Book reviews by
Shalini

Smoke Screen By Terri Blackstock – Book Review

Popular writer and author Terri Blackstock has written a great variety of fiction books.

Published in 2019, “Smoke Screen” is the New York Times bestselling author’s most famous story about the difficult romance between an ex-firefighter and a preacher’s daughter.

Here is our review of Blackstock’s Smoke Screen and what other reviewers said about this adult novel.

Who Is Terri Blackstock?

Born in 1957 in Illinois, Terri Blackstock is a well-known Christian fiction author who has written a wide variety of books.

With six million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is a New York Times bestselling author who has been writing for over 25 years.

Terrie Blackstock grew up as a child traveling with her Air Force family. She lived in different countries and nine different US states.

Due to her consistent traveling, she was often considered an outsider. That’s when imagination became a life-long companion for Blackstock.

This is what she felt was the biggest factor in her interest in writing and becoming a novelist.

Terri Blackstock’s writing career started when she was 25. But she worked for a long time for a variety of publishers, including Harlequin, HarperCollins, Dell, and Silhouette.

Throughout her successful career as an author, she changed her approach and started writing for the Christian market.

She decided to combine suspense thrillers (If you like Suspense Thrillers, you might also like What She Never Said By Catharine Riggs. Check out this book review on it!) with a Christian feel, and a lot of Christian publishers showed interest in her writing style.

Blackstock has written over thirty Christian novels which are mostly thrillers and suspense novels (If you like thrillers and suspense, you might also like One Night Gone By Tara Laskowski. Check out this book review on it!).

Smoke Screen By Terri Blackstock - Book Review

Smoke Screen Synopsis

Smoke Screen follows the character of Nate Becket who spent a large part of his life as a firefighter.

He left his hometown in Colorado after some rumors and lies made it impossible to live there. However, his mother asks Nate to come back home after his father is released from jail.

Nate returns but not because of his father. An injury forces him to come back home to the past he had left behind so many years ago.

His return also means that he has to face all the ghosts that are still waiting there for him, including the beautiful preacher’s daughter Brenna.

It is almost 15 years ago that Nate fell deeply in love with Brenna. They tried to keep their love a secret for a long time but when everything came out, it seemed like the beginning of the end.

When Nate tried to take Brenna out one night, her father Pastor Strickland discovered their secret and he ended up in a loud argument with Nate’s father.

Everyone could see that they had a fight, so it was quite clear for many when Strickland was found, that Roy Becket was the killer.

Before Nate’s father was convicted, the church was burned down and local residents were convinced that Nate set fire to the building as revenge for his father’s arrest.

However, Nate left the lies and rumors behind by leaving the town. But now that he has returned, he will have to face what really happened.

Smoke Screen also dives into Brenna’s perspective. She is shocked when she discovered that the man who was convicted of killing her father has been given a pardon.

She can still feel the raw emotions of the events from this fateful night, and it changed her entire life.

All these feelings from the time are coming back to Brenna, and all right in the middle of an exhausting custody battle between her and her ex who isn’t playing by the rules.

Each day seems to be just too overwhelming to Brenna and she slowly starts to turn to alcohol to handle even the basics of her day.

While Brenna and Nate work through their thoughts, a wildfire starts to threaten their hometown and their minds quickly have to turn to each other.

But before they can deal with the present, they will have to learn to trust each other first to fight the past.

Smoke Screen By Terri Blackstock - Book Review

Smoke Screen: Book Review

Terri Blackstock is a bestselling author for good reasons. 

Her many suspense stories do not just give the reader a puzzle to solve but they also give a deep insight into her characters’ emotional lives.

This being said, we found Smoke Screen different from some of Blackstock’s other novels. 

While there is plenty of suspense, there is less action but more tension from Brenna’s dramatic life events.

Many people expect a suspense novel to be explosions, car chases, or sniper shots but Blackstock’s Smoke Screen plot is very different.

It focuses mostly on the two main characters and their wrecked lives from the past that collide with the choices they have to make for the future.

What’s really great about this story is that everything starts out with the classic high school romance between Nate and Brenna.

Nobody would have imagined how two innocent children hiding a simple secret could lead to such terrible events as the murder of Brenna’s father.

This did not just end the relationship but it also changed the lives of both teenagers forever. Both of them had to deal with the loss of a father in their own ways.

Nate’s choice was to leave the town but he carried the burden of the stigma of his father’s terrible crime with him.

While both their lives went on, Nate and Brenna suddenly find themselves reunited after many years. But time doesn’t heal all the wounds. Their families are still objecting to their love.

Smoke Screen follows Brenna through her battle with alcoholism, and Nate tries to discover who the real killer of Brenna’s father is.

Smoke Screen By Terri Blackstock - Book Review

There is a great focus on Brenna’s struggles, and she is a very complex character. As a caring single mum, she tries everything to support her child and fight her ex-husband.

But even a strong woman like Brenna has limits. She is overwhelmed with everything and tries to numb her feelings through alcohol.

It takes quite a few pages to understand who Brenna really is and how her character unfolds throughout the story.

But it’s a great contrast to Nate who is often labeled as the hero in reviews that we have read.

The only downside of Smoke Screen is that this isn’t really a murder mystery. It didn’t take us long to figure out who the murderer was.

Online Book Reviews

Terri Blackstock has written a wide variety of Christian novels but only a few have been so divisive. Here are some other online reviews about Blackstock’s Smoke Screen.

“Smoke Screen is an excellent novel, with plenty of tension, and a solid dose of romance. Another great new release from Terri Blackstock.” – Iola Goulton

“Terri Blackstock has been writing Christian fiction (If you like Christian fiction, you might also like Evermore By Jody Hedlund. Check out this book review on it!) and suspense novels for a number of years and has had over 30 titles published. Smoke Screen is her most recent release and my first Blackstock book. And it won’t be my last!

Blackstock writes like the veteran she is. Her writing style is polished, yet simple and engaging. I found myself very easily drawn into the story within a page or two.

The plot and pacing are flawless; while not especially action-packed, there’s never a moment that drags. The complexity of the multiple storylines kept me on my toes without ever becoming confusing.

Throughout the course of the book, the author tackles some very difficult topics such as divorce, custody battles, alcoholism, murder, and more. And she does so with much grace, grit, and honesty.” – Sarah Grace Grzy, Goodreads

“Full of secrets, lies, and with a visceral impact that grabs from the first sentence, Smoke Screen is Terri Blackstock at her finest.” – Colleen Coble (USA Today bestselling author)

“Terri Blackstock is a staple in Christian suspense, so as someone who absolutely loves this genre it’s actually quite shocking that I had only ever read ONE of her suspense novels— and that had been YEARS ago (back before the genre was a preferred one for me even).

For whatever reason, they just never made it onto my TBR pile… after reading Smoke Screen, however, that is certainly going to change! I absolutely, positively LOVED it!” – A Modern Day Fairy Tale

“I loved this story! It was a page-turner with all the things happening with this family at once. I enjoyed the main characters and was able to relate in some ways with Brianna.

Nate is a prince who saves the damsel in distress. I loved that he was a Christian and took his faith seriously. If you love Christian drama you will enjoy this one.” – Amazon

“Terri never fails to deliver a plot that moves, well-developed characters who are real, flawed, and relatable.

Just a word of warning if you decide to pick up this book—don’t plan to do anything else until you finish it.” – Lynette Eason (bestselling author)

“Smoke Screen has enough drama, tension, action, danger, secrets, romance, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.” – Jersey Girl Book Reviews

5 Fiction Authors for Fans of Terri Blackstock’s Work

If you love the insightful, page-turning fiction of Terri Blackstock, then you’ll be excited to discover five authors whose stories have a strikingly similar feel and tone. A short introduction to these authors.

Karen Kingsbury

Karen Kingsbury’s novels are full of complex characters and heartwarming storylines. Following these characters over multiple novels has also allowed her to explore a variety of deep moral issues—from the power of forgiveness to family dynamics.

Her books have been evolving since the late ’90s, so there’s no shortage of works from which to choose!

Davis Bunn

Davis Bunn is a veteran novelist and playwright whose work has been translated into more than 20 languages. His writing brilliantly melds together suspenseful, page-turning plots with meaningful themes of redemption and transformation.

If you appreciate stories that take hold of your emotions and linger with you long after the last page is turned, Bunn’s novels are a great fit. With over 25 books under his belt, you’ll be sure to find one (or two… or three…) that appeal to you.

Francine Rivers

Francine Rivers is a New York Times bestselling author whose fiction captivates and transports readers. Known for her prolific Christian novels, she brings faith and hopes alive through characters that experience spiritual journeys while being pulled by the same influences, forces, and conflicts faces by most of us.

Rivers’ stories contain intense emotion, thought-provoking exploration into characters’ hearts and minds, and vibrant descriptions of natural places with strong Christian themes. Once you start reading Rivers’ work, you won’t be able to put it down!

Nicole Baart

Nicole Baart is a Christian fiction writer whose stories offer meaning behind the action. Her contemporary and historical novels focus on topics such as loyalty, faithfulness, hope, love, and grace. Her characters take on journeys of self-discovery and growth, often with an inspirational twist.

Spanning generational boundaries and set in diverse places from California to Tanzania, Baart’s work encourages readers to relate their own experiences based on when and where they’ve been.

Ted Dekker

Best-selling Christian fiction author Ted Dekker is known for pushing the boundaries with his imaginative, suspenseful stories. With over 25 novels under his name, Dekker is a master of dramatic story arcs and complex characters.

His books explore important Christian themes like sacrifice, faith, hope, and redemption as well as social issues such as racism and terrorism. Despite dealing with heavy topics, Dekker’s works tend to be quite lighthearted and offer a message of hope in all our circumstances.

Final Thoughts

Terri Blackstock’s Smoke Screen is an exceptional work of suspense fiction, captivating readers with its emotionally charged characters and engrossing story. A must-read for lovers of the genre, it offers powerful and poignant messages to take away.

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