Monday, May 2, 2016

Book Review: Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt

by M. J. Joachim

I’m rather fond of Professor Bell, having gotten to know him in previous titles in the American Journey Series written by John A. Heldt. He’s a friend and comrade in September Sky and Mercer Street, a bit eccentric, but an all around good guy. He and his wife Jeanette are an older couple with hearts of gold, who’s major destiny and quest in life is to travel through time, discover family history and help (qualified) others do the same. So when Cameron entered the scene with somewhat obscure intentions, and I could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he realized what he had actually stumbled upon, his maneuvers challenging, abrasive and even mildly threatening, I was fully prepared for this villain, a character I was sure I would love to hate, to become the antagonist in the story. Set the scene in 1925, the year my father was born, and Indiana Belle quickly became a book I simply couldn’t put down. Add in scenic elements of the Sierra Nevada, I was married in Lake Tahoe, plus a whole lot of small town Indiana, I’ve got family there too, well, even without the added familial and sentimental connections, intrigue and the makings of such a fine story couldn’t help but get the best of me.

Indiana Belle is distinct from Heldt’s other books in a variety of ways, adding in elements of a crime and murder mystery, treasure hunts in far off lands and a budding romance that promises to alter history, or at least attempt to, while encouraging readers to hope and trust that love will conquer all. As much as it is a fantastic tale of action and adventure, it is also a heartfelt tale of family, a story where we get to know Jeanette Bell, the Professor’s wife, on a much more intimate level. She is the Professor’s crown jewel, as it were, because being the ultimate dreamer that he is, she is the lifeline to his intense and often questionable life’s journey. Without her, none of the books in this series would have been nearly as endearing, because her character development is essential to the stories, a development that has readily unfolded to reveal one of my favorite and treasured friends in Heldt’s books.

That’s when you know you have a really good story, when your audience identifies with and claims the characters portrayed as its own. Cameron grew on me, and when all was said and done, I didn’t end up hating him, as much as I might have liked to early on. His character needed help, but so did Candice’s, his counterpart and love interest in the story. They were both exquisitely challenging people, tempting fate and seeking their own agendas. Masterfully planned and futuristically shadowed, their journey actually took them to a time and place no one anticipated, not even me. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, as I realized the significance of such a journey, noting the importance of its prophetic implications. What would the world be like without writers who implicated the repercussions of blind action and mindless thinking? Seriously, John, we need much more of this, because it truly does give one pause, catching us unaware and delivering a message so profound that we can’t help but sit up and pay attention to our actions.

Indiana Belle is a timeless story, funny since it’s foundation is established in time travel, capturing the essence of family, commitment and respect, promoting morals and values in a culture when far too many times, these things are fully ignored or depreciated. Filled with action, adventure, mystery, awe and romance, it’s one of those books readers will readily identify with and find difficult to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am more than happy to recommend it to you.

Now if I could ask a quick favor of you, please. Click the share buttons at the bottom of this post to help get the word out about Mr. Heldt’s book. This one deserves to move up on the charts, and the more you pass this review around, the better the chances that will happen, so please share this post with others, because in doing so, you help set a high standard for reading excellence, all the while providing an encouragement for authors to be mindful of publishing the same.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Happy reading, writing and whatever else you do.

M. J.

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