Alone (2016) by SM Ford is a contemporary Christian Romance with a slight murder-mystery twist. This novel comes in all forms including eBook, and is 303 pages in length. With a full-time job and a five year old at home, this novel took me three days to read. I give this novel 3 STARS.
Here is the Goodreads blurb:
Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year old doesn’t count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark’s oh so good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she’ll be mixed up in a murder investigation.
Will Cecelia’s faith in God get her through all the troubles that lie ahead?
I don’t normally read murder mystery books anymore because I have a hard time not visualizing all the bad stuff. I am super sensitive to the bad. But, the Goodreads blurb caught my attention. SM Ford is a good writer. The pacing of this novel is smooth and flowing. I found myself pouring through the pages of this book. But, I am left unimpressed, overall. I do feel Ford has potential, especially in the Christian fiction market. She does a really good job of blending the Christian aspects into daily life that feels authentic. In that area, I felt the characters and their faith were very realistically written.
This novel is written in a single point of view. Personally, I don’t appreciate that point of view in most contemporary novels because often these first-person narrators are unreliable, and so one-dimensional. I hate not knowing what the other character is actually feeling. Many times, Cecelia, the protagonist and narrator, makes statements that make her seem younger than her 25 years, and that seem highly emotional and illogical (like young, immature women do in their early 20s). But, her actions often felt too prudish and old. I couldn’t place when Cecelia was supposed to be alive. She never talked about anything modern, she wrote letters, and would often do things like sit alone and knit. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Knitting can be relaxing, but for this character it felt old. All of this felt old. Overall, Cecelia felt exceptionally unrealistic to me as a 25 year old woman, and this took me out of the story often.
The first half of this novel didn’t do it for me. I loved the prologue. The prologue did a GREAT job of piquing my interest. And, the first few chapters are good. It’s good set up: a young, beautiful woman, Cecelia, becomes the live-in housekeeper to a handsome, successful published author, Mark. He is brooding and a bit of a loner. This is good material rife with potential to be amazing! But, then she goes off and dates his best friend, Simon. What?! Why?! Then, I kept saying to myself, “Well, maybe this will make Mark jealous and he will act?” Nope. Nothing. Some days he would be friendly, but most of the time he ignored Cecelia. Then, at the 50% mark, when Cecelia comes home from Christmas vacation, she is in love with Mark. What?! When did that happen? I actually told my husband, I think I missed a chapter somewhere. This “I now have intense feelings for my boss” moment kind of felt out of left center.
At this point, I’m still waiting for a murder mystery to begin. There is no set-up for one with any of the characters at this point, so I’m just waiting. And, Cecelia’s feelings for Mark are growing, but she keeps going to Simon’s house. And Mark is in no way showing any kind of real romantic feelings for Cecelia at all. It’s a very frustrating dynamic. Around 70% of the novel read, I actually looked at my husband to cue him in that I needed to talk about the book because I was confused. The pages are flying, but I can’t figure out why. Then at about the 75% mark, things start to happen. Cecelia gets attacked by three men. Such an odd moment I didn’t really anticipate because she wasn’t really in a scary locale, but I keep thinking that maybe this will lead to the murder-mystery part. Nope. No murder at this point. I’m a little frustrated at this moment, but I’ve come too far to stop reading now.
Around the 80% mark, things do pick up. Someone does get murdered, but it is not a mystery. It’s very easy to piece together what happened. There is a declaration of love and an engagement that feels rather unrealistic. And, then the book ends. Overall, I was a little disappointed. There were many places in this novel where the story could have taken off, but it didn’t.