Thursday, March 7, 2013

"the return of cassandra todd" by darrel nelson

About the book (from the back cover): Turner Caldwell works at a local motel as a handyman while attending college full-time. On his way to class one day, he is shocked to see Cassandra Todd and her young son in town. The sight of her brings back powerful memories of being bullied in high school-she was the popular head cheerleader and he the target of her friends' mean-spirited pranks.

When Cassandra and her son check into the motel where he works and she asks for his help in eluding her abusive husband, he finds himself entangled in a dangerous drama that will require him to forgive and draw on every skill he has if they are to survive.

My take: The Return of Cassandra Todd deals with a topic that is far too common in real life yet rarely discussed in Christian fiction: spousal abuse. Also, to a lesser degree, the book deals with bullying. Both topics are timely, and I felt that author Darrel Nelson handled these delicate subjects expertly.

As I read the book, I began to get a bit uncomfortable as I could tell that Cassandra, still a married woman, and Turner were falling for each other. I wondered how Nelson would deal with that moral dilemma. In the end, he took the expected route (though not in the way I anticipated). It was an emotionally satisfying conclusion, but I would really have liked to see the characters wrestle more with right and wrong in light of Cassandra's marital status.

One thing I loved about this book was that it was quite unpredictable. I was never quite sure what would happen to Turner and Cassandra next, and the conflict was resolved in a way I didn't see coming. However, at times I felt like I was reading the script to a Lifetime movie—it was entertaining, it was suspenseful, but it wasn't always completely plausible. (If this book was made into a Lifetime movie, I would totally watch it! I guess I like my books to be a bit more realistic than my movies ...) I also wasn't a fan of all of the point of view shifts—when Nelson was writing from Turner's point of view, it was completely believable, but he didn't bring that same credibility to the sections written from Cassandra's perspective.

All told, I did like The Return of Cassandra Todd. It won't make my "Best Books of 2013" list, but I enjoyed the time spent reading it. 3 out of 5 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my review of Nelson's debut novel, The Anniversary Waltz. 

About the author: Darrel Nelson recently retired after thirty-seven years as a schoolteacher so he could devote himself to writing full-time. He now spends his time writing novels, articles, plays, and music and soaking up time with his ten grandchildren. Nelson has bachelor's degrees in English and education from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, where he lives with his wife Marsha.

The Return of Cassandra Todd follows Nelson's highly praised debut The Anniversary Waltz.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Glass Road Media & Management. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the  Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

1 comment:

  1. Becky, thank you for the review. Hopefully, my novel will be made into a movie someday. Thanks for taking the time to read and review the book. I hope you'll have a chance to review my future novel, Following Rain.


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