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(This review first appeared on Suspense Sisters Reviews on February 23, 2015.)

The old familiar fear returned with a vengeance, along with the musty smell of neglect and the sweet scent of sweat. 

How’s that for an opening paragraph? 

Deadly Echoes is the second book in Nancy Mehl’s latest series Finding Sanctuary.

Sarah Miller and her sister Hannah lived through the tragedy of their parents’ murders. Now, Hannah is dead and Sarah receives guardianship of her niece. For Sarah, too many similarities exist between the deaths of her sister and her parents, and she wonders if she’ll be next. 

Together with Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason, Sarah seeks to prove her sister did not die at the hands of a drug-addicted robber. At the same time, she becomes the guardian of her ten-year-old niece and must deal with the difficulties presented by a grieving, sometimes hostile, child. 

Deadly Echoes is the second book in Nancy Mehl’s Finding Sanctuary series. Ms. Mehl’s novels are never as heavy on the romance as most fiction labeled romantic suspense, although you’ll find one in each story. For me, the strength of her books lies in her characters, including the setting. 

A variety of personalities people the small town of Sanctuary. Many are Mennonite—some Old Order. Others move there looking for a place to take shelter from their former lives. In reading, one gets a sense of the close-knit and faith-filled community while the story revolves around an invading evil. 

This novel opens with a great hook—Sarah as a child hiding from her parents’ killers. 

As an orphan, Sarah grew up in foster homes, separated from her sister. She doesn’t see herself as appealing, especially to Paul. Here’s an example of the way she thinks: 

Hannah was the golden child. Smart, beautiful, ambitious, and full of life. I’d lived in her shadow when we were children, and even now, her own daughter recognized her mother’s value over mine. 

For the most part, there are no real surprises with regard to the climax. I suspected who was responsible pretty much right away. Twists come through backstory and a secondary character. Overall, I found the novel an intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable read. 

And … I doubt I’ll look at a white orchid again without remembering Sarah.

As I said, Nancy Mehl’s books are not heavy on the romance, though it’s there. In a romantic suspense, do you prefer more or less emphasis on the romance (CLEAN romance)?

Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the publisher, Bethany House, with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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