parents…all too well. Born the child of traveling carnival cons, she grows up learning to swindle people and be on the constant lookout for the next “mark.” But conning people eats away at her heart. She longs to be like the children walking through the carnival, holding their parents’ hands, leading normal lives. At 17, Carny knows she has to break away. When the carnival stops in Serenity, Texas, and a sweet-talking local boy gives her hope for a normal future, Carny jumps at it. They marry and have a son, but Carny quickly discovers her husband loves drinking more than his wife or child. He dies of alcohol poisoning, leaving young Carny with a baby boy and little else. Eight years later, when a stranger comes to town, Carny knows she has to protect the people of Serenity, who have given her the love and life she always wanted.
 
Handsome, smooth-talking Logan can charm any man or woman in Serenity…except one. Carny knows a con when she sees one, and this Logan is a swindler from head to toe. She knows his plan to rejuvenate Serenity’s economy with an amusement park is nothing but a scam, and she’s not going to let her friends and neighbors get cheated out of their hard-earned money. But Carny’s warnings fall on deaf ears. Logan is a master at his craft, and the people of Serenity can’t hand over their money fast enough.
 
Logan finds Carny as intriguing as she is beautiful. As weeks go by, his growing fondness for her brings him closer and closer to breaking his mentor’s number one rule: never fall in love. He knows she sees right through him, but his scheme is already underway and he can’t back out. Unfortunately, Carny isn’t the only one stirring his heart. As he pretends to befriend the people of Serenity, the line between acting and real emotions blurs more each day. To further complicate matters, the pastor’s words during church service seep into his heart and soul --- something he had not planned. 
 
Carny is bothered and confused by her attraction to Logan. She knows he’s a liar and a cheat, but when he lets down his guard, she glimpses another Logan deep inside --- one that stirs her heart. When Logan breaks down all his walls, Carny finally admits her feelings for him. But the next day, Logan skips town with everyone’s money…and Carny’s heart. It seems she was just a mark, after all. But Logan isn’t done with Carny or Serenity, and God isn’t done with Logan.
 
SHADOW IN SERENITY is the kind of story you know will be good from page one. Author Terri Blackstock transports the reader to a Mayberry-type town where almost anyone would want to live. From the hardware store to the Clippity-Do-Dah hair salon, Serenity comes to life with lovable, colorful characters who are sweet, a bit naïve, and desperately in need of protection from a con man like Logan. Glimpses into Logan’s past elicit compassion from the reader, even though his scheme is detestable. It is fascinating to watch him transform from an arrogant swindler to a new creation, humbled by the love and grace of God. Carny is the tough girl with the tortured and tainted past that everyone loves to love.
 
A riveting plot, layered characters, good dialogue and a great pace make this a book you’ll want to pass around to friends and family.
 

Reviewed by Susan Miura on November 10, 2011

Shadow in Serenity
by Terri Blackstock