Beverly & David Lewis,
(Bethany House, 2001)

Melissa James has the perfect life. Blessed with a loving husband and a beautiful home in New England by the sea, she has a comfortable existence in which she works because she chooses to and has time for her painting. But Melissa's perfect life is shattered when a chance encounter in a local restaurant sends her fleeing for her life, for she harbors a deadly secret that could destroy all she holds dear.

After driving for hours, Mellie finds herself in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Deciding that she will take refuge among the charming Amish folk, she takes a room for rent at the home of Lela Denlinger, an unmarried Mennonite woman who had only that morning prayed that God would send her a worthy mission.

Mellie and Lela become cautious friends and Mellie finds herself relating her story -- and her secret -- to the Mennonite woman, who vows to help her, and who prays constantly for help and guidance in dealing with Mellie's troubles.

But Mellie can't hide forever. Missing her husband, she contacts him, only to find that he has secrets of his own and betrayal is not out of the question, even from one who loves her deeply.

Sanctuary is a new novel from the writing team of Beverly and David Lewis -- their first together. Beverly's childhood in Lancaster County provided rich source material for the Lancaster settings, as well as vivid descriptions of Amish and Plain life. The story is suspenseful and well-paced, easy to read in just a couple of sittings (or one long one). By not revealing Mellie's secret too early in the story, they successfully get the reader involved -- if only to find out what the danged thing is! Although the way in which the Bad Guys track down Mellie relies a little too heavily on coincidence for my taste, it is plausible in the context of the story.

This is an explicitly Christian book. For those not familiar with them, Bethany House is a Christian publisher and the book is marketed to Christian bookstores. As a result, several of the characters spend a great deal of time falling to their knees in prayer, and at least two characters become Christian in the course of the story. This does not necessarily detract from the story, but just as some readers have no patience for the elements required by, say, a Harlequin romance, some may have no patience for the elements required of a book that so heavily involves Christianity.

Sanctuary is a fascinating, suspenseful, romantic novel with interesting characters. It's worth a look.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]
Rambles: 14 December 2001

Buy it from