Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: ECHOES OF TITANIC by Mindy Starns Clark and John Campbell Clark

When Mindy Starns Clark decided to write a novel about the Titanic disaster, she didn't have to look very far to find a willing accomplice: a Titanic history buff sat right across the breakfast table. Her first (fictional) collaboration with husband John Campbell Clark,Echoes of Titanic, is a romantic, suspenseful and elegant mystery released just in time to commemorate the 100th anniversary of that fateful voyage.


It's no surprise that Kelsey Tate is the brightest rising star at Brennan & Tate – after all, it was her great-grandmother Adele, a Titanic survivor, who helped to build Brennan & Tate into the financial powerhouse it is today.

Adele Tate lost two precious loved ones the day Titanic sank, but she overcame great loss and worked hard to become a successful and respected force in the world of finance. Now 100 years after that tragedy, Adele is gone … but questions about her true identity arise. Was Kelsey's great-grandmother really Adele Tate -- or an impostor? And if she was an impostor … who really owns the company?

Accusations fly with no clear answers. The company's value plummets and, in the best interest of the stockholders, Kelsey is asked to distance herself – and the Tate name – from the company for a while. Reluctantly, she complies … mostly; but when her mentor is found dead -- and another firm mounts a hostile takeover attempt, Kelsey knows she is responsible for salvaging her family's company and name. But who can she trust?

Kelsey finally seeks help from a most uncomfortable source: Cole Thornton. Once upon a time Kelsey and Cole were in love, but her drive for success drove him away from Brennan & Tate – and Kelsey. She hasn't seen him in five years, but she can't refuse his offer to help – he's all she's got left.

Cole is a genius with numbers and, even though his new company's employees are a bit unconventional, Kelsey is bound and determined to save her family's company and Adele's reputation -- even if it means wearing a wire and sneaking into Brennan & Tate after hours. But someone always seems to be one step ahead of Kelsey and Cole. Soon it becomes clear that she may not only lose her company, but also her last chance with Cole … and maybe even her life.


The Clarks deserve props for skillful characterization. Every single person on scene is visible, clearly voiced, and unique. The Tate family dynamics are especially entertaining even when they make you want to cry. The subtle, bittersweet humor that flows between Kelsey and her stroke-debilitated father gives credence to their closeness and their shared frustration with his infirmity.

This suspenseful mystery is both romantic and faith affirming, but at no point does it stoop to being either "sweet" or "preachy." Even though the story moves between diary entries, years, and character points of view there is not a single hiccup in the reader's suspension of disbelief. Whether on board Titanic with Adele or in the New York financial district with Kelsey, the authors paint a vivid scene that puts the reader right therewithin that moment in time. Each scene grows the tension across the centuries and enriches the plot's mystery, the settings' believability and the characters' viability within imagination.

Readers of both inspirational and mainstream fiction will find this to be a fitting novel to read in conjunction with the anniversary of the Titanic tragedy. As the title implies, this is a story that resonates. Rich with history, rife with corporate intrigue and full of hope, Echoes of Titanic is a timely tale that will appeal to fans of contemporary and historical romance, romantic suspense, and mystery.

(This review first appeared on USA Today's romance fiction blog, Happy Ever After)


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