by Judith Pella
I bought this book without looking at the description too closely, only to discover that it is a Christian romance. I am not a Christian. D'oh! Despite the fact that I have no interest in reading about people finding God, this book still was not bad, and an enjoyable read.
Here's the plot: Joel Costain, blind since birth, is a successful San Francisco lawyer. One day, a sleazy ex-con named Greg Mitchell shows up in Joel's office, claiming to be his long-lost brother. Greg wants to introduce Joel to their father, Charlie, just released from prison, so they can go in together on a get-rich-quick blackmail scheme. Joel is suspicious, but he knows he was adopted, and he's curious to meet his birth father. But the next day Greg turns up dead under dubious circumstances. Joel contacts Greg's ex-wife, Irene, to help solve the mystery of who killed Greg and what happened to Charlie. Irene, who was badly burned by her relationship with Greg, is reluctant to get involved with this unexpected brother, but she finds herself falling for him.
This book is much better written than the average romance novel. The San Francisco setting is particularly detailed and well done. Joel and Irene are appealing characters. Irene is wary and shy, reluctant to do more than take care of her two young boys. Joel is confident but also very sensitive and religious. He's so perfect it's a bit unbelievable--I doubt there is an attorney as successful as this who is also so in touch with his feelings and willing to talk about them at great length, even more than Irene. On the other hand, the portrayal of blindness is very realistic. This is just about the only romance novel I have read so far in which the cause of blindness is actually realistic and common (in this case, oxygen overdose at premature birth). Joel is well-adjusted and not bitter, but his abilities are not superhuman. Even better, the other characters treat him like a normal adult, no one gets too worked up over his blindness.
On the down side, the dialog is pretty stilted and unrealistic. And the romance part is better written than the mystery/suspense, which is rather obvious and not very thrilling. Also, because this is a Christian book, there is of course no sex, only some hand-holding and chaste kissing.