February 2, 2016
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Can the truth set her free?…
A part of Mercy died the summer her sister tragically drowned. Now Mercy has a chance to discover if Faith’s death was an accident—or murder. Her first step is to confront the lead suspects: a band of traveling gypsies—the last people who saw her sister alive. But Mercy finds an unexpected ally in Cross, the soulful musician in their ranks. He’s a kindred spirit, someone who sees into her heart for the first time in, well, forever. Yet stirring up the past puts Mercy in danger…
Suddenly someone is shadowing Mercy’s every move, making her even more determined to uncover the facts. With Cross by her side, she is ready to face it all, even if that means opening up to him, knowing he may one day leave her. What she discovers is a truth that rocks the foundation of her small river town—and a love worth risking everything for….
This one almost lost m in the beginning. First we meet (and/or learn of) Mercy, her sisters Faith and Prudence and that they're the pastor's daughters. Then we meet Cross. All of those names together was almost too much. (Yes, I know, all but one of those names in sin the book description, but I forgot by the time I started reading.) But the story itself kept me reading.
In Place of Never is an interesting blend of a mystery, grief and healing, and romance.
Mercy and Cross do not have your typical introduction - and not only because silk flowers are involved. I liked that it seemed to be perfect timing, but the 'why' was also there. The inclusion of the 'sideshow,' the performers, the history around the day Faith drowned, and what the town thinks of them was great. It gave one more reason for her to keep secrets and there was definitely enough about the Lovell's to arouse her suspicions; it all works really well for a mystery.
She and Cross were sweet. If I stopped to think too much about the timeline, it did all seem to happen very quickly but you can't deny that they do fit well together. That she is supposed to be this 'good girl' and he is travelling with the 'evil' Lovells created difficulties but was't overdone.
At the start, I wasn't sure about Mercy's dad being the town pastor. There seems to be a role (at least in books I've been reading) set for the conservative, but caring town pastor who puts his congregation first and ends up being an absent father. While that was true of her father, the author did a better job than expected really making him and his being the pastor part of the story. The girls' life at church, how who he is shapes what people expect of them, and even church services themselves were part of the story. I appreciated the expansion of the character/role beyond the usual.
The way that finding out what happened to her sister, Faith, is also a part of Mercy healing and of her family coming back together was nice. We see the rebuilding of the relationship with her sister, Pru, and maybe with their father as well. There wasn't quite the balance between the mystery elements and Mercy's relationships I wanted (with the mystery suffering for it) but I enjoyed it.
In Place of Never was a slow read for me, but Mercy, Pru, Cross, Anton, even the Lovells and the girls' father kept me reading. They have some great interactions and I wanted to see the relationships really flourish. The inclusion of the Gypsy/Roma was unique and I thought the small town reaction to them fit - especially given Faith's death. I really loved Mercy and Cross and Pru was adorable.
review copy received, via NetGalley, from publisher