Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: Persona Non Grata by Stephen J. Stirling

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Persona Non Grata, by Stephen J. Stirling
2014, 224p, LDS Suspense
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

Paladin Smith is just that—a paladin, a chivalrous knight, a heroic champion, a defender of a noble cause. In spite of his callous exterior, he’ll never abandon a woman he perceives to be in distress— especially this one. Trust me. Our Mr. Smith fully intends to rescue Victoria Grant.

Paladin Smith seems to be an ordinary high school history teacher—and LDS seminary instructor. But Paladin’s checkered past comes back to haunt him when an unexpected visitor shows up in his classroom with news about a former student, Victoria Grant, who’s all grown up—and in trouble.

Now Paladin is going to Crimea, in former Soviet Russia, with an uncomplicated task: find Victoria Grant and bring her home. But when his simple mission thrusts him headlong into an international conspiracy and a countdown to invasion, Paladin finds himself on a collision course with the American embassy, the royalty of Crimea, and the powers of Eastern Europe.

Dive into a world of corrupt diplomats and ambitious tyrants as Paladin follows the Spirit to not only rescue an old friend, but also to save a free people from the jaws of dictatorship. Paladin Smith and Victoria Grant are about to change the world.

The Prologue starts with a meeting between an American and a Russian aboard a yacht. Something nefarious is going on and the American is confident that no man and no power in the universe will stand in their way. (This reminded me of the arrogant predictions that not even God could sink the Titanic.)

Next we meet Paladin Smith, a school teacher who uses unique methods to get the attention of his class. He is visited by Congressman Chase one day. Seven years earlier, the Congressman's niece, Victoria Grant, was in his seminary class. Congressman Chase wasn't thrilled with the attention Paladin gave his students and forced him to resign. Now the Congressman has come to Paladin to see if he will go to Crimea to get Victoria to return to the United States. Paladin goes, not knowing how he's going to accomplish this mission. And once he arrives in Crimea, not everyone is happy he's there.

This book is fantastic!! It held my interest from the first page and was hard to put down. Paladin is just a regular guy that agrees to do something that seems simple but he still has no idea how he's going to accomplish it. He didn't do everything perfectly but was able to figure out what the next step should be, and as he got more involved, he realized that Victoria was surrounded by men she didn't understand. 

Victoria respects Paladin but is also wary since her perspective was that he deserted her before. Victoria is trying to make a good life for herself but is in over her head. Paladin's married so there's no romance between him and Victoria, which I thought worked well in this book. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough as I wanted to know what would happen next.

Some of the villains in the book were obvious and I found others to be hard to figure out. It kept me guessing until the end. There is an LDS element to this book, but it's not preachy. The author explains terms in footnotes to help the reader understand what he's referring to. There are some great messages to take from this book and it will appeal to anyone looking for a clean, suspenseful read!  

Check out the author's website here to learn more and read some excerpts!

Stephen J. Stirling was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in the Southeast LA semi-ghetto of Huntington Park. Graduating from high school in 1970, he received a scholarship to Brigham Young University at the age of 17. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism in 1976, and then spent the next few years wandering America in search of adventure. Interspersed through his college career and days on the road, he served a mission in Chile and taught for 8 years as an early morning seminary teacher. Settling briefly in Chicago, he entered the profession of advertising, a field in which he ultimately held many positions with companies from the Mid West to the Pacific Coast. He eventually planted roots in Orange County, California, where he established Stirling Communications and spent 15 years as a freelance copywriter, scriptwriter, and video producer. In 1994 he was hired by the Church Educational System and relocated with his family to Gilbert, Arizona, where he has fulfilled a lifelong dream of teaching released-time seminary for the past 20 years. He and his wife, Diane, were married in 1981 and are the parents of five children – Jennifer, Lindsey, Brooke, Marina, and Vladimir. Brother Stirling is the author of several books, including The Ultimate Catalogue and Shedding Light on the Dark Side.


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