Beverly Lewis, Author, David Lewis, Joint Author . Bethany House $15.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7642-2511-6 ISBN 0-7642-2510-3

Popular Christian author Lewis and her husband collaborate here for the first time, refreshing Lewis's trademark style with a welcome edge of suspense. Protagonist Melissa James has a secret that has become the underlying dread that defines her life. An unexpected glimpse into her past causes her to flee her expensive home and pen a farewell note to her husband, Ryan: "Please trust me... don't look for me.... " What Melissa doesn't know is that Ryan, an investment manager, has made disastrous choices that could cost them their marriage. One of the keys to unlocking their elaborate facades lies in Melissa remembering the "language" of flowers she learned from her father. Although the Lewises craft some beautiful settings and show more restraint in the use of dialect here than in former titles, the pace is often slowed by overly descriptive passages and italicized text (a single page has 22 italicized words). Some scenes don't ring true, including one of spiritual warfare and another of a high school romance turned sour. It is also contrived that Lela, a Pennsylvania Dutch "Plain" woman, feels led to pray about opening her home to someone in need just as Melissa stumbles down a Lancaster road looking for a place to stay. However, the Lewises throw in some artful plot twists and adeptly avoid the trap of a fairy tale ending. The final choices made by Ryan and Melissa will satisfy Beverly Lewis's devoted readership, as will the salvation message that holds the story together. (June)

Forecast:Lewis's novels have sold more than 1.5 million copies combined, and her faithful readers will be more than content with this latest offering.

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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