Friday, May 18, 2018

Review of the Waldensian Series by Donna Wichelman with Giveaways

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Light Out of Darkness
(The Waldensian Series #1)
By Donna Wichelman
Romantic Suspense
Paperback & ebook, 320 pages
April 2nd 2018 by Soujourner's Press

A prestigious art exhibition turns into a horrific spectacle when a murder sends an art curator and a professor on a hunt for a highly coveted stolen painting.

Escaping a painful past in Cleveland, Ohio, Jamie Holbrooke flees to Milan, Italy as an art curator. But her past follows her during an evening stroll along Varenna’s shoreline walk when an assailant, who looks like her dead brother, presses a mysterious riddle into her hand. Still reeling from shock the next day, she discovers her long-time paragon, Dr. Alessandro Marianni, may have a link to the enigmatic riddle. Before she can discover the answers, their colleague falls prey to an assassin’s bullet. Convinced the riddle and murder are connected, Jamie and Alessandro risk their lives to uncover why an obscure painting has caught the attention of art critics and criminals alike. At stake is a two-thousand–year-old drama, unfolding in the contemporary world of the Northern Italian Alps.

Will Jamie and Alessandro stop powerful organized crime figures before the painting is lost forever and with it a secret more valuable than the prized artwork? Will Jamie find the answers to help her reclaim her life again? She will need the courage to face her fears and the persevering faith of Dr. Alessandro Marianni to heal her wounded heart.

**My thoughts**
Any story that takes place in Italy is going to grab my attention. Add to that numerous references back to Cleveland, which was one of my favorite places to visit when I lived in Ohio, and the setting has completely grabbed my attention.

This story was a more unique one in the realm of romantic suspense. Yes, you had the art heist and battles between the Mafia and other underworld groups from other countries. I think this is the first time I have a read a thriller involving Albanians. But there is also a strong religious aspect with the history of the Waldensians. The book itself does more justice to explaining it than I can. But in a nutshell, they are an early form of the Protestant Christian movement that was one of the first to break away from Catholicism. They believed essentially in poverty, as riches were not necessary to a happy life. They believed in taking care of their fellow man. And some followers still practice these beliefs today, right in the area where the book takes place. 

I always find this kind of history quite interesting. And then you add into it the intrigue of the painting heist. In some ways, this crazy underworld slamming into such a strong faith-based world doesn't seem like it should make sense, but it adds for interesting twists to the story.

There are a lot of people to keep track of. Where did they come from? What is their nationality? Where do their loyalties lie? And in any good heist novel, those loyalties keep on shifting, keeping you guessing as to whom you should trust. 

Another interesting aspect to this novel is how it is more than just a search for a lost painting. Jamie also has lost her faith, following the accidental death of her brother, for which she blames herself. With the help of her new friend Alessandro, she stands a good chance of finding it again, just as they hope to find the painting. 

Undaunted Valor
(The Waldensian Series #2)
By Donna Wichelman
Romantic Suspense
Paperback & ebook, 281 pages
April 4th 2018 by Sojourner's Press

For nature lovers, ski aficionados, travel enthusiasts and history scholars, the French Alps offer some of the most spectacular scenery and outdoor recreation in all Europe with its majestic mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, unspoiled forests and quaint mountain villages. People come to get away from the daily grind and rejuvenate their spirits.

But when Alessandro Marianni’s grandmother Luciana is kidnapped during a church conference in Chamonix, the same landscape becomes an ominous height to scale, and Jamie Holbrooke and her fiancé Alessandro have difficulty distinguishing between friend and foe on the race to find her. They will have to weather a rainstorm on a mountain trail, negotiate a dangerous waterfall, outmaneuver a car chase, and defy an assassin’s gun in their search.

Will they find their beloved Luciana before it’s too late? Who will die on the way to the finish line? Who can they trust? And where will Jamie find the courage to confront her adversaries?

In this sequel to Light Out of Darkness, the answers will lie in unanticipated places and with unexpected allies and require Jamie to discover what it means to trust God with Undaunted Valor.

**My thoughts**
This story brings back one of my favorite characters from the first book. Luciana stole my heart in the first book, though she didn't feature so prominently in it. I admire her feisty spirit and love for life. I hate that she has been kidnapped, but I love being able to read through her thought processes.

And again, the setting is a good one. I adore the area around the French Alps. It's just majestic and a place that everyone should aspire to visit at least once in their life. 

I like this book better than the first one. It just seemed to flow better. I think it helped that there were fewer interruptions with characters speaking in their native languages. I understand the point of doing it, but it almost made the first book take longer. I also had fewer players to keep track of. And again, I adore Luciana. Plus my antique book geek side loved the secret Jamie finds in her grandmother's trunk.

About the Author

Donna Wichelman was a communications professional before writing full-time. She has authored short stories, essays and articles in various inspirational publications and lives her dream writing novels and screenplays. She and her husband work with teens at their local church in Fort Collins, Colorado. They travel, bike and kayak whenever their schedules allows.

Tour Giveaway

1st Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card, Copy of the LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS (signed print copy to US winner, ebook to international winner) + 4 oz. Tea of your choice from the Tea Source or 1 LB of Coffee from DazBog Coffee (will Add $10 to Gift Card for international gift in lieu of tea or coffee)

2nd Prize: $15 Amazon Gift Card + Copy of LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS (signed print copy to US winner, ebook to international winner)

3rd Prize: Copy of LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS (signed print copy to US winner, ebook to international winner)

Ends May 23rd

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