A Touch of Betrayal (by Catherine Palmer)

I first came across Catherine Palmer's books a few years ago, when I picked up three of them very inexpensively on the MV Doulos. I found them reasonably enjoyable, although very light and a bit predictable. I wouldn't necessarily have bought any more of her books, but was then given some by a friend leaving the island, who didn't want to take all her books back to her home country.

'A Touch of Betrayal' is the third in the Heartquest 'Treasures of the Heart' series about four adult siblings who live in various places around the world. This one features Grant, who's a researcher and writer living in a tent in Kenya.

It starts, however, with Alexandra, a fashion designer from the USA, who has just arrived at Nairobi airport, for a business trip combined with a holiday. She's from a fairly wealthy family, and takes for granted her lifestyle of expensive hair-dos, designer clothes, and all the modern conveniences of life that can be found in America. She is rather annoyed not to be met at the airport, and reluctantly accepts a ride with Grant, who she notices as the only other white person. Grant is there to meet his adopted Mama, a lovely old African lady who brought him and his sisters up after their mother died.

From the opening, it's clear that Grant and Alexandra are going to get together. What I didn't expect was something of a thriller, with several very tense moments and some extreme danger before the inevitable conclusion. Grant and Alexandra both learn a great deal about themselves, and Alexandra in particular learns to adjust her values and expectations, and begins to care about the new people she meets.

The author is clearly familiar with Kenya - or has done some excellent research - and the environment and people there came alive to me as I read. I found Grant and Alexandra a little bit two-dimensional and predictable, but the plot was exciting enough to keep me reading, almost unable to put it down by the end.

There's a Christian thread running through this book, as with all Catherine Palmer's novels, but it's not preachy. The African Mama gets away with a lot of Scripture quoting, and Alexandra's relationship with God is realistic. One character becomes a believer during the course of the novel, but it doesn't come across as forced in the context.

All in all, an enjoyable light read. Although it follows after 'A Kiss of Adventure' (which I haven't read) and 'A Whisper of Danger', it's not necessary to have read either of them first; each novel is complete in itself.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 4th November 2008

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