Author: Carole Brown
Published: October 21st, 2013
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Word Count: 90,000
Genre: Women’s Fiction – Christian Suspense, Romance
Content Warning: Contains adult subject matter such as abuse within cults
Recommended Age: 16+
Synopsis: How far would YOU go to avenge the murder of a daughter?
Caralynne Hayman is angry and bitter over the abuse and death of her eleven-year-old daughter from the hands of her religious group, The Children of Righteous Cain. When her husband suffers a sudden heart attack, she does nothing to help him. In her eyes someone needs to pay, and if that means all of the men in the group, then so be it.
Dayne MacFarland is sent away to college by the senior elder of the group to learn ministry. When he returns after finding salvation, determined to bring the truth to the people he’s known all his life, he rediscovers Cara and realizes the love he once felt for her is still deeply embedded within his heart.
Dayne faces men unwilling to turn their backs on the cult training he despises. Cara faces men who follow their leader in abuse toward their wives and the young girls of the group. Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings.
Can Cara overcome the feelings that have governed her most of her life? Can she learn to trust Dayne, and most of all a God whom she sees as uncaring—if he’s really there at all? Only Dayne’s prayers and love can reach Cara and show her the way to redemption, and Cara must recognize and accept God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far.
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When it comes to books, there are very few times I cry, but there were several moments in this one that I came close. With that said, I'll confess that I did shed a few tears as I finished it. The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a book that drew me in to the story from the very first chapter, and I had to keep on going to find out what was going to happen next. From what I understand, this is Carole Brown's debut book. What I can say is, I was extremely impressed, and this book stayed with me for several days after I had finished it.
The main character, Caralynne, is part of a religious cult called The Children of Righteous Cain that keeps to itself. The women aren't treated well at all, and are often abused – whether mentally, physically, or spiritually. Given the background as described in the first few chapters, it becomes quite understandable why she reacts the way she does over the course of the story. I will state that Elder Simmons is a character that I found easy to dislike because of how controlling and power-mad he was. On the other hand, I liked Dayne, the new minister of the group, simply because he saw what was happening for what it was.
Overall, this is a book that, despite the difficult subject, I think Carole handled well and created a story that I thought was well-written and held my attention from beginning to end. For that, I give her a rating of 5/5 platypires.
The midnight air cooled, and Dayne pressed the button to roll up both windows in his car. Cara shivered and snuggled deeper into the plush seat.
“Are you asleep?”
Dayne’s soft whisper rolled over her like a silk blanket. “No. Thinking.”
“A penny for them.”
The urge to share almost overwhelmed her. How wonderful to place some of this depressing burden on Dayne’s wide, strong shoulders. She let the wish—the weakness—drift away.
“Worrying about Abby. Wondering if she’ll be okay.”
“You’re a friend anyone would be glad to have, Cara. I see the caring, loyal, and responsible person you are, the one you show everyone.” Dayne steered around a slower-moving car. “But sometimes I’d like a glimpse of the part you keep hidden.”
The heaviness in her heart lifted, and for a moment, she envisioned herself as a carefree young person experiencing life to the full.
“I don’t know what that would be.” She closed her eyes. “I’m a foolish romantic.”
“A romantic is foolish?”
“Dreaming impossible dreams, wishing for fables, is unrealistic and foolish. I’ve always had a tendency to imagine what could be, what could happen. I suppose because I like beautiful things.” She chuckled. “See the moon and the star-studded sky? Instead of ignoring its beauty, I get the shivers. I wonder if a different world lives in another universe. A colony of people who know only goodness and peace and happiness.”
“I think this side of you is beautiful, and I love it.”
“You don’t love all sides of me?”
“I love—now you’re fishing.” He cleared his throat and his hand slid across the space between them and touched hers. “You’re beautiful.”
Cara pulled her hand from his. Too much danger for her. “Tell me about some of the things you experienced while you were gone. Were your studies hard? Did you like living in the city?”
“In some ways, but I missed the country. When I arrived home, I think I took the first deep breath I’d had in six years.”
“Did you meet many girls?”
She felt his quick glance. Felt the question hover in the air between them. What have I done? He’s not under obligation to answer my nosy questions. And what difference does it make anyhow?
“Do you mean did I date while away?”
At his words, the tension lessened. “You don’t have to answer the question. It’s none of my business.”
But I want to know.
Dayne pulled into her driveway and shut off the car. He slipped his arm on the back of the seat. “When is your meeting?”
Cara blinked but answered, “Tomorrow afternoon.”
“Want me to pick you up?”
“Thanks, but I’ll walk. It’ll give me time to reflect on how to behave while in the presence of such an august figure.” A hand flew up to cover her mouth. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to be so flip.”
“No problem. The fact is I came home carrying a bunch of my own questions.”
“Me. More questions than answers.”
“How do we find the answers, Dayne? You graduated with honors in ministry, so if you don’t know the answers, how is someone like me who’s uneducated supposed to get answers?”
He gripped her hand again as if he would never let go. She heard his long drawn intake of breath.
“What would you have done if you’d had the chance to choose something else?”
“Are you serious? I’ve never taken time to think about could-be’s and would-be’s. As I said, there’s not much sense in wishing for what will never happen.”
“But if you could have …”
“I don’t know. I’d mountain climb. Probably fly. Own my own private plane. Do rescue work.”
“What else?” His interest spurred her on. How long had it been since she’d had someone to share nonsense with?
“I’d learn to parachute and hang glide for fun and anything else to get me off the ground and into the air.”
“You crazy girl. Mind if I join you?”
Cara rested her head against the back of the seat.
His hand stirred beside her.
“I am crazy, aren’t I?”
He slipped his arm around her and tugged lightly until she gave in and rested her head on his shoulder.
“You know it’s not too late to experience your dreams.”
“What do you mean? Elder Simmons would never allow me to do that.”
A pause. Dayne stroked her hand with one finger. “Do it anyway.”
“Don’t encourage me, Dayne. Please. You don’t know—” With a sob, she straightened and flung open the door.
Dayne ran from his side of the car and grabbed her shoulders. “Cara. Cara, don’t cry. I’m doing my best to work on the elders. Trust me.” He cupped her chin, tilted it, and stared into her eyes.
She gave a shaky nod. “I do.”
With a thumb he wiped away the tears from her cheeks. “I wish—”
“What do you wish?” Cara held her breath.
He took her shoulders for a moment, his grip tight, and then let his hands drop. “Nothing. Go on.”
She moved as if in a daze toward the lighted porch. She’d barely reached the steps when Dayne’s voice stopped her again.
She stopped moving, her back still toward him.
“You asked me if I met any girls while away. I did. Several. But every time I tried to get romantic or think about girlfriends, all I could see were the beautiful blue-green eyes of someone back home. A very effective deterrent for romance.”
Was she hearing him correctly? Interpreting his words the way he meant them? Her body warmed, the frozenness melting as surely as if the sun was ridding the earth of a winter avalanche. Slowly she turned.
He lifted a hand and returned to his car.
She stared after him, depression gone.
About the Author:
Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?
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