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Halos    by Kristen Heitzmann order for
by Kristen Heitzmann
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2004 (2004)
*   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Alessi Moore's life has been difficult. Her parents, estranged from their extended families, both died when Alessi was fairly young. Alessi was sent to live with a wealthy aunt and uncle until she turned 18. On her eighteenth birthday, after being presented with a new Mustang convertible, she's shown the door. She lives life on the road, moving from place to place where she can find work. Three years later, Alessi is still on the move, when she stops for gas in the small town of Charity during a snowstorm.

Alessi looks up into the sky, and sees a halo reflected in light and snow. All of her life, halos have meant something good and hopeful, so she thinks maybe Charity is the place she is meant to stay. But while she is in paying for her gas, her car, loaded with everything she owns, is stolen. The two men who run the establishment, Ben and Dave, invite her to stay in their spare room until the police can locate the car, but the town sheriff doesn't seem hopeful that he can find the Mustang, and advises her to be on her way.

Stuck without money, possessions, or a car, Alessi tries to remain positive. She meets Ben and Dave's third roommate, Steve, who seems skeptical of her story. He thinks Alessi is just there to con the men, and the town, out of money. Against his better judgment, he gives her a job in his bookstore and grudgingly helps her look for her car, which he doesn't even believe exists. The people of the town are guarded and don't want to help. Is something terribly wrong in Charity?

Kristen Heitzmann has been a hit-or-miss author with me. Some of her books I love - last October's The Still of Night is fabulous, with a great plot and a beautiful faith message. Halos, on the other hand, is one of my misses. While the storyline is initially intriguing, the plot doesn't have enough meat for over 300 pages. The beginning and the end are rich in action, but the middle is the same thing over and over. Alessi is looking for her car. The people of the town don't believe her and won't help her for some reason. Repeat story again and again. And when the reason is finally revealed, it's not all that astonishing.

Unlike some of the author's other novels, the faith message in Halos is subtle, speaking mostly of God's grace in intervening to provide miracles and hope. There is some romance, but even that felt forced to me - for Steve to move from utter disdain and thinking Alessi a con artist, to a marriage proposal in a three week period strained credibility. However, though not at the level of the author's better offerings, Halos will probably satisfy readers who enjoy gentle romantic suspense.

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