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Sunday, April 11, 2010

LDSWBR Episode 41 & Dangerous Connections by Julie Coulter Bellon

LDSWBR Podcast Episode 41 with author Julie Coulter Bellon is now available for download! Search for LDS Women's Book Review in iTunes to subscribe, or you can listen directly through the LDS Women's Book Review Podcast website. We had such a fun time with Julie.

She's been so patient and if I knew where to get some catsup (ketchup??) chips I'd probably buy Julie a whole case! (Podcast joke - listen to Episode 41 and laugh with us about it - you know you want to!) Don't forget to stick around for the blooper reel.

In honor of the release of our podcast with Julie, I am reviewing her latest book, Dangerous Connections, which was released in March. So go start the podcast and then come back here and read my review while you listen ;).

Title: Dangerous Connections

Author: Julie Coulter Bellon

Publisher: Covenant Communications

Published Date: March 2010

ISBN#: 978-1-59811-919-0

Paperback; 206 pages

Dangerous Connections is a spin-off of Julie's last book, All's Fair, and it continues Tyler's story. In a nutshell, Tyler and Isabella must figure out how to stop a terrorist plot while facing double agents and avoiding capture.

As soon as Tyler arrives at his hotel in Paris, things seem a little off. His father is nowhere to be found, but has left a note telling Tyler to return home to the United States immediately. Worried, Tyler opens a message intended for his father, finding only a name and phone number. Tyler decides to wait in Paris until he can figure out what is going on with his father.

When Tyler discovers he is being followed during a visit to the Musee d'Orsay, he uses his military training to incapacitate the man trailing him. Taking a chance, Tyler decides to call the number in the message left for his father, hoping to gather information. Instead he finds an attractive French agent, her wounded brother, and their mission to uncover both a terrorist plot and the al-Qaeda mole (or moles) within the French DGSE organization. Little does Tyler realize how his search for his father will connect him to their mission.

Tyler and Isabella are pursued by both the terrorists and the DGSE. Unsure who they can trust, they come so close to preventing disaster only to find themselves in the worst possible situation: captured by terrorists, surrounded by explosives, and helpless to stop the poisoning of several thousand U.S. troops.

Dangerous Connections is full of suspense and intrigue. Having spent time in France, Julie's knowledge of the locale is apparent throughout the book. Julie's respect for those who sacrifice to serve our country shows in the way she wrote Tyler. It's easy to see that Julie enjoys writing international intrigue.

What worked for me: I enjoy the characters and plots Julie creates. All's Fair and Dangerous Connections are just the right length for a quick, suspense-filled read. The ending was very intense, and I wondered how things could possibly work out.

Julie's heroines are always strong and capable women, which I appreciate. I loved it every time Isabella kicked a little hiney. I liked Tyler and his refusal to leave Isabella to face the terrorists alone. While the focus is on the suspense, there are some tender scenes (and a couple of nice kisses, too).

Tyler comes across The Book of Mormon a couple of times, and while neither Tyler nor Isabella are members, the discussion is centered around finding peace and isn't preachy at all.

What didn't work for me: I like the characters Julie writes, but I find myself wanting to know more about them. I understand that there isn't as much "time" to delve into a character in a suspense novel compared to, say, historical fiction, but if there was one thing I would suggest to Julie, it would be finding a way to let her readers really get to know and connect personally with the characters a bit more.

For example, I would have liked to have learned more about Tyler's father, Craig Winthrop. I wanted to be as concerned about him as Tyler seemed to be, but there wasn't much said about him, so I couldn't relate with Craig enough to care as much as I would have expected considering he was in danger.

On the other hand Isabella's concern for her brother, Marcus, was easier to connect with since he was more often on Isabella's mind, specifically giving insights into the kind of man and brother Marcus was to her. We got to know the character's character, so to speak. Getting to know Craig better through Tyler would have balanced the story out nicely.

Overall, I think Julie did a great job. I enjoyed Dangerous Connections and look forward to reading Julie's next novel.

A little about the author: Julie Coulter Bellon is a sweet and humble woman, mother of seven, basketball coach, teacher of journalism for BYU Continuing Education, blogger on Six LDS Writers and a Frog, and lover of catsup (ketchup?- someone please help me out here) chips :).

Julie will be teaching at the LDStoryMakers Conference. Click here to view the class schedule and to sign up for the Conference. Hurry, only a few days left to sign up!

Visit Julie's website at juliebellon.com. Follow Julie on Twitter: @juliebellon. Dangerous Connections is available for purchase from Deseret Book, Seagull Book and Amazon.

My rating: 4 stars (I liked it!)

Would I-
  • read it again? Yes
  • recommend it? Yes
  • read more books by Julie? That's the plan!

FTC FYI: I received a free review copy which did not affect my review.

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