Shaken (Heart of a Warrior series, Book 1) by Kariss Lynch
On the day of her university graduation, Kaylan Richards stood at the crossroads of her future. She could choose a safe and secure route, work at her family’s dance studio until she begins her internship and gets her certification. She would be near home and family. Or she could take the road less traveled, making a decision to follow the Lord’s leading in a completely different direction. That would take her to Haiti as a volunteer for six months putting her recent training to use in a more challenging situation.
Kaylan’s choices were not so simple. A few years ago she gave her heart to Nick Carmichael, a Navy SEAL and best buds and fellow Team member of her brother Micah. But he had crushed her love and hopes when he had suddenly called off their relationship, shortly after his first deployment. Now, on her day of graduation, he was back. He wanted a second chance with her. She was angry with both Micah and Nick. What of her decision now?
Kaylan and her best friend, Sarah Beth, were finally settled into Rhonda’s extra bedroom in Haiti’s capitol city, Port-au-Prince. They were both working with Rhonda’s organization as volunteers, Kaylan as the clinic nurse, and Sarah Beth with the children in the neighborhood, teaching them to read. They were quickly falling in love with the people whose spirit of survival seemed indomitable. The poverty was overwhelming, but the people were tough. Over time, it felt as if the girls were the ones learning the most…about survival and what really mattered in life.
Then came disaster. A large earthquake hit the country, especially in the capitol city of Port-au-Prince where the girls were living. Lives all around them were lost, and Kaylan and Sarah Beth were trapped in the collapsed house with no way to escape until someone could come to dig them out. By that time, it was too late for Sarah Beth. Kaylan was pulled out, only hurt a little, but emotionally broken and in shock. In an effort to put off facing the loss of her best friend, she threw herself into the work of helping those injured at the clinic.
When Micah and his family and Nick heard about the earthquake, the SEAL buddies made use of their contacts to fly out to Haiti to bring the girls back home. By some miracle they found Kaylan–feverish, malnourished, dazed, working like a bulldog to help as many victims as possible, but on the verge of collapse. While she healed quickly enough at home in the hospital, it soon became obvious that Kaylan needed time to heal emotionally and spiritually. She had been tested, and believed she had been found wanting. This was when Nick began to prove to her and her family his rock solid commitment to her. Only he seemed to be able to reach her heart and help her through the nightmares, the flashbacks, and her insecurities. It took time.
The author, Kariss Lynch, has written a powerful story that touches our hearts with its poignancy, heights of adventure, and the depths of despair. It shakes our hearts from their complacency and makes us ask ourselves how our faith in Christ would survive if faced with a similar challenge.
Additionally, the author successfully communicates to her readers the plight of the Haitians both before the January, 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake and after. She clearly portrays the dual struggle for physical survival and the spiritual battle being waged over peoples’ souls in a society where the culture combines voodoo beliefs with those of Christianity in a twisted hybrid that benefits no one. Yet in spite of the spiritual darkness, flickers of light shine out when someone finds their hope and purpose in Jesus.
Thirdly, I was drawn to the complex relationship Nick has with Kayla in light of his calling and desire to serve his country as a SEAL, and Kayla’s struggle to deal with this. The reader is pulled into the fray as the two attempt to reach an understanding they can both live with.
I enjoyed the finely tuned balance the author found between struggle and victory, between weakness and strength of spirit, between belief and practice of faith. It is not easy to write this kind of balance. I have often read stories where struggles and angst in life are overly drawn out–where the resolution is too hastily contrived. Some tales leave the reader dissatisfied or feeling as if something was missing. But I believe this book offers the readers a satisfying resolution while at the same time making it clear the tale will continue as a series. With an equal amount of character development and action, I can highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Christian fiction novels.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from The Booketeria on behalf of Charisma Media/Realms. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”