The Secrets of the Montebellis

The Secrets of the Montebellis

 As an author and a reviewer, I was hesitant to read a Christian Romance novel, as I prefer to stay in the more realistic non-fiction category. Usually a genre called, “Inspired Fiction” seems to lack originality and the indefinable “je ne sais quoi” punch that comes from a richly endowed imagination. But I was pleasantly surprised by Cheryl Colwell’s debut novel, “The Secrets of the Montebellis”.

Cheryl  has painted an immense canvas of family triangles, mystery, romance and historical intrigue, in a realistic setting somewhere in Oregon. Her characters are very true to type, their dialogue meaningful and on point, and their settings well drawn. In fact, I am in awe of the writer’s ability to give us such rich and intricate details of a family’s history.  It begs the question of whether she did intense research or this was purely born from her imagination. For that ability alone I would give her five stars. It caused me to overlook some rare grammar glitches or clichés that cropped up. (I am after all an English teacher.)

The heroine Lisa gracefully endures an abusive marriage because of her strong faith, and the vision she secretly nurtures in her heart. She longs to be recognized as a person who has something to say and who has something to give back to her community. Her own family history is connected to a mysterious mountain of fire opals, and the reader is slowly drawn into her daring plan to revive a long-forgotten township. The hero is a kind reporter named Stephen Taylor, who provides support and understanding for her struggle.

There are two love stories that are sweetly entwined between Lisa and Stephen and their children. The plot spirals like a labyrinth, with endless chambers to explore, and the quest for buried treasure comes to a delicious conclusion. Cheryl is indeed a gifted storyteller. And this is only Volume One of  what promises to be a great saga.

“The publisher has provided me with free copy of the book from BookCrash in exchange for an honest review.”