Thursday, May 13, 2010

Queen of Hearts, by K. Dawn Byrd

Daphne Dean is a news reporter and photographer in New York during World War II. Her boss has convinced her to join up with the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, to help with secret wartime intelligence activities. Fiercely patriotic, Daphne is eager to serve her country, but has no idea the danger in which she is being placed, not only in the OSS, but in her job as well. When she is assigned a murder scene to photograph, she quickly gets tangled up with the mafia. It seems nothing, and no one, in her life is what or who they seem, and Daphne struggles to know who to trust. The story takes a dramatic turn when Daphne enters hiding in a troubling location with Vito, the most mysterious and handsome man she has ever met. But can Daphne trust Vito? And can Daphne trust her own heart?

This best seller by K. Dawn Byrd grew from her 2009 National Novel Writers Month commitment. I am flabbergasted that such an amazing book was written in 30 days, because K. Dawn does not take a single short cut. Her characters are well developed, her plot well developed and fast moving, and her setting descriptions so vivid you can hear, see, and smell them.

I loved the fact that the protagonist is a strong, woman of faith. Strong women were not exactly common in during this time setting, but they did exist, so to hear about one is very satisfying. There are many instances where she fights conventional female stereotypes, and avoids pitfalls that women are prey to during that time in history, and her strength is commendable. I love Daphne’s character, because she shows that one can be feminine, and emotional, and a woman of extreme faith, and still be a strong woman.

I am also pleased to see such variety in the male characters of the book. The characters of Kenneth and Vito are so different, not only from each other, but from what you expect them to be. I love when, as a reader, I am surprised to find out who the good guys are and are not. K. Dawn does an excellent job of keeping the story full of interesting twists and turns.

This book had me hooked, I read it in about thirteen hours, and it only took me that long because I had to get some sleep in the middle of it, since I started reading it at night. The story moved so swiftly, I just did not want to stop. I became emotionally invested in these characters. I wanted to know what happened to Daphne, and I wanted to learn if my gut instincts were correct about whom the good guys were or were not. The story made me happy, and at times made me shiver, but it never ever let me down.

The story is a romance, but completely chaste, with emphasis on faith, so it would be a suitable book for a young adult reader. There are some themes that can be a little darker, because the setting for the latter part of the book is an old mental institution, and there are lots of ties to the mafia and black market, but any violence or darkness is minimal, not gratuitous, and absolutely necessary for the storyline. Because the action scenes are so well developed, and the story so suspenseful, the book appeals to males; because there is a romantic element, the book appeals to females. In short, I would recommend this book to anyone, and everyone, who enjoys a good mystery, suspense, romance, or World War II book. And that pretty much covers everyone. Which is why this is a best seller.