“I can’t do it.”
Across the room, my Uncle Lon looked up over his glasses and interjected himself into the conversation. “Can’t usually means won’t try.”
The words burned in my twelve-year-old heart because, well, I knew he was right. I didn’t want to try. Again.
After struggling through one of my math workbooks, I’d determined I had no aptitude for arithmetic and should just throw in the towel. Mom’s words weren’t much more helpful. “Since you have to do it, you might as well convince yourself you can.”
“Doesn’t work that way, Mom.”
She eyed me. “It worked when you convinced yourself that you can’t after years of doing it without any trouble.”
Yeah, she kind of had a point. No, I didn’t like it. Oh, and yeah. She was right.
It happens a lot, you know? Something kicks us while we’re already down, and we get it in our heads that we can’t get up again or something. We can’t push the kicking foot away. It’s ridiculous, but we do it. We allow circumstances to create a “smoke screen” of doubt that clouds our vision and makes it difficult to know which way to turn and go.
I saw that in a book I read recently. Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock shows exactly what I’m talking about.
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Do You Have a Smoke Screen Killing Your Confidence?
It’s been at least ten years since I’ve read anything by Terri Blackstock. The last time I didn’t read anything by an author for a decade, when I got a new book by her, I didn’t like it, so I went into this book with a bit of fear and trepidation.
I shouldn’t have worried about reading Smoke Screen. Terri Blackstock is still at the top of her writing game. She created sympathetic characters who do stupid, stupid things that make you want to shake them, and in the end, you cheer past their weaknesses and exult in their joys and victories.
Blackstock tackles sensitive issues like divorce, custody, alcohol abuse, family drama, and false accusations head-on and with an authenticity that resonates from every page.
I needed to read this book quickly, and usually, I can. However, this book doesn’t allow you to rush past important passages and exciting moments. Instead, it holds you in its grip and turns the pages for you, making sure you’ve absorbed every nuance left on the page.
There are many.
Look, I won’t pretend that I didn’t call just about every twist and turn in the book. I doubt it was my brilliance as a deductive reader. It’s more like Blackstock’s brilliance in writing.
See, she chose to write the story that needed to be told, and while some of the elements were obvious, how she told them wasn’t. Instead, she unfolded the story with perfect precision. Not once did it drag. And, even better, not once did I feel rushed through any element.
Hey, I didn’t even care that it was told in first person. That’s sayin’ something!
Recommended for lovers of suspense and mystery, as well as those who are fascinated by firefighters.
Smoke Screen is on tour with Celebrate Lit
About the Book
Book: Smoke Screen
Author: Terri Blackstock
Genre: Christian Suspense
Release Date: November 5, 2019
One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.
Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.
Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.
Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.
As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.
About the Author
Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY, bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series.
Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com
Excerpt from Smoke Screen
I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.
An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”
T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”
“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”
“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”
I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”
“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”
It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.
“The family. Were they injured?”
“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”
“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”
“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”
I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second-degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third-degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.
“I won’t need a month,” I said.
“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”
I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”
“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”
Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.
Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.
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