Hide in Plain Sight

Hide In Plain Sight, by Marta Perry, is a Harlequin in the Love Inspired Suspense line. It was published August 2012 and it is currently available as a free ebook. As the line title suggests, these stories combine Christian Romance elements (non-denominational faith practiced; no drugs, alcohol, gambling, swearing, or premarital sex) with a threat of some sort. Characters “face challenges to their faith and their lives.”

I’m not religious myself, but the religious element in Christian romances is inoffensive. Characters pray, particularly in difficult situations, thank God when things work out, and sometimes go to church, but religion does not dominate the story they way it does in Christian films. As for the various vices being omitted, I manage to live without most of them, so it doesn’t bother me that the characters are quite pure. If I have to choose between too much sex in a romance, and too little, I’d take too little – I’m here for the love story. Of course my first choice would be to have just the right amount. These lovers seem to totally lack bodily passion, and I’m not even sure they are anatomically correct.

Opening day is approaching for The Three Sisters Inn, a Bed and Breakfast set up to try and keep a grand old home in the family. Andrea Hampton is one of the three sisters, who rushed home to Churchville (okay, the village name is too precious) from her finance job in the big city for a family emergency, and keeps delaying her return. Someone is bent on stopping the Inn from opening, there’s a mysterious handsome carpenter in the barn, and her childhood home holds several dark secrets.

There’s a lot going on here, including laying the groundwork for sequels for the other sisters. The good news is there is no shortage of hooks to propel the story, and no reaching to find obstacles in the romantic relationship. This is a fast moving and entertaining tale. The bad news is that with so much going on, the romance almost seems secondary, and grows out repeated rescues of Andrea by the carpenter tenant. At least she does not give up her career when she finds love. By the way, the title makes no sense, unless it is meant to be a red herring.

Some reviewers praise the clean nature of these stories. The romance is chaste, and the suspense elements evoke nostalgic recollections of Nancy Drew mysteries. That’s the happy target market. I like a little more meat in my romances, but there’s a lot to admire in the plotting and structure of this story.