cover image Engaging Deception

Engaging Deception

Regina Jennings. Bethany House, $16.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-7642-3536-8

Self-taught architect Olive Kentworth bristles against the sexism of 19th-century Missouri in the winning third entry in Jennings’s Joplin Chronicles series (after Proposing Mischief). Olive longs to be accepted as an architect and pounces on the opportunity to design an expansion on the Blount family’s house, which was originally designed by renowned architect Max Scott. To be taken seriously, she enlists the help of her male cousin and submits her work under his name. Meanwhile, Olive reluctantly agrees to babysit two young children only to learn that they belong to Max, who obliges when Olive picks his brain about his library and work. The stakes escalate after a prominent family hires Max to build them a house larger than the Blounts’, igniting a heated battle to build the biggest home in town. Then Max learns that Olive has been drawing her cousin’s blueprints and she, embarrassed, hides out at her family’s farm until her grandmother counsels her that God wouldn’t have given her a gift for architecture without giving her the courage to use it. Olive’s story of overcoming the biases of her community inspires, and readers will appreciate the message that “God is right there beside you in a hundred different ways.” Series fans will be pleased. (Dec.)