Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate (publication date February 1, 2013)
I received a review copy from Bethany House via NetGalley.
Firefly Island is the story of a single thirty-something congressional staffer, Mallory Hale, who in the space of a few short months finds herself married, a stepmother, and living in a rundown ranch house in rural Texas.That alone would be plenty of book fodder, but Mallory soon develops some uneasy suspicions about some of the characters in her new hometown of Moses Lake, and things start to get really interesting.
The book is well-written; I've read one of Lisa Wingate's other books (The Talk of the Town) and I enjoyed it, so I knew going in that she is a talented writer. I tend to be suspicious of Christian books because I've encountered so many painful reads that only got published because somebody assumed that "inspirational" readers aren't too picky about quality. This is not one of those books.
That said, it is pretty didactic when it comes to social-justice issues. I think Wingate was writing with the idea that her readers might be suburban and sheltered like the heroine, so the passages about valuing the poor folk in the hills and letting your kids play with theirs were kind of eye-rolly to me. The Christian message isn't painted too thickly, though I think that there is probably still too much of it to suit most non-Christian readers.
This book could easily have focused on the adjustments Mallory had to make as a new wife and stepmother, and there was a lot of that woven throughout the story, but it wasn't the emphasis of the book. If it had been, I think it would have been a much heavier read. There are definitely some creepy spots and a lot of niggling questions that you want to get answered, so I guess you could call this an "ultra-lite" thriller. It was a quick, enjoyable, engaging read.