Having read A Family Saga in Bear Lake Valley, a series of five novels by Linda Weaver Clarke, I felt fortunate to receive two of her new books to review. They are a departure for the author, whose previous books are historical romances (although the new books also include a healthy dose of romance). Published in 2010, both Anasazi Intrigue and Mayan Intrigue are set in present times, complete with busy schedules and cell phones, and tell the story of John and Julia Evans (John is the grandson of one of the characters in the last book of the family saga series). Author Linda Weaver Clarke draws from her own experiences as well as from extensive research in her newest books, which are mystery novels with a central theme: archaeological theft. I don't want to spoil the plots or mysteries from either book, so my reviews below are brief introductions to Linda's latest novels.
"She was a reporter and was supposed to write about the tragedy, but this was personal. Her valley and her friends' homes were being ripped apart. The destruction below wrenched at Julia's heart."Anasazi Intrigue is the first novel in this series, which begins with a devastating flood that leads Julia, a reporter, to try to solve the case of the poisoned fish and cats. Soon after she starts to investigate, Julia and her husband, John, find themselves in danger, because Julia is "too observant", and the mystery unfolds. The disaster portrayed in the opening of the book is based on the actual Santa Clara/Virgin River flood of 2005 in southern Utah. The author weaves in many fascinating tidbits about the Anasazi Indians and their dwellings, which make the book an interesting page-turner.
~Anasazi Intrigue, Linda Weaver Clarke
"Instinctively, she knew that her life was in danger. Why, she did not know."Eager for more adventures with the Evans, I started to read Mayan Intrigue as soon as I had finished the first novel. In this book, John and Julia venture to the Yucatan Peninsula to take a relaxing vacation and nurture their marriage, which has suffered as a result of John's neglect (due to his work as a knife maker). Julia is also on assignment for the newspaper while in Mexico, and the couple is joined by their bachelor friend, Paul, a dedicated archaeologist. What starts out as a romantic trip quickly turns into a dangerous adventure among the Mayan ruins and jungles, and the vacationers are on the run from thieves--and wild animals! Excitement prevails, and this book is full of mystery and suspense.
~Mayan Intrigue, Linda Weaver Clarke
Linda's writing is lively and down-to-earth; she has the ability to make you feel as if you're in these stories, along with John and Julia, trying to decipher the truth and escape from harm. Before reading these novels, I didn't know much about archaeological thievery, although I was introduced to artifact theft when I interviewed Linda this past April (please read the interview for more details).
When the third book in this series is published, Montezuma Intrigue, I hope to read it as well, because there are many things I like about these books, including the vivid writing, humor, and suspense, which kept me entertained. But to me what has been most outstanding about this series so far are the characters, especially Julia. She is a feminist in the best sense of the word. Julia is unafraid to go after what she wants; she is an equal partner in her marriage and has an adoring husband and three daughters, and an exciting job as a reporter (sometimes it's a bit too exciting). She's admired by others who perceive her correctly (even by some of the thieves). I think this is important because all too often, men seem to be the only ones admired, in books and in life. Julia is admired not just for her beauty but for her intelligence and resourcefulness as well. Julia's daughters, the twins, Sharlene and Faith, and April, are portrayed as strong young women, and we expect that they will also follow their dreams. They have a strong role model, Julia, and a loving father who is supportive of his wife.
Wonderful news! Linda Weaver Clarke is generously offering a copy of the first book in this new series, Anasazi Intrigue, as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only).
- To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
- For an extra chance at winning, read the first chapter of Anasazi Intrigue, then return here and leave a comment about your favorite part of the chapter, or about what first grabbed your interest while reading the excerpt. The chapter is short and should only take a few minutes to read.
- For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
- For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
Enter by 5 PM PST on Wednesday, December 1. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Thursday, December 2. Good luck!
Special thanks to Linda Weaver Clarke for sending me her books to review and for offering this giveaway.