Bound by Guilt
2011 March Tyndale Fiction
General Christian fiction
From the publisher: Roxy Gold is a throwaway, shuttled from one foster home to another. She longs for a family and will do anything to fit in.
CJ Darlington's sophomore novel avoids the slump. Completely. In fact, I liked Bound by Guilt much better than Thicker than Blood. Bound by Guilt has a more-rounded feel, a better linear story line and complete characters who participate fully in the narration.
Readers plunge into the seamy world of tramp life looking to take advantage of others right from the opening paragraphs. How could two teenagers become so lost and so troubled by their actions? One has been taken from a negligent mother and passed around like a hot potato; the other raised by a single doting mother. Related by blood only, Bound by Guilt is a very smooth transition from Thicker than Blood, using peripheral characters to create a sense of familiarity while devising a whole new story. Roxy is a sixteen-year-old girl who, contrasted with police office Abby Dawson's same-aged daughter, has nothing and no one to lean on or love, except for her second cousin Diego and his mother, Irene. The Tonelli's live by white collar crime, claiming not to really hurt anyone. When those conditions change, Roxy's conscience takes her on a God-directed journey toward all her heart's desires. That same guilt, however, must have closure and eventually her secret is discovered.
Abby Dawson has reason to hunt down Irene and Diego and Roxy. Although suspended on an unrelated incident, Abby uses her cop influence to sift through clues that lead her to her brother's killer. Things are not what they seem, however, when Abby catches up to Roxy. Bitterness, hardness of heart and guilt all come to a head as no one gets what she or he expects.
I can smell the dust and ancient ink, hear the crackle of pages and creak of bindings as CJ skillfully unrolls her story. Heartache, tissues, anger, relief, and remorse will be your constant companions as you read Bound by Guilt. CJ's style has definitely matured and I look forward to more from this talented young woman.
Catch an interview with CJ at The Barn Door on March 23.