Q & A With Author Lisa Betz

Lisa Betz

New to me authors are the best! I have just had the opportunity to read Death and a Crocodile by Lisa Betz (my review is coming in the next couple of days) and I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to her and her new book.

I have to admit that the book title would probably not have drawn me in. I only became aware of the book because the author reached out to me. I am thrilled that she did because it is a fascinating story. Who would ever think about a lady detective in ancient Rome? Well Lisa Betz did and she's put together a wonderful story that will captivate and entertain you. 

I thought you might enjoy a little bit of background on her and the story in general before you dive in and read her newest book! Here's a little Q&A for your enjoyment.

1. What drew you to set a mystery in first-century Rome? 

My interest in ancient Roman culture stems from many years teaching Bible studies. I have tried to absorb as much as possible about the culture and history of the Roman Empire so I can bring the ancient world to life and make the Bible more relevant to modern Christians. 

I chose the mid-first century because I couldn’t write a light-hearted story with a snarky main character that was set during the Great Fire of Rome, or the persecutions that came after that. I’ve chosen to set the novel during the reign of Emperor Claudius, which means the story takes place a dozen years before Paul first visits the city. 

One of the challenges I faced when researching this time period is a lack of “inside information” about the earliest days of church history. Most of what we know about how the early Christian churches functioned comes from later periods, when persecution was a problem and the Christians had been forced to become selective about who they allowed into their fellowship. I have imagined the church at this stage was open to curious visitors, and had not yet developed the lengthy catechisms that converts were required to complete in later centuries. 

2. How much freedom did women have back then? 

Is it feasible for a female to be a sleuth in that period? The Roman Empire was very much a patriarchal society. That being said, women enjoyed more rights during the Roman Empire than they’ve been allowed in most of the centuries leading up to modern times. For example, women could inherit property, run businesses, initiate lawsuits, and divorce their husbands. A clever and determined woman like Livia could find ways to investigate a mystery, although she would encounter obstacles a male wouldn’t face. 

I knew there would be limits to what a young female sleuth could do without ruining her reputation, so from the start I knew she would need male allies to collect information from places or persons inaccessible to her. She will be collecting those allies as the series progresses. 

I have taken my inspiration for Livia from a host of other female sleuths who solve crimes despite the constraints of their historical eras. A few examples include: Lindsey Davis’s Flavia Albia, Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody, Margaret Frazers’s Dame Frevisse, and Jane Finnis’s Aureila Marcella. (You might notice that two of the sleuths I mentioned also thwart crime during the Roman Empire. So Livia is in good company.) 

3. What is the significance of the coin shown on the cover of the book? 

When my sleuth’s father is murdered, she finds an old coin on his body that has an image of a crocodile on one side. From the start she’s convinced it’s an important clue, although in the end it doesn’t turn out to mean what she thinks it does. Despite her incorrect assumptions, the coin leads her to important information and plays a part in the final solution. 

This particular coin was minted in about 10 AD. The crocodile chained to a palm tree represents the conquest of Egypt, when Augustus defeated Cleopatra and Mark Antony. If Livia had been paying attention during history lessons, she could have told you it was the decisive victory that ended the civil war and allowed Augustus to become sole leader, which eventually led to him becoming emperor, thus ending the Roman Republic and starting the Roman Empire.

4. What kind of persecution does Livia face for her faith in Christ? 

At this time the Christian church was in it’s infancy. It was operating under the radar of the Roman government. When they noticed it at all, they thought it was a sect of Judaism, which meant the earliest Christians enjoyed the same religious freedoms that were granted to Jews. 

Once the authorities realized Christianity was a new and separate religion things changed. At that point Christianity became a religio illicita, or an unauthorized religion, and therefore open to government persecution. 

Due to the early date, Livia doesn’t face active persecution from the authorities. She does face disapproval from her parents and others. Her parents adhere to a strict notion of traditional and respectable behavior. They would interpret Livia’s adoption of any nonRoman religion as abandoning her heritage, which could bring dishonor to the family and risk the disfavor of the gods. They would insist she give up her new beliefs and ban her from visiting her Christian friends. To avoid this, she’d kept her faith a secret, but sooner or later she’s going to have to admit it and deal with the consequences.

5. One of the issues your heroine faces in the book is an arranged marriage. What could a woman of her day do about that? 

A marriage would typically be arranged between the girl’s father and the groom. According to Roman law, a father couldn’t force his daughter into a marriage if she didn’t consent to it, so theoretically a woman had a say in the matter. But I doubt many girls really had a choice. If a daughter defied her father’s wishes, she might face being disinherited or kicked from the house. Few women could afford to take that risk. 

Livia understands the realities of her society. She daydreams about swaying her father’s choice, but she doesn’t really expect her father will listen to her. When her father dies before finalizing the betrothal, she thinks she’s been given a lucky break. Her brother will take over as her guardian and she’s confident she can talk him into letting her marry the suitor of her choice. 

But then her brother is accused of murder and it looks like her uncle may gain control of the household. If he succeeds, he’ll force Livia to marry the husband of her worst nightmares. The rest of the story is Livia’s attempt to control her destiny by proving her brother is innocent so he can remain her guardian and protect her from her uncle’s schemes.

6. Many of your characters, including the sleuth and her sidekick, are misfits. Explain your reasons behind this choice. 

I have never been good at fitting into the accepted mold of whatever group I was with. I guess that’s why I’ve always been drawn to stories that feature misfits and underdogs. I understand the pain of not being cool or popular, and I respect others (real or fictional) who are brave enough to overcome and succeed despite their underdog status. 

Living with authenticity is one of my core beliefs. In my blog I encourage my readers to appreciate their true selves and risk revealing their real persona to the world. In my novels I intentionally include characters who don’t fit the conventional mold. Then I show the heroic or honorable qualities hiding inside these people whom others see as flawed or useless. 

My heroine is a free spirit who flaunts convention more publicly than I would dare. She needed a sidekick that could keep up with her, so I gave her a streetwise maid who speaks when she should keep her moth shut and lacks the polish of a traditional lady’s maid. She’s the prefect servant for a woman who decides to investigate a murder without any idea how to go about it.

7. You mention a sausage-snatching cat in your book description. Is the cat an important character? 

I’ve always been a cat lover, so I decided to give my sidekick character a cat—specifically a stealthy black cat named Nemesis who lives up to her namesake (the goddess of retribution and justice) by exterminating as many thieving vermin as she can catch. She’s a minor character who tends to appear out of nowhere, often to do something naughty like steal a bite of sausage. She adds a bit of tension or humor to the scenes where she appears. Although Nemesis doesn’t actually assist in finding the criminals, Livia uses the cat to create a distraction when she wants to slip away unnoticed. Who knows which of Nemesis’ feline attributes will prove useful in future stories.

8. Did the Romans actually keep cats as pets? 

What other pets did they have? Cats were probably kept more for their mousing abilities than to be pets, but they were definitely around. I’ve seen several ancient mosaics featuring cats, and also a tombstone of a child holding a cat. One mosaic shows a cat stalking birds at a birdbath, which I think shows the artist’s sense of humor. As with modern society, some homeowners obviously had a sense of humor when it came to art. 

Caged birds were popular pets in Roman times. The Romans also kept dogs, monkeys, and even snakes as pets. The wealthy sometimes collected whole menageries of exotic animals, everything from crocodiles to giraffes to lions.

9. Have you tried any of the unusual ancient recipes you describe in the book? 

A few. I made a pork stew with raisin sauce that was quite delicious. Another thing I’ve experimented with is must cake. In my book, must cake is a favorite of Livia’s aunt. Must is crushed grape pulp and juice, and was a common sweetener. The recipe I tried was adapted from Cato’s writings. It was fairly dense and strongly flavored with cumin, anise, and bay leaf, with only a hint of sweetness. I’m sure the ones Livia purchases at Pansa’s bakery for her aunt are sweeter, flakier, and more subtly flavored. 

Roman cooking in the first century was very different from modern Italian cuisine. Many foods we associate with Italy, such as pasta with red sauce, polenta, and cappuccino were not available to the ancients. Tomatoes and corn, for example, are new world foods, which didn’t arrive in Europe until the sixteenth century. 

Also, ancient Romans favored certain herbs that are no longer typical, such as rue (very bitter and potentially poisonous) and sylphium, which they loved so much they ate it into extinction. Another popular flavoring was a salty sauce made from fermented fish called garum. They used is as a condiment and as a common ingredient in sauces and stews. 

With ingredients like those, many of the recipes handed down to us by the ancients don’t sound very appealing. I’ll leave it to Livia and her friends to enjoy some of the odder recipes without me. 

10. What surprises did you encounter in your research? 

Slavery in the Roman world worked very differently than out modern concepts. Possibly half the population of Rome were slaves, and they faced a broad spectrum of living conditions, from prisoners of war doing forced labor to educated men like doctors, tutors, or architects. Some slaves were set up to run a business and actually had slaves of their own. 

Slaves who served a wealthy household had a good chance of gaining their freedom, either by earning enough money to buy themselves out of slavery, or by being granted their freedom for good service. It was common for wealthy men to free slaves in their wills. In fact, laws were passed to limit how many slaves a man was allowed to free in his will. 

Many freed slaves, known as freedmen, were granted citizen status, a valuable commodity in the Roman world. Citizenship gave legal protections not granted to non-citizens. Thus a poor freedman might enjoy rights denied to a wealthy merchant from a province like Gaul or Syria. And not all freedmen were poor. Some became quite wealthy. Inscriptions show that freedmen sometimes paid for large public buildings. 

Then there were imperial freedmen, which are a class on their own. Many freedmen from the imperial household became civil servants. Men like Narcissus and Pallas, who were freedmen of Claudius, served as his most trusted advisors. They amassed vast fortunes and wielded great power. Another example of a powerful freedman was Antonius Felix, who served as procurator of Judea. 

At the other end of the social spectrum, certain professions, such as actors, gladiators, and prostituted, were considered infamia and had reduced rights even if they were citizens.

11. Is your sleuth anything like you? 

Yes and no. I don’t think I’m assertive enough or nosy enough to be a good sleuth. But I do enjoy solving challenging puzzles an I have an independent streak. Like Livia, I want to be appreciated for the real me, rather than pretending to fit somebody else’s mold. Plus, we’re both fond of cats and have strong opinions about food. 

However, Livia is more determined and energetic than I am. I wanted a heroine who had both the smarts and the gumption to solve crimes even when the men around her were trying to make her stop. She also needed an outgoing personality so she could talk herself out of problems (when she chases after clues without considering the consequences) and into the houses of total strangers (when she needs to ask a few nosy questions). 

Ultimately, she’s a combination of many women I have admired over the years who had boundless energy, a zest for life, and enough drive to make their goals come to pass no matter the odds. My grandmother is one of my role models for her.

12. You started your professional career as an engineer. How did you end up writing mystery novels? 

I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up dreaming about becoming an author. English was never my favorite class, or even my third-favorite. Throughout high school and college I focused on the analytical side of my brain, eventually majoring in mechanical engineering and taking a job at a manufacturing plant. 

And yet, all along I was nurturing my creative side as well: reading tons of books, attending and participating in live theater, writing silly drama for my friends to perform. So you see, stories and storytelling were always a part of my life. I love math and science because they’re predictable and logical, but stories are what grab my full attention. Stories have the power to transport me away from my reality to another world. 

Story’s power to transport me happens when I’m writing as well as when I’m reading a book or watching a movie. That’s what has captured my heart and sustained me through years of learning the craft of writing.

13. How has your engineering background helped you in your writing career? 

During my years as a stay-at-home mom I often wondered if I’d wasted my time and money majoring in engineering. I’d worked at a manufacturing plant for six years, but I hadn’t found it as fulfilling as I’d hoped. For a while I worked as a substitute teacher, where my math and science background was put to good use. I wondered if maybe I should pursue teaching full-time, but I never felt a strong enough passion to start that journey. 

When my youngest went off to college I finally had to face this what-do-I-want-to-do-withmy-life question head-on. Was I supposed to be an engineer? A teacher? A writer? I listened to my heart and chose writing. I made peace with “quitting” my engineering career and I choose to believe that those years weren’t wasted, even though I have moved on to other pursuits.

So, to answer the question, my engineering background taught me to think analytically, to solve problems, and to look for ways to improve things. These are all skills that are useful in writing, especially a mystery where small details are important and clues have to be placed in just the right spot. Sleuths, like engineers, must think logically and enjoy solving challenging puzzles. Writers, like engineers, must look at their work with an eye to find what is working well and what needs to be improved.

14. Where do you see this series going? 

I am hoping that Livia will be solving mysteries for many years. I have a novella and two additional mysteries plotted, with ideas for more. The second novel begins shortly after Livia is married. (You’ll have to read the end of book one to find out who her husband will be.) 

As the second novel progresses, Livia and her husband slowly move from the wary mistrust of strangers to mutual respect. Neither entered marriage expecting to find love, but they will eventually get there. As the series develops, they’ll learn how to become a team when it comes to solving crimes. 

Livia will join a house church near her new home, led by Asyncritus, one of the believers mentioned at the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans. As important events in church history occur, such as the Jerusalem council of Acts fifteen, Livia and her fellow believers will hear about them and figure out how it affects them. It may be that Paul or Peter will make a cameo appearance someday, but I prefer to focus on lesser-known characters. 

One that intrigues me is the mention of believers in the household of Narcissus. Is this the same Narcissus who served as secretary to Emperor Claudius and was one of the most powerful men in the empire? Livia and her husband should know better than to get mixed up with dangerous men like Narcissus, but a good novel is all about conflict, so who knows what may happen.

15. What was your goal in writing this book? 

My primary goal was to create an entertaining story for readers who prefer novels that don’t include sex, violence, or swearing. However, I wasn’t interested in creating a typical Christian historical romance. I have always been drawn to books that were different than what everyone else was reading, and so I wanted to write a story that was a bit unusual. That’s how I ended up writing a mystery set in first-century Rome. It combines the intriguing setting of a far off time and place with the action and suspense of a mystery. 

I also wanted to create a main character with a strong voice, a quirky sense of humor, and a moral worldview that could appeal to readers in both the Christian and secular markets. I like novels where a Christian worldview is shown as a valid option without making a big deal over it. My heroine is far from perfect, and she will have plenty of moral and spiritual challenges to face as she grows in her faith and in her relationships. I hope her struggles will be relevant and encouraging to readers.

Death and a Crocodile is available now!

Here are some great ways to connect with Lisa Betz.


Miriam's Song by Jill Eileen Smith | Biblical Fiction Review

Miriam's Song by Jill Eileen Smith

Biblical Fiction

She has prayed for deliverance from Egypt.

But perhaps the greatest liberation happens within the heart.

From the very beginning, Miriam has lived in her younger brother's shadow. Thrust into the role of protective older sister before Moses was even born, she will grow up into a woman who not only keeps her family's secret but bears the burden of leading a new nation.

In her mind, she knows that she is serving both her God and her people. But in her heart, Miriam yearns for more. She longs to experience the privileges Moses has--to talk with God face-to-face. But when God finally does speak directly to her, the outcome is not at all what she expects.

With her impeccable research and keen eye for detail, bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith offers this epic novel to fill in the gaps in Miriam's story, following her from childhood to motherhood, obscurity to notoriety, and yearning to fulfillment as she learns that what God promises He provides--in His own perfect timing.

Read an excerpt.
Read An Excerpt
My Thoughts

Miriam's Song may be Jill Eileen Smith's best book yet! I've read all of her other biblical fiction and I am always impressed with the detail and accuracy she brings to each story. If you've not yet read one of her books you need to treat yourself soon.

In the biblical account Moses is the main character, as he should be. Miriam is his older sister and we meet her with the account of her brother's birth. After that the story shifts primarily to Moses. But who is Miriam? What was going on in her life in the intervening years between Moses' birth and the time when the Israelites are set free?

Jill fills in the gaps with information we know and what we can assume was taking place.  Before I read one of her books I like to read over the biblical account so I can keep in mind what is fact and what is fiction. Every time I have been impressed with her ability to merge the two while remaining dedicated to the historical record.

If you've never read biblical fiction because you are hesitant about the fiction aspect I urge you to give Miriam's Song a try. I think you will lose yourself in the beauty of the story of a woman chosen by God to uphold His servant Moses. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading many more by her.

Connect With The Author

Jill Eileen Smith
Photo Credit: © J. Lynn Perry Photography

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell to facilitate my review.


The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey | Juvenile Fiction Review

The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey

A.S. Mackey
Juvenile Fiction
Ages 8-14

"Hello, Reader. I am honored to know you."

Tragedy is sometimes followed by mystery, at least that's what faces 13-year-old Piper and her brother, Phoenix, who has autism. Mourning the loss of their parents, they must move a thousand miles away to live with their insufferable Aunt Beryl. But it is in their aunt's cavernous library that Piper and Phoenix hear a mysterious book calling to them. Its name is Novus Fabula, and its story will change their lives forever.

"What's that you say? Books cannot speak? On the contrary, dear Reader. Quite the contrary. Books are one of the few things on this earth that truly speak. Let me show you."

Join Piper and Phoenix in the Verboten Library as they begin an intriguing journey of grief, wonder, and the search for Truth. If you stand with them at the edge of everywhen, you just might discover the story you need to hear as well.

Other Resources

If you would like to know a bit more about the book you can read a preview HERE.

There is also a wonderful activity book that allows the reader to interact with elements of the story and also begin their own story. You can download it HERE.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to facilitate this post.


Books for Your Easter Baskets

 Are you looking for some ideas to fill those Easter baskets? How about some delightful new books? We've got some lovely suggestions that we think you and your children will enjoy!

Easter Egg Day by Tara Knudson

Tara Knudson
illustrataed by Pauline Siewert
Board Book

It’s time for Easter eggs—yellow, green, blue, and red! In Easter Egg Day, written by Tara Knudson and illustrated by Pauline Siewert, kids will love watching how plain white eggs turn to colorful zig-zags, stripes, and patterns as this board book celebrates the classic Easter family tradition.

Neighbors, friends,
At the door,
Baskets held,
Eggs galore!

Easter Egg Day’s sweet read-aloud rhymes and bright illustrations are perfect for cherishing holiday memories—and making new ones! Parents and grandparents will love sharing this book with their little ones—who will be inspired to create their own unique eggs after reading this adorable story.

Twas the Morning of Easter by Glenys Nellist

by Glenys Nellist
illustrated by Elena Selivanova

A follow-up to the popular ’Twas the Evening of Christmas from beloved author Glenys Nellist. ’Twas the Morning of Easter tells the story of the resurrection of Jesus in a fresh way, with a familiar rhythm and rhyme that children will love, following the pattern of Clement Moore’s iconic “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Glenys Nellist, beloved author of the bestselling ’Twas the Evening of Christmas, reveals the joy and beauty of the resurrection of Jesus in a fresh, inspiring way in ’Twas the Morning of Easter. Using the classic cadence of Clement Moore’s iconic poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” this gorgeous picture book shares the true story of Easter with little ones with read-aloud rhymes and engaging illustrations by Elena Selivanova. With an eye-catching cover decorated in shining foil and embossing, this book is perfect for any Easter basket and sure to be a treasured Easter tradition for years to come.

The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story

by Jan & Mike Berenstain

Young readers will understand the real meaning behind Easter in this addition to the Living Lights™ series of Berenstain Bears books. Children will discover that Easter is more than candy and egg hunts as they read about the Bear cubs at Sunday school learning about Jesus’ resurrection and salvation.

The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story—part of the popular Zonderkidz Living Lights series of books—is perfect for:
  • Early readers ages 4-8—children will enjoy the sheet of colorful stickers included
  • Reading out loud at home or in church small groups
  • Sparking age appropriate conversations about salvation
He Is Risen

Rocks Tell The Story of Easter
by Patti Rokus

This unique and unforgettable picture book uses rock art and simple text to tell children the story of the miracle of Easter—the resurrection of Jesus. Through the arrangement of a few rocks and powerful words directly from Scripture, the entire Easter story is told in He Is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter.

Young readers will be intrigued by the nature-filled artwork that shows the death and resurrection of Jesus and the celebration of the very first Easter in a powerful and unique way. He Is Risen is perfect for:
  • Children ages 4-8
  • Sharing the true story of Easter in a new and memorable way
  • Easter gifts, including basket stuffers
  • Inspiring creative art projects using natural items such as rocks, sticks, and leaves
Stay This Way Forever

by Linsey Davis
illustrated by Lucy Fleming

Celebrate the joy, wonder, and innocence of being a child with this love letter to the loved ones in your life that encourages them to celebrate their own special qualities now and into the future.

Inspired by the endearing qualities she sees in her own son, Linsey Davis, ABC News correspondent and bestselling author of The World Is Awake and One Big Heart, has written another beautiful book that parents and grandparents can share with their little ones to let them know how special they are. With charming illustrations from bestselling artist Lucy Fleming paired with playful and heartwarming read-aloud rhymes, this book can help make a lasting impact on young minds as they discover their own unique qualities.

Near: Psalm 139 by Sally Lloyd-Jones

by Sally Lloyd-Jones
illustrated by Jago

From Sally Lloyd-Jones, the author of the bestselling The Jesus Storybook Bible, comes an uplifting new board book in a soft padded format that is a perfect fit for little hands. Inspired by Psalm 139—which begins, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me”—Near’s lyrical text reminds little ones that God is with them anywhere they go in God’s wide world.

God is my Father who made everything.

And I am a little explorer of the wide world.

He is near me

And he protects me.

He sees me

And he knows me.

He is strong

And he looks after me.He is with me—always!

The Berenstain Bears Learn About Heaven

by Mike Berenstain

Young children are encouraged to ask big questions about heaven in this inspiring addition to the Berenstain Bears Living Lights™ series. As they read about Sister Bear and her curiosity about what heaven is, readers have the perfect opportunity to ask their own questions and discuss what heaven is, where it is, how you get there, and more.

NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls

Created especially for girls ages 8 to 12, this beautiful Bible, sticker sheets and coloring pencil set provides the tools for young artists to express themselves.

Girls will get creative through coloring and journaling in the NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible for Girls. Included are pencils to color, blend and shade the detailed line art surrounding hundreds of inspiring verses. This Bible gift set is perfect for the special young girl in your life and will become a cherished keepsake full of personalized creative expressions of faith.

Features include:
  • Complete text of the accurate, readable and clear New International Version (NIV)
  • Over 600 verses illustrated in ready-to-color line art
  • Four colored pencils
  • Six sheets of stickers designed for girls
  • Thick white paper for writing and doodling
  • Lined, wide margins for notes and reflections
  • Satin ribbon marker
  • Beautifully debossed and screen-printed cover
  • Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print® typeface in a readable 8-point print size

Using the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV) text makes the Bible accessible and easy-to-read for kids. The NIV is the result of over 50 years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, who oversee the efforts of many contributing scholars. Representing the spectrum of evangelicalism, the translators come from a wide range of denominations and various countries and continually review new research to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance, and authority. Every NIV Bible that is purchased helps Biblica translate and give Bibles to people in need around the world.

Candace's Playful Puppy

by Candace Cameron Bure
illustrated by Christine Battuz

Candace’s Playful Puppy is for every boy or girl who has ever wanted a dog and every parent who knows the responsibility that goes along with caring for a new pet. Written by New York Times bestselling author and actress Candace Cameron Bure, laugh along with this story of a little girl who visits a pet shelter to adopt a cuddly new dog and comes home with a rambunctious pup instead.

We hope this gives you some ideas to fill out that Easter basket. Zonderkidz has a gift guide on their Amazon store which connects to many other resources for gift ideas.

Have a blessed Easter!

Disclaimer: I received copies of these books from Zonderkidz to facilitate this post.

Unknown Threat (Defend and Protect #1) by Lynn H. Blackburn | Romantic Suspense Review

Unknown Threat by Lynn H Blackburn

Defend and Protect #1
Romantic Suspense

US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell is lucky to be alive. Three of his fellow agents have died in unusual circumstances in the past ten weeks. Luke is devastated by the loss of his friends and colleagues, and his inability to locate the killer feels like a personal failure. He and his team are experts at shielding others, but now the protectors are in need of protection.

FBI Special Agent Faith Malone is driven to succeed and confident in her ability to solve every case she's assigned. She's been put in charge of the investigation into the unprecedented attacks, and with Luke's life in danger, the stakes have never been higher. But it's hard to know how to fight back when you don't know who the enemy is.

Luke has teamed up with Faith before, but he's not convinced she's up for the job and she's not convinced he's telling her everything he knows. As more agents are targeted, Luke and Faith will have to learn to trust each other and work together to bring a killer to justice and prevent any more names from joining their fallen brothers and sisters on the Secret Service Wall of Honor.

My Thoughts

Lynn Blackburn's new series Defend and Protect has an explosive new start with Unknown Threat. Secret Service agents are being attacked and killed from an unknown assailant. Since they don't investigate their own the FBI is brought in. These two agencies do not always play nice together.

Luke Powell is with the Secret Service and Faith Malone is with the FBI. They both have their own issues that complicate working together but there is a definite draw to the other. As the danger heats up so does their personal relationship.

Lynn Blackburn's ability to paint a moving picture through words is on full display in this story. You can smell the explosives, feel the tension rising, taste the Cherry Coke, and hear the whisper of footsteps by an intruder. She has given us an interesting variety of characters that I personally look forward to reading more about in the coming books. She has done a masterful job of portraying our defenders. Her in-depth research into these fields makes the story believable and allows the reader to become totally engrossed in the tale.

If you are a fan of crime dramas I think you will enjoy this novel and series. At the end of this book there is a sneak peek of book two and it has me eagerly anticipating it's release. I highly recommend you check this book out.  

Connect With The Author

Lynn H Blackburn
Photo Credit: Mary Denman

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell to facilitate my review.


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