When I first decided to tackle this review, I’ll admit to some apprehension. Most of the books I’ve reviewed have been fantasy, though a couple of erotica books worked their way into the mix. This is the first time that I chose a Christian novel to read and I came into it with my own prejudices and misconceptions against the genre in general. Most of the books I personally like involve the clergy, Morris West and his novels revolving around the papacy come to mind, but they are hardly Christian novels.
So I began to read and I tried find an angle of attack. How should I rate it? Do I compare it to some other books I’ve read? Do I rate it according to my own prejudices? All my fears and questions were quickly rendered mute by the novelist. I’ll be honest as I always am, and present as fair an assessment as my abilities allow.
The Protected is the debut novel from Brooke-Lauren Montgomery. I met Brooke a couple of years ago, in the fairness of complete disclosure, when I went back to finish up my college degree. We took two classes together, Advanced Grammar and Creative Writing: Nonfiction. I remember her stating that she had a book coming out and when I ran into her a few months ago, I asked her and I offered her to review the book. I’m breaking my own rule of reviewing the works of people I know, but I don’t really know her, so I guess I’m good.
The Protected follows the journey of Maryanne Gilmon, a college student who’s involved with a handsome and charismatic young man named Darren. Not much is known about Darren, but he’s a risk-taker and seems to have ample financial resources.The story is a progression from being away from God to her discovering and finally accepting God’s grace.
In her way are the usual temptations of the world, but none more persistent and aggressive as her boyfriend. An her side is the supernatural intervention of a young man she knows simply as Nememiah, a man who’s only the physical incarnation of her own guardian angel.
The more she tries to grow closer to God, the more Darren stands in her way, becoming a possessive and abusive, both mentally and emotionally. Darren is the embodiment of that which seeks to strip humanity away from the Lord, using whatever is at his disposal to do so. He threatens and sweet talks Maryanne, trying to lead her down a darker path, promising to stop at nothing, even destroying all her loved ones, in his mission to win her over. Is Maryanne’s new found faith strong enough to endure the trial she’s facing?
Brooke wrote a powerful book with serious themes. This isn’t the struggle of growing up in a world full of temptations but rather a book with serious consequences, of fighting against demonic powers in order to find salvation. At stake is either an eternity of grace and love, or eternal damnation.
I found myself being drawn into the story in spite of my reservations. I’m not an evangelical, I’m very private with my faith, a life-long Catholic, and I find casual conversation of God and Jesus to be distasteful. Brooke, in her novel, has no such qualms. This is a personal testimony of searching for and finding God’s grace, than in spite of all the Devil tries to do, God’s love is more powerful, and He will defeat the evil one. One must only have faith enough in Him to see the triumph.
Once I allowed myself to accept the book for what it was, was I able to begin to enjoy the story. It’s high drama, suspense, with more at stake than a person’s life. Truly, I felt fear and elation, and a peace when Maryanne chose to be born again. The author disabused me of my prejudices of the genre, that though it may not be for everybody, there are powerful stories to tell.
All in all, I decided to rate The Protected a full five out of five stars. It’s a very well-told story and I’m eager to see what else Brooke has in store for us. You can find the paperback version on Amazon or if you prefer an e-book, you can buy it directly from the publisher, Tate Publishing.