Never Let You Go
Erin Healy's first solo novel places a hardworking but poverty-stricken single parent named Lexi in the center of a classic battle between good and evil. Seven years after a series of events turned her world upside down, the people most responsible for those events make a return appearance in her life: Warden, a drug dealer who is threatening to harm her daughter, Molly; Norman, who murdered Lexi's sister; and Grant, Lexi's husband, who abandoned her and Molly all those years ago.
Lexi's life is further complicated by the fact that her father has been confined to a mental institution since shortly after her sister's murder, and her mother, a travel writer, is seldom around to help --- and isn't much help when she is around. Her primary champion is her Christian roommate, who has been hospitalized and can't help her much in her current dilemma. Enter Angelo, who works at the mental hospital and has a way of showing up when Lexi needs his help the most.
As Ward's threats intensify and take shape, Lexi begins to lose her grip on reality, which sets up the supernatural element of the story. Unlikely and unexplainable events --- some bizarre, some miraculous --- begin to occur just about everywhere Lexi goes, with most of them tied in some way to Ward.
The basic storyline is plausible, though some of the details and events in the book are not, and much of the book is confusing. The novel's greatest strength is Healy's characterization of Lexi, who for the most part is a character readers will sympathize with; single mothers who are struggling to make a living and keep it all together when it's all falling apart will almost certainly relate to her. Other characters aren't as well developed. The male characters who are introduced early on are so indistinct that it's hard to keep them straight; Ward, in fact, bears little resemblance to the character Healy described in the backstory.
For many years, Healy was bestselling author Ted Dekker's editor, and she co-wrote two novels with him, KISS and BURN, both of which were satisfying reads. NEVER LET YOU GO is a decent, satisfying read on some levels, but its unevenness underscores the fact that even the best editors need strong editorial support when they become authors. Many of the flaws in this novel could have easily been avoided. The characters' names are so contrived that you know right away, for example, the role Warden will play in Lexi's life and who Angelo really is. That and other predictable elements detract from what could have been a highly suspenseful story.
If you're willing and prepared to do the work involved in sifting through and sorting out the confusing elements as well as the initially confusing characters, and if you like a bit of the supernatural along with the suspense, then NEVER LET YOU GO may be for you. But if you're easily frustrated by books that make you go back and re-read portions to see what you missed --- only to discover that the problem wasn't with your reading at all --- then it's likely that you won't see this book through to the end. And that's a shame, because Healy has proven her talents in the past, and she deserved better direction on her first solo effort.