Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Elizabeth White's On Wings of Deliverance ~ Reviewed

On Wings of Deliverance
By Elizabeth White
Published by Steeple Hill
ISBN: 0373873603

"To make up for her sordid teen years, Bernadette Malone has spent her adult life in service to God. But her past has finally caught up with her: three young women—friends from her former life—had taken the truth about that past to their premature graves, and Bernadette was next on the hit list. Border patrol agent Owen Carmichael knew all about the dark side of life. And he couldn't turn down his friend when she came to him for help. Owen would protect Bernadette with his life. But her powerful enemy was prepared to kill again to prevent the revelation of his scandalous actions."

A delightful find, White’s romantic suspense novel hits the ground running and never slows up. Border patrol pilot Owen Carmichael is on the beach in Mexico, preparing his plane for return to the United States, when his missionary friend Benny (Bernadette) Malone suddenly appears, running for the plane and screaming that they have to take off immediately. Bewildered, Owen protests until he sees who is behind her; a man who is firing at them with a semi-automatic weapon. Now convinced, Owen jumps in and they take off, but not without the plane’s being damaged. They end up crashing not long afterward on a farm.

Owen and Benny are uninjured but now face the prospect of getting back to the United States without the gunman finding them and finishing the job. Even worse for Owen, he has no idea who he’s running from or why. Benny knows but doesn’t seem willing to share much information. She will only tell Owen that her present predicament is related to something that happened in her past. She is intent not just on escaping from the hit man, but on getting to Memphis to put things right.

Owen is a confident young man, sometimes bordering on cocky, and he’s sure he can get them back to the States safely. At times he even seems happy of the opportunity to prove himself to Benny by protecting her, since he has secretly been in love with her for some time. My one qualm with the book comes when Owen makes a call back to the States to his brother, who offers to fly down and pick them up. Owen turns down the offer and says he can handle the situation. I found it hard to believe anyone would drag himself and his beloved through a foreign country with a hit man hot on their heels when they could have been safely home in a few hours. But perhaps the author intended us to shake our heads at this point and realize that Owen, though loveable and strong, is in many ways young and innocent. Benny, on the other hand, lost her innocence at an early age and has been through things that Owen cannot imagine.

This tension between Owen’s love of Benny as the beautiful, pure missionary woman that he idolizes and Benny’s desire to suppress the truth about her shameful past is the heart of the story. The two characters are both believable and sympathetic in their struggles to come to terms with Benny’s past, defeat the evil man who once ruled her life, and find love. Even with such a serious theme, the book is full of humor and witty dialogue, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. I highly recommend On Wings of Deliverance. Moreover, the book (though perfectly enjoyable on its own) is part of a Love Inspired Suspense series called The Texas Gatekeepers. This is the first of that line I have read, but I intend to read more of White's novels in this series.

Reviewed by Robin Johns Grant

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