For the longest time novellas did not appeal to me. They seemed not as tightly constructed as short stories; the additional length gave too much space and time for extra characters and meandering details. At the same time, the shortened length vs. a novel required the author to limit setting details and in-depth characterization -- the very items that breathe a sense of genuineness into a work. Then I listened to a few novella collections while sewing, and I realized that the shorter length fit well into an afternoon time span, perfect for a few hours of quilting. By time I was done for the day, I was also done with the story. No need to wonder what would happen next and no need to try to get the audio finished before I forgot the plot. So when I had the opportunity to read advance copies of the three stories in SINS OF THE PAST, a romantic suspense novella by three of my favorite Christian suspense authors, I grabbed the chance.
I suspect that writing a romantic suspense novella might be a tad more challenging than writing a simple romance. There must be all the elements of a mystery -- sleuth and or victim of the suspense, a villian plus extra suspects, and of course, a disappearance, theft or some type of crime. Since these stories are of the romantic suspense genre, there must also be a budding romance. All this needs to be done in about 90 pages. No time for frills, but still the author must attack the job with the same finesse as writing a full-fledged novel. So to be truthful, I was not sure if the end products would be worth my reading time. I can pleasantly admit that each novella fit perfectly into my hectic spring reading schedule and were totally enjoyable. In MISSING by Dee Henderson, Police Chief John Graham quickly leaves his Cheyenne, Wyoming post when he receives word from the Chicago area that his mother, a resident at a retirement home, is missing. He soon finds the investigation is being competently handled by Lieutenant Sharon Noble, but no real information about his mother's whereabouts has surfaced. Henderson offers readers a story very different from most suspense writing and I encourage you to find out what I mean by my observation.
Dani Pettrey is known for her Alaskan Courage series featuring the McKenna family. They star in the novella SHADOWED, but this time the setting is Alaska 1979 and features Ben McKenna (father to the McKennas of the Alaskan Courage series) and Libby, a professional distance swimmer. When Ben's boat takes Libby on a whale watching cruise, they discover the body of a Russian swimmer. She also happens to be Libby's former roommate. Libby believes the woman had been involved in some type of spying, but has no proof. You know, I liked the return to the 70's and Pettrey's references to Jansport backpacks, Walkmans, jean coveralls and more.
I've come to expect lots of action from Lynette Eason and despite the short length of BLACKOUT, the novella delivered. Bits and pieces of repressed memories are surfacing in Macey Adams's nightmares, headaches, and visions, but nothing that will let her remember the details of that horrible night six years ago. Now she fears that someone knows she is remembering and is out to stop her permanently. Could it be her former boyfriend who was recently released from prison? When her home is broken into, Macey finally accepts the friendship and assistance of Chad Lathan, a neighbor who just happens to be on the police force. There's a twist to this story, one I am happy to admit I figured out, but that did not diminish the impact of the ending.
I received a copy of this collection from Netgalley and Baker Publishing for my honest review.
Right now the two big ebook sellers have this collection for under $5. Don't know if those prices are temporary or not, but the stories are certainly worth the price.