Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Depth of Deceit, by Betty Briggs
Purchase Depth of Deceit here

Blonde and beautiful, fledging attorney Stephanie Saunders vows to protect the innocent even though as indigent defense attorney her clients rarely are. Does that include Josh Durrant who seems to be following her? Stephanie is dismayed when her peers begin calling her “Prom Queen” as her boyfriend, Todd Saxton, often does. Desperately trying to prove her worth, she falls prey to those who steal her innocence. Although she plans to forgive Todd for his ultimate betrayal, she is never given the chance. Her boss, Attorney Charles Connelly, offers solace, but is Stephanie’s welfare, or his own, top priority? The only thing that keeps Stephanie sane in her insane world are the horses she loves but does not own, especially the abused mare, Riskie Business, whose example helps Stephanie make the most difficult decision of her life. Relying on wit and courage, Stephanie must save herself and another during the final showdown where she proves a loyalty of which she never knew herself capable.

2010 Winner of the Silver Quill for second place in the Fiction category for the League of Utah Writers Publication Awards.

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book.

I certainly didn’t expect to love it.

But I did. I couldn’t put it down.

Stephanie Saunders is tired of being given all the worst cases at her law firm, but as the lowest man on the totem pole she’s left with no options and is stuck trying to prove herself with repetitious indigent defense cases. When she’s assigned to defend the irritatingly good looking Josh Durrant she has trouble maintaining an impartial attitude. She’s sure he’s a bully, though her job is to defend him. She also keeps getting distracted by his polite manner and apparent genuine concern, which are in definite conflict with the fact that he seems to be stalking or her.

When things turn out badly with Stephanie’s boyfriend she falls apart and her kind boss, Charles, is there to pick up the pieces. In her vulnerable state she finds herself thrown into the position of looking after an abused expectant mare, Riskie Business. She identifies very strongly with Riskie as the two of them move through their difficult times together. All the while Josh hovers in the background, in one minute an empathetic friend and the next a creepy stalker—though he continually denies the allegation.

Just when Stephanie starts to find some backbone, things explode and she finds out that she’s been on the edge of disaster without even knowing it. There’s danger at every turn and she’s got to pull it together to survive.

I was irritated by Stephanie’s weakness on two counts. First, her boyfriend was a jerk. He never treated her well but she stayed with him anyway. He seemed to be all about her appearance rather than who she was. I would have liked her to send him packing. Second, she relied too heavily on her boss to help her through her tough times. It didn’t work for me that a smart, driven, young women, who has pulled herself through law school under difficult circumstances would fall apart so completely that she couldn’t even live on her own for several months. However, those two irritating character defects didn’t keep me from devouring the book. Inconsistencies in character are all too real.

My favorite part of the story was the confusing relationship she had with Josh Durrant. Evil stalker or empathetic friend? Well done.

Depth of Deceit keeps you hooked until the end, wondering which players are the good guys and which ones are the bad guys. The characters are well developed and enjoyable. I’m so glad I was introduced to this book, and I look forward to more from Betty Briggs in the future.

Once in a Lifetime

I recently returned from a glorius Senior trip with my daughter, Sam. We starated a tradition with our oldest son, to take our graduating Senior on a trip sometime during their Senior year. Bruce took Jason to England. I took Sam to Italy. We couldn't really afford it but what the heck, it's only money.

The trip didn't start out under the best of circumstances. In order to actually graduate, Sam had to finish her two online classes before we left. She made it, barely. We flew without incident to NYC, but then stalled. Our plane hit another plane on the runway and we were stuck.
You can watch a video of our little "accident" here:

We eventually made it to Venice, Italy--after running for two flights (we didn't make either) and arriving a day later than expected. We even made it to the cruise before it pulled out of port. Bonus.

From Venice we traveled down to Bari, Italy, then Corfu, Greece, and then Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was a lot of fun, although a bit nippy. We managed to lay out on deck one afternoon. I've never been on a cruise before where they put out blankets next to the towels on deck.

The blankets were more high demand than the towels.

The best thing about the trip? Spending time with Sam before she moves out for good. I'm going to miss her piano playing. It was so much fun to see her experience a trip to Europe. It can be startling when all of the chatter around you is in various other languages. We noticed that each country had it's own "look." From the red tiled roofs in Bari, to the gray stone buildings on Corfu, and the high fortress walls of Dubrovnik, the views were spectacular.

Venice was unlike any other city I've been to. Delta Airlines was gracious enough to change our flights so we could come back a day later than planned to make up for the day we lost in NY. The buildings go right down into the water. Seriously, you can't see the ground. I assume there's some dry (ish) land somewhere under all those buildings. Here's a picture,

and another

The thing most apparent to me on this trip is not very politically correct, but what the heck, here it is. I first noticed when a family was pulled aside after we left the plane in Venice. Most of us were in a lemming line to go collect our baggage. One family was pulled aside by police and they were talking. The family, consisting of a mother and father and two small children, looked like they were from a Arab country perhaps. I wondered at the time if they were pulled aside due to racial profiling.

I noticed it more on the cruise and various ports. There were many languages spoken but Sam and I were sized up for a moment and then spoken to in English. No one ever tried to speak to us in French, German or Italian. I began to notice what people looked like when others spoke to them in Italian, or another language. Italians LOOK Italian. German's have a look about them. Even the French, kind of. I would look around the dining room and everyone in the room could have been American, but we really wouldn't all have been Italian, or German, or French. Then I thought back to the family at the airport. I don't think they would have been singled out in America--there would probably have been an outcry if they were. But in Italy (or Greece or Croatia) you can kind of tell by looking where a person is from.

In the United States you can't tell. AND I LOVE THAT. I love that about our country. It's our differences that make us the nation we are. If you tried to judge someone by their appearance here you would more than likely be wrong. We get our strength from those independant and strong individuals who gathered themselves to the land of the free, mingled with those who were already here and those who were forced to come.

On the ship and in all the ports we heard more American music than native music. We did hear a bit of Italian, but not much. We were in a bus in Bari, taking a city tour, and the tour guides had Train playing. Sam and I smiled as one of the other passengers sang along. English was obviously not her first language and some of the words were more approximated sounds than anything. But she knew the song. The common language was English. Why? England is a pretty small country and the US is on the other side of the world. But mostly we heard American English, not British. I had worked on my Italian but hardly needed it. It was unexpected, the American influence I mean.

And now some quick pictures of Bari, Italy; Corfu, Greece; and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Corfu, at the old fort.

Dubrovnik, the wall goes all the way around the old city and we walked the whole thing.