Crossing Oceans Gina Holmes. Tyndale House, $13.99 paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-4143-3305-2

Jenny Lucas has returned to her childhood home, a refuge of picket fences and lace-covered tabletops. But with an intensity likely garnered from years of unpublished suspense writing, debut novelist and blogger Holmes slowly unveils the hidden angst in this homecoming. A single mother, Jenny must find caregivers who will raise her five-year-old daughter when she’s gone. She’s forced to mend relations with two possible custodians: the baby’s father, who doesn’t know he has a child, and her own cold-hearted father. As Jenny comes to face her future as well as her past, dramatic emotions yield to an appreciation of life and an enjoyment of the grace of fleeting moments. There can be no happy ending, but Holmes ties a neat bow of acceptance around this haunting tale that packs an emotional wallop. Keep tissues near. (May)

The Last Christian David Gregory. WaterBrook, $19.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4000-7497-6

The hit sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica meets the New Testament in the new novel by Gregory (Dinner with a Perfect Stranger). In the year 2088, Christian missionary Abigail Caldwell leaves her New Guinea village to seek help for fellow villagers, who have all been stricken by a mysterious disease. A message from her grandfather, an American neuroscientist who is the co-inventor of a silicon brain replacement, draws her to America, where religion has died out. Abby joins forces with a historian who has a connection to Abby’s family as they investigate the death of her grandfather and face the spiritual implications of “transhumanity”—humans with replacement silicon brains that promise eternal life but make impossible personal connection with God. The plotting is intricate and imaginative, and the religious elements go beyond formula, though the political intrigue plot thread is less convincing. Gregory’s approach is fresh, and he’s produced a page-turner. (May)

Drift Sharon Carter Rogers. Howard, $13.99 paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4165-6653-3

Christian allegory, meet DC Comics. Hooray for this imaginative novel from an evangelical Christian publisher that is over the edge and most definitely outside the box. Rogers (Unpretty) offers a noirish, Sin City—style tale of a “drifter,” an angelic-type being who becomes “tethered” to a human, the only person who can see him. A drifter called Boy becomes tethered to a young woman known as Baby Doll as she attends the funeral of her stepfather, Charlie Murphy, an organized crime boss whose death triggers an underworld struggle for power. Baby Doll and Boy have backstories, naturally, slowly revealed as their relationship develops. Throw in some Latin (Baby Doll is a college student) and epigraphs from a fictitious classical philosopher named Solace the Lesser; the result is a dark, engrossing, cinematic story. (Apr.)

To Darkness Fled Jill Williamson. Marcher Lord Press (Ingram, dist.), $17.99 paper (664p) ISBN 978-0-9825987-0-2

Christian fantasy is the wee niche in which this fat book fits, and here’s hoping its quality helps enlarge the niche. Williamson pens an action-packed, imaginative second installment in the Blood of Kings trilogy. Achan Chan, a prince who was switched at birth, rides with a party in Darkness, the unlit half of the Kingdom of Er’Rets, to free two unjustly imprisoned knights. His party includes Vrell Sparrow, who is Lady Averella Amal disguised as a young boy to flee an unwanted marriage to Esek, who has usurped the identity of Prince Gidon Hadar. All the familiar epic elements and emotions are freshly rendered, with Vrell and Achan especially memorable as they grow during their journey. The Christian elements are not subtle, especially Achan’s dramatically unnecessary chat with Câan, son of the one god Arman. Overall, though, the pace gallops along, leaving readers hungry for the concluding book. (Apr.)

She Walks in Beauty Siri Mitchell. Bethany House, $14.99 paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-7642-0433-3

Mitchell (Love’s Pursuit) sets her newest historical in Gilded Age New York, an opulent time and place when marrow spoons and exceedingly tight corsets were in vogue among the moneyed. The motherless Clara Carter is making her debut in society, and her aunt and her physician father expect her to win the hand of Franklin DeVries, the wealthiest catch of the season. Clara’s best friend Lizzie is also aiming for DeVries, and Clara is caught between duty, friendship, and her own desires, which tend more toward Byron’s poetry than bombazine hats. Mitchell’s story is well researched, with fascinating details, and Clara is a complex character. The plot machinery creaks loudly at points: three overheard conversations is at least one too many. A social consciousness plot thread dealing with New York’s slums is weak. But those who love historicals can have their fill as well as any debutante supping on oysters and clutching her filled dance card; Mitchell delivers the historical goods. (Apr.)