No Escape in Sight by Laurie Penner

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2014/06/14 by rmstrong1980

No EscapeWhen Beth Robertson’s new landlord “accidentally” runs into her while Beth is out with her teenage daughters, she would have never guessed that the next week and a half would change her life. She had never had much luck with men—her only two serious relationships had been violent, abusive ones—so when Mrs. Sanders introduced her to her prodigal grandson Luke, Beth politely got out of there… quickly. So quickly that she left without her older daughter, Emily, with whom she had just had another fight, confident that Emily had gone to a friend’s house to cool off.


Emily, however, did not come home that night, and the friend didn’t know where she could be.


Just as she begins to panic, good-looking Luke is conveniently there to help her. Turns out, Luke owns a private investigation business and is good at finding people. Neither of them can deny the chemistry between them after just a few moments together. However, because of her history, Beth has sworn off men in general, and Luke isn’t a Christian, which makes him even more out of reach. After a couple of false-starts and misinterpretations, Beth finally explains her reluctance. Her first husband—and the girls’ father—had been great at first, but had been an abusive drunk. When he was killed in a boating accident, her next relationship was the more of the same. When Beth finally worked up the courage to break off that relationship—by moving to a place in northern California where she didn’t know anyone and no one knew her—he vowed revenge.


When Emily is spotted the next week in southern California, Beth, her younger daughter Bonnie, and Luke are off in a car headed south together.


Emily, meanwhile, is where she wants to be, with a strange man sent by her paternal grandmother, driving her down to LA. She dubs him “Mr. Nice,” and he turns out to be anything but.


The story is told from three points of view, Luke’s, Emily’s, and Beth’s and is mostly free from spelling and grammatical errors. However, many trademarked names—names of restaurants, for instance—are italicized when they should not be. Also, all of the terms of endearment (honey, dear, etc.) are capitalized. Not huge mistakes, of course, but annoying. These mistakes are consistent throughout the book.


I liked the spirituality of No Escape in Sight. Beth’s inner conflict—trying to forgive herself over issues with Emily—resonated and was true of any parent. The fuddy-duddy-ness of Beth’s over-conservative Christian landlord was dealt with properly and with respect. The Christian rule-of-thumb about “do not yoke yourself to an unbeliever” was respected, although that hadn’t helped Beth much in the past as she had met both of her abusers in church.


However, I found two things incredibly unbelievable in the story. First, Emily. I get that a teenage girl can be mad at her mother and plan, with adult help, to run away to reunite with family members far away. However, I don’t know of many 15 year olds in this day and age who think it would be a good idea to get into a car with a stranger in the first place, let alone call him “Mr. Nice.” Children today are taught from the time they can walk to not go off with strangers, especially those who say “Your mom (or, in this case, Grandma) sent me to get you.” When things started going wrong, Emily did not try and get help—even in public, with other people around, she did not scream—but went along obediently. When we find Mr. Nice’s true identity, the fact that Emily would call him that becomes even more unbelievable.


Secondly, the romance. Sure, I get the need to have some kind of interpersonal relationship between two of the main characters, but does Beth really need to be vacillating between picking china patterns and wanting Luke out of her life completely while her daughter is missing and she doesn’t know if Emily is even dead or alive? Most of the inner dialogue is focused not on Emily or where she might be, but on Luke and how cute he is and how close they are getting and how dare he talk to an ex-girlfriend. It’s almost as if the story cannot make up its mind. Is it a mystery, is it a romance, or is it a suspense? If my child was missing, I would drop everything to look for her, not wait until spring break when you had vacation time coming from work to go look for her.


The story is quick, and the twist is not overly predictable. I was able to read the book in a few hours. I was given the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.



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