Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Power Corrupts and Great Power Corrupts Greatly . . . "Taking a Stand" by Ken Casper

Homebuilder Jesse Amorado and former Air Force Captain Tori Carr come from the same Texas town but from very different worlds. When she returns home to Coyote Springs to help her father, a real-estate developer, turn the seediest neighborhood into an exclusive resort for the wealthy, Tori and Jesse immediately clash. He'll do whatever it takes to save his heritage, and she is caught up in proving herself to her father. 

As personal tensions rise and local trouble begins to brew, Jesse and Tori fall in love-despite it all. They soon find, however, that they must not only confront vested interests and prejudices, they have to fight for their very lives.

I received this advance reader copy from Net Galley toward the end of 2011 and just re-discovered it on my eReader this past week.  I'm a great fan of stories that have both a romance and some mystery/suspense, and this book has both in goodly amounts.  There is also a hefty amount of culture clash and the ever-present issues that emerge over immigrant populations and the significant distance between people who live in great comfort right along side those who barely manage to survive.  This book does not back away from those issues nor drawing its word pictures so realistically that the reader can feel the anger and frustration of the residents who live in the poor neighborhood through which Tori drives her sports car.  Yet readers will also experience the frustration of those who have invested significant amounts of money in development projects, some of which can make or break families and fortunes.  This book has it all and it was a marvelous reading experience.

It has been said that ". . . power corrupts, and great power corrupts greatly."  I think that statement encapsulates the core of what is going on in this story.  At the crux of the crisis is two philosophies, one which sees everything in "progressive" terms, sort of the "out with the old and in with the new."  No one wants to see people live in dangerous housing, yet for many and in spite of the deterioration, their neighborhood has been their family's haven for generations.  For them, there is little to recommend the shiney and new.  On the other hand, a man like Tori Carr's dad has worked hard to build quality into the structures of their community, but a man like that doesn't sometimes see that others are hitchhiking on his hard work and can ultimately sour the achievements of a lifetime of diligence.  There is mistrust and betrayal aplenty in this story, hurt from words and actions, disappointment in long-term friends, and some ah-ha moments when people who should have been trustworthy turn out to be scoundrels.  

This is a beautifully written novel and it is one that serious readers can enjoy while having their imaginations exercised well.  It is not a simplistic tale and there is sufficient mystery to keep the reader wondering who is really the bad guy here.  It is a part of a series yet each book can stand alone.  And most of all, this novel testifies to the find talent and expertise that went into its creation, of a writer who knows how to tell a really good story and do it in such a way that the reader never wants to put down the book.  I am looking forward to the next story in the series with bated breath.  I give this book a rating of 4 out of 5.

This novel was released by Bell Bridge Books in November, 2011.

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