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January 2011

Genre City: Simple Deceit by Nancy Mehl

Title: Simple Deceit (The Harmony Series Book 2)
Author: Nancy Mehl
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Date: December 2010
ISBN: 978-1602607811
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Reviewed by: Kim Peterson

Gracie Temple spent a few months tying up loose ends in Wichita so she could move to Harmony, Kansas, and settle into the house she inherited from her uncle. Her boyfriend Sam and her new freelance career designing for a land developer await her arrival. But her return stirs up more mystery in the quaint Mennonite community.

Before she can reach her new home and reunite with Sam, Sheriff Taylor pulls her over. Less than friendly, his veiled threats make Gracie uneasy. Then she drives past just as someone deposits a baby on the church steps in the cold and snow. A blow to the head thwarts her attempt to rescue the infant. After this not-so-warm welcoming, rumors circulate that the infant belongs to Gracie. Sam reassures her that he knows better, but distances himself emotionally.

Gracie assists with plans to build a retirement development just outside of Harmony, if negotiations gel. She wants only what’s best for Harmony, but the community’s mixed response dims her excitement about the new job. While shopkeepers anticipate increased revenue from new customers and tourists, others feel the town’s uniqueness will slip away, and they blame her for helping outsiders threaten their way of life. Gracie worries that relationships are falling apart, then the land owner goes missing and Gracie’s job disintegrates. Ironically, the only thing going right is that Sam’s formerly hostile ex-girlfriend offers overtures of friendship.

In the second book of The Harmony Series, Mehl explores the nuances of relationships and the secrets people hide from the ones who trust them. The real threat to Harmony isn’t Gracie, but the pretense and deceit disrupting the peace that characterizes this quaint town. When deceit persists, evil flourishes. Someone vandalizes Sam’s orchards, and the men discover a dead body. Each time, the sheriff shows up before they can call him. Who is this man? Gracie suspects he isn’t who he seems. But most disturbing is wondering what secrets from the past Sam hides. Can she trust a man who doesn’t trust her? Simple Deceit reminds readers that honesty matters and truth must prevail.

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