Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale

4.5 Star

Nine years ago, Lauren Matthews prosecuted the case of a lifetime. But her error in judgment sent an innocent man to prison for a long time. Now Arlen Fieldstone has finally been released, and Lauren has only one thing on her mind: asking forgiveness. How can she make up for nine years of his life? 

To get to Arlen, Lauren must first get through Arlen's best friend, Will Farris. Will hasn't forgotten Lauren from those days, and he hasn't forgiven her for destroying his best friend's life. He is Arlen's keeper, protecting him from suspicious neighbors as well as from Lauren. 

In the steaming summer streets of Richmond, Virginia, three people's lives collide. Lauren needs forgiveness. Arlen needs hope. And Will? He needs something too, something that no one can know-especially not Lauren...

Lydia - 4.5 Star
I really enjoyed A Promise of Safekeeping which explores wrongful incarceration, the effects on all involved and who is to blame. Is anyone? Everyone? Just one person? Or the system? The prosecution?  A weak defense?  The jury?  And what about personal guilt involved? Everyone has a different opinion A Promise of Safekeeping, including the wrongfully accused, his loved ones, and especially the woman responsible for his imprisonment.
Lauren’s guilt sets the novel in motion with her quest to apologize to Arlen whose wrongful incarceration made her career. The short time she intends to take off work to apologize becomes a much longer affair as Arlen refuses to see her, and the longer he avoids her, the more she avoids work. She finds herself spending time with Arlen’s best friend Will trying to gain favour with the man who watched hatefully as Lauren put Arlen behind bars and who took him in years later after his release. The longer she stays the more she begins to question everything including her unexpected attraction to Will.
Lauren’s struggles felt real and I immediately related to her character who was just trying to do what she felt was right, regardless of what everyone else wanted her to do. The connection between Lauren and Will was palpable and unavoidable and their hesitation understanding. How Will’s initial misjudgment of Lauren’s character gradually crumbles held my attention as did Lauren’s ability to read people’s faces and body language. How would having that ability have impacted my life if I had it?  Would I have been just as bamboozled in love by untruths? This novel inspires some interesting questions.
Arlen’s release into the world after incarceration for nine years was fascinating. His inability to step outside was understandable and his initial observations were eye opening. I thought often to how many things have changed in the last nine years that one would be completely ignorant of and how each decade there are enormous changes that without exposure to would lead to complete incomprehension.
The subtleties to this novel were outstanding. For the most part we mostly bob along at a gentle pace like down a meandering stream, but its one that you know could turn into a ranging river at any time.  The undercurrent of danger lurked throughout the entire novel and it was so subtle, but had enough effect to keep me on the edge of my seat wondering if anything would happen to Lauren, whether Arlen would turn violent or what explosions would occur should Lauren and Arlen ever meet again.
Unfortunately the quick ending though left me surprised and a little confused, specifically regarding the last few pages. After all the emotion and suspense I wanted more from the ending and ultimately came away a little disappointed. 

I will definitely read more from Lisa Dale!

Thank you to Penguin USA, Berkley Trade for our review copy!

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