From Ashes to Honor - Loree Lough

Released September 2011

Loree Lough
Abingdon Press

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

In the Bible, it says "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." That plays a pretty important part in From Ashes to Honor. I don't like giving reviews that have spoilers, but to really review this book, I have to start by saying that anyone reading this book expecting a Christian romance is going to be sadly disappointed. The book's ending is as far from an expected ending in a romance as is humanly possible.

From Ashes to Honor is the first book in the First Responder series. It's well-written and I liked many of the characters, but by the end I was really disgusted. Up until that point, I'd been led to believe I was reading a romance, but I don't know if I could qualify it that way at the end. It's extremely realistic and sad at the same time.

Mercy Samara is a NYC counselor and sees her share of the fall out after 9/11. One of her patients, police officer Austin Finley is showing so much anger that Mercy recommends desk duty. Austin's not happy with that choice and ultimately leaves the police force.

For Austin, 9/11 will forever be the day that he dodged a call from his twin brother only to learn that call was his brother saying goodbye after realizing that he would never make it out of the World Trade Center where he worked. Austin also lost his partner that day. He's angry and even madder with Mercy for being the reason he is demoted.

Years later, the pair meet again in Baltimore. Austin is now a paramedic and Mercy is a high school guidance counselor. They click and the romance begins. The problem is Mercy doesn't believe in God and Austin could needs her to believe. He's putting everything he has into convincing her because he cannot commit to a woman who doesn't believe.

One thing that immediately came to mind is a show Morgan Spurlock did. He had a series called 30 Days. During this series, either Spurlock or someone hired to do the show would enter a situation/job that made them very uncomfortable and had to fully immerse themselves in that situation for 30 days. There was one episode where a very Christian woman had to live in an atheist family's home. Many of her actions towards this family bothered me, but it's when she attended an atheist group meeting that she started learning of the cruel behavior people in this group were experiencing. Supposed Christians treated many of these atheists cruelly making me wonder if they simply don't read the Ten Commandments or feel they are above those teachings.

I got that same feeling from From Ashes to Honor's very abrupt ending. Mercy didn't believe, therefore she wasn't good enough. I liked her character, she had valid reason to be angry with God. Because of the treatment she received in the end, however, I definitely disliked the book.


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