3 out of 4 stars
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Caroline is a lonely, twenty-year-old female, whose father recently passed away, her brother is frequently deployed in the military, and her mother has Alzheimer’s. Caroline works at the nursing home where her mother is staying to pay her way through school and lives in the family home. Therefore, money is scarce, and there is a lot on her plate. She has a small studio apartment she rents out for extra money that has just become vacant. Subsequently, it is rented by Hashim, a tall, dark, handsome, and mysterious stranger who responded to her ad. He requires a safe place to stay where he won’t be disturbed while working on a project. She experiences an instantaneous attraction towards him. Hashim is not there long before they start dating as he seems to feel the same attraction. She begins noticing that money does not seem to be as sparse for him as it is for her. What she doesn’t realize is he is running from something dangerous and that particular danger is rapidly approaching her doorstep. What are his secrets? Will they endanger Caroline? These and more questions will be answered in Sweet Caroline by Kelda Laing Poynot.
I loved reading Ms. Poynot’s novel as her writing is mesmerizing. The attraction between Caroline and Hashim is almost palpable. The chapters alternate, first being told from Caroline’s viewpoint and then from Hasim’s perspective. Therefore, the reader is cognizant of their thoughts as well as their actions and immerses fully in the tale. This fast-paced, suspenseful story is foremost a romance novel, but it is additionally a mystery and a thriller. I found it very difficult to put down, and when forced to stop reading for some reason, I was quickly back to the book as soon as possible. All the pertinent questions are resolved by the ending.
Caroline and Hashim’s characters are superb and multifaceted and are my favorite aspect of the book. Caroline is sweet and naive. Being devoutly religious, she prays regularly, studies the bible, and stands up for her beliefs. She tries living her life the way God requires. Hashim is not particularly religious. He is brilliant mentally, but not always as perceptive in his dealings with others. However, he is strong and protective. The supporting characters are also believable and multi-layered, although we don’t know the antagonists very well.
Religion is an important aspect of the book. About every other chapter starts with a verse from Proverbs, which has to do with the story. An example is, “A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than a steak with someone you hate.—Proverbs 15:17” I don’t believe this would be offensive to anyone as it does not disparage other religions. Caroline also did not attempt to convince others they should be Christians.
Several steamy sex scenes were woven into the story. These were done tastefully, but the reader needs to be aware of their existence.
I really wanted to give this captivating story 4 out of 4 stars. However, I found more than ten grammatical and punctuation errors, and this is my least favorite aspect of the novel. Although they were not distracting, there were a few too many to justify a perfect rating. It could use another round of editing. Therefore, Sweet Caroline achieves a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I think if the remainder of the errors were cleaned up, this exciting romance could easily achieve 4 out of 4 stars.
Readers who like romance novels, mysteries, and thrillers will enjoy this story. There is murder, sex, and profanity in the book, so it is unsuitable for children and anyone sensitive to those things.
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