Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ransomed Dreams

(Defenders of Hope Series #1)
by Amy Wallace

Published by Multnomah (2007)
336 pages

Heart Healing Romantic Suspense

Gracie Lang has it all: a strong faith, a devoted husband, and two precious children. Then, on a rare snowy night in Georgia, she watches in horror as a swerving black vehicle swipes the van carrying her family. As the van careens off the road and down an embankment, the black vehicle speeds away, leaving three dead in its wake.

Two years later, feeling abandoned by God, Gracie is tired of merely trudging through the days, numb, and is determined to find her family’s killer, to see him behind bars, to at last have justice for her family. She’ll finally have the healing she seeks.

But then, the handsome Crimes Against Children Unit, FBI special agent Steven Kessler appears in her first grade classroom to pick up his son, and for the first time in years, Gracie dares to think she might love again.

Steven Kessler is a man once in love with God, until his life caromed out of control: his wife left him for another man just weeks after giving birth to their son, abandoning both of them. Building onto the marriage failure are the haunting memories of all the children he fails to save.

Whisk into the story a man seeking murderous revenge, and another willing to do whatever it takes to hide his guilt and insure his freedom, and you’ve got one spicy plot.

Adding depth to the plot, author Amy Wallace, folds in an issue so many people grapple with today: believing they’re not good enough, they’re unlovable, they’re a failure. Through this story, Amy points out that’s not true. She asks, who are you listening to: the father of lies? Or the Voice of Truth?

She also stirs in the power of forgiveness. How not forgiving can hold us back, and keep us caged and bitter. But to forgive is freeing.

Amy Wallace excels at blending romance and suspense. (Think Dee Henderson ratcheted up a notch or three.) She writes captivating stories, layers them with multi-faceted characters, and creates a foundation of faith to carry them along. She takes you deep inside the messy, true-to-life characters’ heads and hearts so their struggles are tangible and believable. Her books are more than romance, more than suspense, but rather a journey showing heart growth and healing. An exploration of faith.

A Chat with Amy

Before I introduce you to Amy, I need to share a special God-incident. Two years ago the American Christian Fiction Writers held their conference in Bloomington, Minnesota. Being from the Minneapolis area, I was thrilled. I was also eager to get autographs from two specific authors whose books stood over and above others I'd recently read. Amy Wallace was one of those authors.

Since I lived near the conference hotel, I volunteered to chauffeur editors/agents/authors from the airport to the conference. To connect with my riders at the airport, I held out the ACFW sign and had several people stop and talk about the conference. One of the first people to approach me was Amy. What a thrill it was to meet her and best of all, gain a new friend. She is truly a beautiful person.

And she has graciously answered a couple questions to share with you:

What inspired you to write Ransomed Dreams & the other Defenders of Hope novels? Why did you chose the ultra-difficult topic of Crimes Against Children.
The inspiration for the Defenders of Hope novels came from my own wrestling match with God over a mom's greatest fears. I didn't set out to write about crimes against children, but the more I worked with my editor on Ransomed Dreams, the clearer it became that the FBI's Crimes Against Children Unit in DC was where my story belonged. And while each book tackles very difficult topics like abuse, racism, death, cancer, kidnapping, and cases with children, my focus is always on the healing from those situations and how God can redeem even the worst circumstances.
Can you give us a synopsis of your writing journey? I'd personally be very interested in knowing if "being published" lived up to your dreams.
I began my writing journey oddly enough. In searching for good stories to share with my daughters Christmas of 2001, I came across some grown-up novels. Devouring my first taste of fiction since college, I read seven books by the same author and then handed the books to my husband. When he'd finish reading, I'd tell him what changes I'd make. After the seventh, my husband handed the book back and told me to write my own. My response? “No way!”

But then I couldn’t forget a dream I had about an FBI agent with a wounded heart and a mom on a dangerous quest for answers. So I wrote the story after meeting with an awesome federal agent who was a huge help with story ideas and factual details. And even though I had a blast writing it, I had no clue what I was doing. So after typing THE END, I got involved in an awesome writer's group called the American Christian Fiction Writers. I spent a little over three years learning all I’d done wrong and fixing it. As I learned the heart and craft of writing, I kept working on a number of novels, short stories, and proposals. Then I received a recommendation for an agent who loved my first book and we signed a contract. Eighteen months later the publishing house I dreamed of working with offered me a three-book contract, and my first novel, Ransomed Dreams, hit the shelves a little over a year later in 2007.

Has being published lived up to my dreams? That's a loaded question. In the most important ways, yes. I've found a calling and career I love. I've met the most amazing people and part of my work time is spent reading fantastic fiction. My children have watched me pursue a dream and live it and been inspired to pursue their dreams. And I've been stretched and grown and stretched some more by God through each novel and every step of this journey.

But in other ways, no, being published didn't match my dreams. It's HARD work. And there are many, many opportunities for disappointment and discouragement. Just like there are on the other side of a contract. But writing is now part of who I am and who my family is. So I'll continue down this path until the Lord turns me elsewhere. And I'm learning to be thankful for every bright spot: a glowing fan letter, each writing day where the story carries me into another world and I see God at work, my critique partners who share a love of story and make me better with every critique, and the privilege of teaching others about writing fiction and inspiring them to dream big.
Thanks, Amy, for visiting Spire Reviews today. I can't wait to read more from you in the future.

To Find Out More:
Website: Dark Chocolate Suspense  http://amywallace.com/
Blog: Heart Chocolate  http://www.peek-a-booicu.blogspot.com/


  1. Brenda, Wonderful, insightful review. I am thankful you had one of those divine "coincidences" that led you and Amy to meet. I'll be looking up her blog and books in future. Thanks for a great post!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Laura. If you're at all a chocolate fan, you'll love Amy's blog & website ... and her books, too. :D