Over the holidays I came across When The Smoke Clears in my bookstore – it looked pretty interesting, so I decided to give Lynette Eason another shot. Good thing I did!
Growing up in a home with an abusive father caused Alexia Allen to have trouble believing that a Heavenly Father can be loving. Kicked out of her childhood home right after completing High-School, she has just as much trouble believing her mother ever loved her at all. Abandoned by her older brother as soon as he was old enough to leave, and losing her beloved sister through suicide, Alexia finds herself truly alone in the world; except for her best friend Serena Hopkins.
Having been accused and believed to be guilty of the arson that left her father and sister disfigured, Alexia aims to heal from the horror of the fire that lead to her sister’s eventual suicide by becoming a smokejumper. Knowing better than most that fire can ruin a life in an instant, Alexia always takes excellent care of the equipment that keeps her safe; so when she nearly dies in a fire due to equipment failure, she knows that something sinister is going on. When Alexia learns through Serena that her mother is seriously ill, and she finds herself suspended pending an investigation, she decides to face all of her demons by going home for her High-School Reunion, and recuperating in her mother's home. Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving back in town Alexia finds herself in the centre of a murder investigation.
When Alexia also realises her mother’s friends and neighbours deeply resent her unforgiving nature, for not staying in contact with her mother, she must furthermore face the possibility that her mother is indeed the changed woman Serena claims she is, and that Alexia may carry some blame herself. Suddenly surrounded by people who encourage Alexia to turn to God, Alexia further embarks on a tentative relationship with a God she doesn’t understand; a God she truly believes is punishing her through the events wreaking havoc with her life. Could she be wrong about this too? More than anything Alexia has always yearned for a loving father; could God possibly be the answer?
Attempts on Alexia’s life complicate matters even further as it seems current events are linked to the mysterious disappearance of her and Serena’s friend, Jillian Carter, and Alexia furthermore becomes the centre of attention of two brothers each intent on protecting her life and vying for her heart. But the conflicts ahead are nothing compared to the ghosts of the past. As Alexia strives to finally accept and forgive her family history, she must also decide if the secret she's been guarding for the last ten years must finally come to light.
Lynette Eason totally redeems herself with this one! Truthfully, comparing it to A Killer Among Us and Too Close To Home, it doesn’t even feel like the same author wrote these books. The detail this time around is accurate and consistent, and the characters are strong and interesting. Eason has a talent for convincingly portraying troubled relationships with God, and its eventual healing. I thoroughly enjoyed every single page. When The Smoke Clears is the first book in the Deadly Reunions series, and I sincerely look forward to reading the next two books, When A Heart Stops and When A Secret Kills.
I am very pleased I tried a new Lynette Eason book. Practice makes perfect, and her writing is becoming stronger and more gripping.
Title: When The Smoke Clears
Author: Lynette Eason
Number of pages: 352