Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dangerous Allies by Renee Ryan

Dangerous AlliesDangerous Allies by Renee Ryan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was truly an incredible book, in my opinion. Ms. Ryan captured the fear and the isolation that a person who is in a harrowing situation and who is trying to do the right thing feels. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like for Jack and Katarina, trapped in an environment where evil is fostered and rewarded, and the slightest mistake could end up with one's horrible demise or failure in a mission to save lives.

What I truly appreciated was how the author wrote a fictional story that spoke to my spirit, my heart, and my intellect. It seems like a coincidence, but it's not. I read this book right when I needed. I am in need of being reminded that I am not in control, and better yet, that's not a bad thing. It's hard to accept that, but there is such a freedom when one does. For a control freak like myself (and Jack and Katarina), acknowledging that you can't control everything is one of the hardest things you must do, but you have to do it all the time. This past week at work was not good, and I tried to do my best in that situation, but I couldn't control all the situations I faced. I had to accept that, and seek God's will in that situation and trust that He would take care of me. So, I could feel what the characters in this book struggled with. But the good news is, that God is in control, and His will is done. It doesn't mean things will always go our way. But the truth is, when God leads you into situations, He will not abandon you or forsake you. I loved how Renee Ryan illustrated this so eloquently. How she had Jack and Katarina recalling scriptures from their childhood (since both had lost faith due to the horrible things that happened to them prior to this book) that reminded the of God's protection. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit will do that, and give the believer peace even in the worst of circumstances. As I read, I could deeply identify with that feelings that these characters I came to love experienced. How things looked so bad, but God's spirit promised His protection and His guiding hand for His children, even those who forgot that He will fulfill His promises. Yes, I read this book right when I needed to, and it helped renew my faith that God would take care of me.

Another thing I loved about this book were how charismatic and powerful the characters of Jack and Katarina were. Their magnetism reached off the page at me. Jack is a true alpha male in the best sense. He is unafraid to put himself on the line for others, always seeks to protect others, and uses his considerable assets of intelligence, training, and adaptability to maneuver in some truly dangerous circumstances. He is also tortured because he has left behind his godly ways after he ended up being forced into the life of a spy, and what his calling has forced him to see and to do. He believes he is doomed for his actions, although he does them for the right reasons. Katarina is an actress whose role lasts twenty-four hours a day. She is playing the role of an empty-headed Russian princess who earns a living on the stage, but has a penchant for getting involved with dangerous men. Deep down, she is a woman who is working for the British as a spy with the goal of protecting her mother, whose heritage could send her to the death camps. I loved the ice cool natures of these characters, and how they handled challenges that came their way. And I loved their vulnerabilities. Both had believed that God abandoned them and that they were on their own, but they learn that God never abandons His children. Sometimes we don't look hard enough to see His guiding hand, even though it's there in the dark. I loved how they found each other in the seemingly forsaken, evil environs of Nazi Germany, surrounded by men who seemed bent on world domination and annihilation of peoples who they felt beneath them, including the Jews, devout Christians (those who didn't follow the new religion of Germany based on nationalism and Nordic/Teutonic paganism), and people who spoke against their regime. Their relationship had real chemistry. I could see that they found something worthwhile in each other on every level. They saw something powerful in each other, that spoke to them. And God worked through both of them to bring them together and back to a knowledge of His love and protection.

This book has some very powerful scenes that made me cry. The scenes in which both characters seem at the end of their strengths, but manage to pull through because of their will, their newly rediscovered faith in God, and His steady hand of protection. I am not one for praying in a group (it makes me feel awkward), but I loved the scene where Jack and Katarina pray together. It make me cry because it was something they both needed and it gave them strength to face the dark circumstances that they needed to confront.

Ms. Ryan did a great job with this period. Although I am an not expert on this period, I have read up on it, and I could see that she did her research, and used that knowledge to write a powerful fiction story set during this horrible time in history.

I am so blessed to find another Christian romance that spoke to me. I had long feared that I wouldn't find any that ministered to me in a deep, powerful manner, and also provided an intense, edgy story that wouldn't leave me wanting more. Dangerous Allies definitely did this for me. Dangerous Allies shows a part of history that breaks my heart and makes me soul-sick. The good thing about this book was that it reminded me that although Nazi Germany seemed like a godless, evil place, and it seemed as though the Lord's presence wasn't there to protect the innocent from the terrors of the Nazis, that wasn't true. There were people of faith there working to end the reign of terror and horror that the Nazis had over Europe during this period. I couldn't ask for more in a book.

Thank you, Ms. Ryan.

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