Category Archives: Coastal Plain

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Tim Owens. The Search Committee. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2012.

In this novel Tim Owens presents an affectionate portrait of the people and places of eastern North Carolina.  When a small North Carolina Presbyterian church east of  I-95 needs a new pastor, the church does what churches do: they appoint a search committee to screen applications and visit the best candidates.  The seven parishioners on the committee represent all types of people in the church: they are young and old, long-time locals and newcomers, single, married, and widowed.  Most Sundays between the spring and early fall they pack themselves into the church’s Econoline van and drive around the state visiting preachers who are looking to move to a new church.

Much of the story is revealed through the musings of a young married man, Travis Booth.  Through him readers ponder how difficult it is for seven strangers to slip into the Sunday service of a small church without being noticed, what hymn selection might indicate about the preacher’s liturgical style, and whether pew cushions are worth the expense.  While most chapters begin with a brief selection from a Presbyterian catechism or confessional document and the book includes sermon excerpts that will make some regular church goers smile, the novel is not so much about the church as it is about the people on the search committee.  Each person carries a long-term sorrow or is facing a problem that is revealed as the novel unfolds.  Readers will root for these nice people to find grace and healing as much as they wait to see if the search for a minister will be successful.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Owens, Tim, Religious/Inspirational

Sandra Robbins. Shattered Identity. New York: Love Inspired Books, 2012.

Scott Michaels is a veteran with PTSD.  His faith is helping him heal, and as this novel opens he is settling in to his post-military life as a sheriff’s deputy on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.  Scott has kin on Ocracoke; uniting with them has given him a family he never knew he had.  After his mother died, her sister kidnapped Scott, so he grew up never knowing his father or his half sisters who now give him love and a feeling of belonging denied to him as a child.  He is both grateful and angry.  With these issues on his plate, Scott knows he should stay away from Lisa Wade, the attractive young woman who is the dispatcher at the sheriff’s office.

Lisa seems to have a more settled life and a secure place in the tight-knit island community.  But Lisa’s backstory is just as troubled as Scott’s.  Lisa’s father died when she was young, and her mother committed suicide a short time later.  With little love or guidance from her cold grandmother, Lisa nonetheless grew into a kind and sensible young woman. She did, however, make a mistake when she fell for the easy charms of Calvin Jamison, a local lady’s man and corrupt cop. When Lisa learned about Calvin’s illegal activities, she turned in him.  Calvin, now in prison, blames Lisa for his imprisonment.  When Lisa is attacked and her house ransacked, everyone assumes that Calvin is taking his revenge.  Scott is one of the deputies assigned to protect Lisa.  Against their wills, Scott and Lisa are drawn to each other as the violence against Lisa escalates and she discovers disturbing things about her community and her family.  In fits and starts they learn to trust in each other and in God as the novel moves to a dramatic climax.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Hyde, Religious/Inspirational, Robbins, Sandra, Romance/Relationship

Eileen Clymer Schwab. Shadow of a Quarter Moon. New York: New American Library, 2011.

“Jacy Lane, you are nothing more than a foolish quarter moon!” While Jacy is the pride and joy of her father, the wealthy plantation owner Mr. Bradford Lane, she is often the subject of her mother Claudia’s anger. Raised to be a fine southern lady in northeastern North Carolina, Jacy has enjoyed a comfortable existence marred only by her mother’s inexplicable bouts of rage. But her mostly happy life comes to an abrupt halt, first when a cruel landowner foists his ungentlemanly attentions on her, and then when Bradford Lane dies suddenly. When Jacy refuses to submit to the fate her mother Claudia has planned, the woman finally reveals the reason for her ill-treatment of Jacy: Jacy is the illegitimate child of Bradford and his true love, a half-white, half-black house slave. When the young Jacy heard her mother call her a “quarter moon”, she was really saying “quadroon”- a term for a person who is only three-quarters white. Naturally fair-skinned and kept paler with wide-brimmed sun hats, no one, not even Jacy, had guessed her true parentage.

Stunned by this revelation, Jacy begins a transformation. Galvanized by the further discovery that her birth mother and full brother are still enslaved on the plantation, she decides to deliver them, and the handsome horse trainer Rafe, to freedom. It is only when the three are safely away that Jacy realizes her true home is with them, no matter where they are or the color of their skin. Abandoning the relative safety of the plantation, Jacy strikes out to follow her family through the Underground Railroad to the north, true love, and acceptance of her own identity. Along the way she encounters great danger, temporary defeat, and the worst kind of human indecency, but ultimately emerges as a triumphant, strong woman with the ability to look her fears in the eye.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Camden, Coastal Plain, Gates, Historical, Pasquotank, Romance/Relationship, Schwab, Eileen Clymer

Richard Folsom. Indian Wood. [United States: BookSurge?], 2009.

Is it possible that three people were murdered because of something they found on an old reel of microfilm?  That’s what newspaperman Luther Surles wants to find out in this mystery that moves between the Court of Queen Elizabeth I and present day Greenville and Lumberton, North Carolina.

Carl Burden and Luther Surles met when they were covering a Klan rally in Robeson County in 1958. Carl was a cub reporter; Luther had been a newspaperman for a few years.  Luther stayed in journalism, but Carl went to graduate school and eventually became a history professor at East Carolina University.  Carl’s research interest is the Lost Colony and a possible connection between the colonists and the Lumbee Tribe.

Carl’s new graduate student, the lovely Roberta Locklear, is also interested in a Lost Colony-Lumbee connection, and soon both Carl’s research and his love life heat up.  But Roberta has her own history, and Luther begins to suspect that some piece of that ties into Carl’s murder.  This novel moves weaves stories of the wars, exploitation, and double-dealing of earlier centuries with a very twenty-first century story of property development and greed.  As a bonus, the book contains a novel-within-a-novel–Carl’s historical novella on the Lost Colony.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coast, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Dare, Folsom, Richard, Greene, Historical, Mystery, Robeson

Dixie Land. Return to Serenity. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2007.

Maggie and Ross Harrington, the main characters in Land’s previous novel, Serenity, are back in this sequel, Return to Serenity.  Maggie and Ross are now married, and they are raising Maggie’s son, Tyler, as their child even though Tyler’s father is Maggie’s dishonest, drug-abusing ex-fiancé, Michael.  Maggie and Ross are happy–they have become a true family and the network of friends evident in the first novel are present in this one too.  Because friends Caroline and Charlie are willing to mind little Tyler, Maggie and Ross are able to slip away for a romantic vacation in the Caribbean.

That vacation is Maggie and Ross’s last moment of bliss before problems from the past come back for another assault on the couple. Ross’s ex-wife Melanie has cancer, and she asks Ross and Maggie to take in her daughter (who is not Ross’s child).  Melanie’s request opens old wounds, but Melanie is not a threatening or frightening person, as is Tyler’s father, Michael.  Michael will stop at nothing to get Maggie and Tyler back. As in the past, Michael manipulates Maggie’s friends to get information on her, and while he appears to be using the courts to get Tyler, that is just a way to distract Maggie while he puts his true plan in motion.

 

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coastal Plain, Land, Dixie, Suspense/Thriller

Edward Vaughn. A Bite of the Apple. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010.

Mike Dawson has it all: a doting wife, Diane, three healthy and happy children, and a successful career as a pastor in a growing church. Although he grew up being neglected by his alcoholic and abusive parents, Mike is providing a different environment for his family. This all changes when his affairs with congregation members, including the church organist, come to light.

Although Diane and his children want nothing to do with him, Mike seeks treatment for his sex addiction in the hope that they will one day accept him. He experiences lapses and periods of extreme self-pity, but Mike eventually is able to control his obsession. When Mike and Diane’s older son dies tragically in a car accident, the family is reunited in their sorrow.

Although the Dawsons experience unimaginable pain, their shared experiences help them to confront other issues–including teen pregnancy and a diagnosis of HIV–with each other’s love, support, and understanding.

A Bite of the Apple is the fifth novel in Edward Vaughn’s “Cumberland County Series.”

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship, Vaughn, Edward

Dixie Land. Serenity. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2003.

After she finds her fiancé with another woman, Maggie Thornton decides to bail out of the life she’s been living.  With no specific plans, she packs up her belongings and heads south.  Only because she needs a break, she stops in the little (fictitious) town of Serenity, North Carolina.  The good people of Serenity welcome Maggie, and soon she has a place to stay, a job, friends, and a new love.  But Maggie’s past comes back to threaten her happiness when her ex-fiancé attempts to push his way back into her life, abusing the trusting nature of Maggie’s friends to keep tabs on her and to subvert her new romance.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Coastal Plain, Land, Dixie, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Andrea Johnson. Blood of My Blood. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2009.

Samantha thought her life was on the upswing when she was adopted from an orphanage by Janet and Paul Rivers who brought her to live with them and their two children in Jacksonville, North Carolina.  Samantha began to blossom, making good grades and becoming a cheerleader.  But suddenly bad things began to happen in Jacksonville–poisonings, accidents, explosions, murders.  As this supernatural thriller opens, Samantha is on the run with Jason, a young drifter to whom Samantha has given her heart.  The two young people know that the violence in Jacksonville wasn’t random and that an evil force is coming for Samantha. Their journey takes them to Charlotte and then on to New York City where they learn they must go back to the small town of Melrose, North Carolina so that Samantha can find out who she really is.  Before the novel is over, readers will read the stories of Samantha’s mother and grandmother and learn Jason’s true nature.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Horror, Johnson, Andrea, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Onslow

Edward Vaughn. The Forgiven. New York: Xlibris, 2007.

Kathleen Kelley grew up in a sheltered and deeply religious family in Omaha, Nebraska. Her strict parents placed well-intended expectations on her, and their daughter grew up to be very naive. When Kathleen follows her boyfriend to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, she cuts ties with her family and entrusts her future to someone she does not know very well. He quickly proves to be a poor choice, and Kathleen soon finds herself alone and penniless. She begins dancing and becomes a cocaine addict, eventually prostituting herself.

Although Kathleen is miserable at the turn in her life, she finds a glimmer of hope in her daughter. Sadly, one of her johns violates her trust and kidnaps her child, molesting the girl before killing her. Kathleen is heartbroken, but the police and media rapidly condemn her as the murderer. She does not refute her negligence, but Kathleen venomously denies committing the heinous murder.

Though most people in Cumberland County persecute Kathleen, her public defender does not believe that someone who had previously trained to become a nun would later kill her daughter. He works to clear her name and to find the criminal; he also falls in love with his client. Throughout her ordeal, Kathleen must find the strength to forgive herself for her past life in order to start anew as an exonerated citizen and loved wife.

The Forgiven is the second novel in Edward Vaughn’s “Cumberland County Series.”

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller, Vaughn, Edward

Keith Spence. The Blood of Saints. Winterville, NC: Shadow Line Press, 2009.

Law enforcement is not an easy job. Especially when dealing with criminals who will kill. Or when the offenders are high-level politicians, government officials, and business executives. Add money, national security, and ego to the mix, and police work is a very dangerous field. For Mike Saville of the F.B.I. and Lowri Pritchard of the U.S. Park Police, these are moot points. Both individuals will test the limits of their careers in order to get to the bottom of difficult cases.

Although Saville and Pritchard do not know each other, they are working on the same case. A series of suspicious deaths, officially ruled suicides, occur both in Saville’s (fictional) Kendall County (near Pitt County), North Carolina, and Pritchard’s Washington, D.C. Because the victims’ autopsies suggest self-inflicted wounds, the cases are supposed to be off-limits to Saville and Pritchard. However, they believe that something more sinister has occurred. By the time their victims’ connections unite the officers, each is in the midst of a perilous situation. Saville is beginning to uncover a multimillion dollar anti-terrorism deal gone bad, and Pritchard has connected a colleague to the killings and cover-ups involved in that tainted agreement. The information that they share with each other makes them even more unsafe. When Pritchard’s co-worker discovers what she has unearthed, he holds her captive and tortures her. Saville comes to her rescue. Their agencies officially get involved, and the criminals are arrested. Saville and Pritchard’s perseverance helps them get to the bottom of high-stakes crimes, protect national security, and find each other.

Some readers may be uncomfortable with Spence’s graphic descriptions throughout the novel. The torture scene is especially disturbing.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Pitt, Spence, Keith, Suspense/Thriller