Tag Archives: C. F. Dunn

Book Review: Realm of Darkness

15 Aug

51SSa9J+ucL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Emma and Matthew are finally free to marry, but Matthew’s secret continues to haunt them.

Emma D’Eresby can look forward to a future with Matthew Lynes. She at last reveals to Matthew the nature of her relationship with Guy Hilliard — her supervisor at Cambridge — and the reason she has found it difficult to forgive him or to trust any other.

Their joy at marrying is short-lived as, to her disgust, Emma discovers that Guy is visiting the United States to attend the history conference at which she is the keynote speaker. Although everyone seems charmed by him, Emma doesn’t trust Guy. Worse still, she discovers that Ellie is dating Guy, bringing him within the family fold.

Long-held grudges and wounds surface and it is clear that Guy poses a threat to everything Emma loves.




cfdunnC. F. Dunn runs a school in North Kent for children with developmental disabilities, dyslexia, and other difficulties. Explore the author’s website HERE.


My Impressions:

The fourth book in C. F. Dunn’s The Secret of The Journal series continues the atmospheric creepiness the author has been developing. In Realm of Darkness, Emma and Matthew seem to have overcome the obstacles to a happily-forever-after ending to their romance. However, secrets from both their pasts rise up causing strife and mistrust. The story is back on track after a less than satisfying third book, and I am looking forward to finally having all the answers when book #5 is released September 2016.

Realm of Darkness is a novel sure to appeal to those who like a bit of spooky, creepy and supernatural in their reading. Mystery and history combine to create a book with its feet in two eras. Much has occurred over the course of the 4-book series, so you really must start at the beginning to get the whole picture. As couples go, Emma and Matthew have a lot going against them — family opposition, former lovers, and there is that age difference that seems insurmountable. You see, Matthew is 400+ years old with no sign of aging or slowing down. The whole immortality theme is continued in this book, but there are hints that the mystery surrounding that will be explained and resolved in the final book of the series. As Christian fiction, Realm of Darkness is a bit lacking. There are references to God and dialog referring to God’s power, but until the very end there is not much evidence in the lives of the characters. At the end, the author does explore the concept of forgiveness and its power to liberate from guilt. Please be aware that this book is also British fiction, so there is some language and adult situations not usually found in American offerings. But . . . I really like the main characters and the supporting cast developed by Dunn. I like the spooky atmosphere she creates through setting. And I like the interconnection of past actions with present day happenings.

All in all, I liked Realm of Darkness and am glad there’s not much of a wait for the final novel, Fearful Symmetry.


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


Book Review: Rope of Sand

14 Jul

Rope_of_Sand_COV1-196x300This third volume, set in rural Maine’s deep winter, follows the developing relationship between British historian, Emma D’Eresby, and American surgeon, Matthew Lynes. Emma unravels Matthew’s alarming past and begins to comprehend how very diff erent her future might be with a man whose identity must never be revealed.

Emma nervously meets Matthew’s family. She encounters his seventy-year-old son, Henry, and learns how unique the family really is. As Christmas approaches, it is clear that Emma is not welcomed by all: what does Matthew’s great-granddaughter have against her, and what might his sinister psychiatrist granddaughter, Maggie, be prepared to do?

Bound by their faith, Matthew and Emma have accepted that they must wait to be together until his wife dies. Very reluctantly, Emma meets Ellen—an elderly woman with a core of steel—and learns how living with Matthew will mean concealment and lies. How can they have a life together?


cfdunnC. F. Dunn runs a school in North Kent for children with developmental disabilities, dyslexia, and other difficulties. Explore the author’s website HERE.


My Impressions:

Rope of Sand is book 3 in C. F. Dunn’s The Secret of The Journal series. It is definitely not a standalone novel. (Click on the titles to read the reviews of book 1, Mortal Fire and book 2, Death Be Not Proud.) I liked the first two books and really looked forward to another installment in this supernatural, romantic suspense/mystery series. Unfortunately, Rope of Sand didn’t really measure up for me.

Emma D’Eresby has been swept up and back to America by Matthew Lynes. Emma’s presence in patriarch Matthew’s life is met with caution by some and out right hostility by others. The machinations of some of the family force Emma to confront her stalker and attacker, Kort Staahl in court. But the bulk of the book is spent on the deepening relationship between Emma and Matthew.

I liked Emma and Matthew when I met them in books 1 and 2. However, In Rope of Sand their relationship consisted of a lot of giggles, tickling and sweeping up into each other’s arms. The supernaturally youthful Matthew is old enough to be Emma’s great, great, great–, well you get the picture. But their love story just seemed very immature. Emma is young, but as a professor with established credentials, she is no blushing ingenue. The romance really got on my nerves! The focus on the Lynes family peculiarities — youthfulness, strength, agility, etc. — was what I wanted more of.

The question is will I read book 4 when it comes out? Absolutely! I am hoping the young love phase will be past and the series can again focus on the mystery surrounding the Lynes family. So there you have it. I liked the first books of the series, #3 not so much, and am hoping for a return to the twisting, eerie mystery found in the first books.

Please note: Although Rope of Sand is billed as Christian fiction, the British definition of such is a bit broader than the American. There is profanity and a good deal of sexually charged scenes, although no actual sex.

(Thanks to Lion Hudson for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Death Be Not Proud

13 Aug

640349_w185Following the vicious attack by a psychotic colleague, and reeling from the suspicion that Matthew Lynes is not all that he seems, Professor Emma D’Eresby flees her college teaching position in Maine to her hometown in England— taking the mysterious seventeenth-century journal she stole from the college’s archives with her.

Broken physically and emotionally, Emma drifts until, fearing for their daughter’s sanity, her parents invite a family friend to assess her. In the course of their conversation, Emma discovers that he spoke to Matthew over thirty years before.

This finally spurs her into action and soon, when she finds what certainly must be a reference to Matthew in the journal, she begins to understand Matthew’s profound secret.

But when Matthew arrives to confess his love for her, she must decide if she can trust him—and he must decide if he can share his extraordinary secret with her. Drawn by a deep connection that both feel but don’t quite understand they find they must set aside their doubts and trust each other.



cfdunnC. F. Dunn runs a school in North Kent for children with developmental disabilities, dyslexia, and other difficulties.

My Impressions:

C. F. Dunn has created a world in which the past meets the present, where the unexplained intersects with the ordinary.  Death Be Not Proud is the second book in the Secret of The Journal series and begins where book 1, Mortal Fire, ends.  As such you really should read book 1 first. That will save you a lot of time and confusion!

Emma D’Eresby has returned to England with her parents following the vicious attack by a colleague. But that’s not really causing Emma’s slide into depression. The severing of her relationship with the very mysterious Dr. Matthew Lynes has left her confused, guilty and desperate. Her parents, while well-meaning, do not have a clue as to how to help her. It is her determination to find the truth surrounding the Lynes family that leads Emma to healing and a point of no return.

Mortal Fire ended with lots of questions, and while Death Be Not Proud went a long way in answering them, it became a typical second book in a series. A bridge of sorts, it filled in background, but not a lot of action or furthering of the story took place. I found myself skimming to get on with the story. It wasn’t until the reappearance of Matthew that my interest was piqued. A lot of time was spent developing Emma’s family relationships and did help explain her character, but I really wanted to get on with the story.

Now that the negatives are out of the way, let me tell you why I like this series. It is a supernatural story that is not filled with vampires, demons or zombies! Matthew’s otherworldly abilities have a beginning much more mysterious. I am hoping that book 3 will examine the source of this mystery. The book combines history with a present day mystery — something I love. And Emma, although a Christian, struggles with matters of faith and trust. The faith message is subtle, not preachy. The novel is also not predictable. The characters often act and react in ways I did not expect.

So if you like a supernatural, historical, romantic mystery that combines all of these elements well and you don’t mind starting at the beginning, and being patient with a story, then pick up Mortal Fire and Death Be Not Proud. Hopefully, book 3 will be on its way in short order!

Recommended, but read book 1 first.

(Thanks to Kregel for a copy of this book. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase a copy of the books in this series, click on the images below.

Book Review: Mortal Fire

18 Sep

Twenty-nine-year-old, independent, and self-assured Cambridge history professor Emma D’Eresby has one obsession in life: the curious journal of a seventeenth-century Englishman, a portion of which was left to her by her late grandfather.

When an unexpected opportunity to study the journal in its entirety presents itself, Emma finds herself leaving Cambridge to take up a year-long position at a prestigious university in Maine. Anticipating a quiet year of research, Emma quickly discovers her work impeded by a range of unforeseen complications. From the start, there is the well-intentioned matchmaking of her vivacious Russian colleague, Elena Smalova, and the unexpected jailing of one of her post-graduate students. More troublesome, however, are the unsolved, brutal night attacks on women near the university and Emma’s suspicion that they might be linked to the sinister English professor, Kort Staahl. But, most diverting and disconcerting of all, is Emma’s growing attraction to the strikingly handsome Dr. Matthew Lyons, whose kind but deliberately distant demeanor puzzles her.

Suspense and dread mount when Kort begins to take a persistent and unsettling interest in Emma. What are Kort’s intentions, and what is he capable of? And the mystery surrounding Matthew only deepens when Emma discovers a link between him and the journal. What is Matthew trying to hide?

C. F. Dunn runs a school in North Kent for children with developmental disabilities, dyslexia, and other difficulties.



My Impressions:

Dr. Emma D’Eresby has come to Maine as a guest lecturer in history — history focused on the methods and motives of torture of the medieval and early modern world. She finds herself surrounded by breathtaking scenery and eager students and the unwanted attention of some of the male faculty. But Emma’s focus is on a personal journal that has been the goal of her research for years as it was for her grandfather before her. But Emma can’t get the feeling of oppression and fear out of her mind. She senses a presence watching and waiting for her. And her resolve to teach and research only, is undermined by the very handsome and very different Dr. Matthew Lynes.

C.F. Dunn has created an atmospheric mystery — the scenery, the weather, the buildings themselves add to the weight of secrets and suspense. The characters are suited to the story — you like the good guys and loathe the bad ones — and they don’t always react in predictable ways. This is the first book in the series (5 are planned), so there is quite a bit left unresolved. Not sure I can wait until 2013 for the release of book 2, Death Be Not Proud, but there is an excerpt from the book to give the reader a glimpse of just what is to come. Although not a vampire novel, the book does contain an otherworldly character that is very intriguing, and I could see fans of Twilight really liking Mortal Fire.

Overall, I really liked Mortal Fire and recommend it to readers who enjoy a suspenseful mystery with a romantic and supernatural twist.


(I received Mortal Fire from Kregel in return for an honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)