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The breath of dawn by Kristen Heitzmann

The breath of dawn (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Kristen Heitzmann

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12533142,086 (4.18)None
Title:The breath of dawn
Authors:Kristen Heitzmann
Info:Minneapolis, Minn. : Bethany House Publishers, 2012.
Collections:Your library
Tags:romance, murder, family relationships

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The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann (2012)



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Morgan Spencer has built a name and a fortune for himself as the "success guru," turning floundering corporations into impressive profit-makers. Solutions are what he lives for--or used to. After the death of his wife Jill, he's now focused only on his two-year-old daughter Livie ... until he meets Quinn Reilly. A man from her past is out of prison, ready to exact revenge on her for putting him there. Drawn to each other despite themselves, Morgan decides to solve Quinn's problem and Quinn decides to let him. But is this the answer God wants for them? With so much grief in Morgan's past and so much betrayal in Quinn's, how can they find a path through the future together?

This is an unusual offering in the romantic suspense genre, more leisurely paced and driven wholly by the characters. But characters are why I read, and I'm an extreme fan of Kristen Heitzmann's. Morgan Spencer is on my Top Two Heitzmann Heroes list. This is the third book featuring him, though it can be read as a standalone.

Heitzmann has created in Morgan a unique and uniquely flawed hero, a man whose ego and self-loathing are barely balanced (or not so balanced at times), who begins this book wealthy and bereft, devoted and withdrawn. And no one creates character quirks better than Kristen Heitzmann. As much as I love Morgan for his nobility and his mistakes, I also love him for his fast driving and his panic attacks, his impeccable taste in fine dining and his refusal to eat whenever he's stressed, his love of a quiet California beach and his German metal music. He's so nuanced I want to go out into the world and meet him, because surely he exists out there.

Not to ignore Quinn. Morgan's layers probably only exceed hers because we've had three books with him. Quinn has her own contradictions and quirks--stubborn in one situation and yielding the next (but both reactions make sense for who she is), self-conscious about her short stature and unruly hair, terrified of horses and excited to go fishing, guarded out of necessity but yearning to be part of Morgan and Livie's lives.

I love this author for creating real, messed up, individual people rather than safe, sanitized types. Quirks and flaws are two ways she accomplishes this. The other is dialogue. Heitzmann's is witty but not too cool, confrontational but not forced, entertaining and poignant and wholly original. I could read 400 pages of "talking heads" from her and not mind in the least. I wouldn't even need tags to know who was speaking, since each of her characters possesses a distinct voice.

The secondary characterizations also deserve praise, most notably those recurring from the two previous books: Rick and Noelle, of course, but also Consuela, Celia, Livie, and others. Another bit of loveliness here is the setting. Colorado and California are both painted with vibrant detail, as are Morgan and Rick's respective homes. You can feel the opulence in the one and the rugged warmth in the other.

I love the tiny bites of truth found here as Quinn and Morgan work through what is either a God-ordained gift or a terrible mistake. There's Morgan's broken confession: "I don't know what God expects," something both he and Quinn must wrestle with in more than one area of their lives. There's Quinn's acknowledging the unhealthiness of their marriage, of Morgan's offering a physical relationship while his heart is still locked away from her: "It's backward." Morgan and Quinn fight and flail through the beginning of their relationship, and when God works something beautiful despite their fallenness, glory is given to Him.

I want to give this book five stars because all of the above demand four-and-a-half. The plot, though, toppled my suspension of disbelief several times. I simply can't fathom that any law-abiding person, even self-sufficient Morgan Spencer, would learn of Quinn's situation and not immediately call the police. But this option isn't even mentioned until after Morgan and Quinn are married. At least once, someone suggests calling the sheriff and is told not to, without a sensible explanation. The further Markham escalates with his threats, the more unrealistic it seems that no one involved with Quinn's dilemma thinks to involve law enforcement. Given Quinn's past actions, I might buy her reluctance, except she was never a suspect, and this still doesn't excuse everyone else. This questionable element might be less glaring if the entire plot didn't hinge on it, but it does. With police protection for Quinn, Morgan's solution wouldn't be necessary, and he and Quinn might never end up together.

That said, I love these characters enough to read this book again and again, never mind the wobbly setup. It's in the human moments, not the perilous ones, that this book shines; and in those moments it is a beautiful, bright star. Kristen Heitzmann remains one of my favorite authors, the creator of some of my favorite characters, a dialogue expert and master of character nuance. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
I debated a while on what to rate this book. If possible I think I'd go with 3.5 stars but most sites make you pick a whole number.

I have read and enjoyed other books by this author. None of those were the two previous books in this series though. The author did a fairly good job of making sure I could read this book without knowing the histories from the previous two books. Usually I can figure out the title's meaning by the end of a book. This one eludes me. My best guess is dawn being a new beginning--and new beginnings do apply, but I feel like there should be more than that.

The characters are complex. They have their flaws and foibles; they have their doubts that they have to overcome. I was drawn into the story.

Morgan Spencer is a widower with a young daughter. He starts the book basically living for his young daughter whom he is raising with the help of his brother and brother's family. Throughout the book, he learns to live and love again.

Quinn Erin Reilly is the daughter of a minister. She uncovered a scam that involved an associate minister (Markham Wilder) and somehow hid the money he'd collected from her father's congregation. At the beginning of the story, she's hiding from him. Telling someone else about this eventually frees her from her stalker. The plot also gives her love, acceptance, and a family.

Rayanne discovers the identity of her father and is able to meet him and interact with him.

There's a supernatural side to the plot also--both good and bad. There appears to be some evil presence in the cellar of Vera's house that some people experience and others don't. This presence is blamed for hauntings, a custodian burning his hand after feeling compelled to touch a boiler, and the burning down of the asylum that once stood where Vera's house is now. Markham claims to experience visions prior to this book (I'm not sure if those were contrived visions to perpetuate his con or if he really was having visions). But while he's at Vera's house, he appears to hear voices. He also discovers the LSD in a cabinet from the asylum-era and starts using that which causes hallucinations that he perceives as visions. On the good side, Quinn/Erin appears to experience God's peace and protection while she's trapped in the cellar by Markham.

My bigger concern though was the marriage of Morgan and Quinn/Erin. While I understand (and applaud) Morgan's refusal to go against his ethics and help Quinn/Erin get a fake ID or fake papers, the fact that he proposes a marriage of convenience instead bothers me. In one sense, I felt like he was taking advantage of Quinn/Erin's fear to get something from her. I was glad Erin refused it--though that didn't last for long. I'm worried that plot point might be used by some in real life to justify marriage for reasons other than love. Yes, it is true that in this fiction work, Morgan and Quinn/Erin do come to love each other and have a marriage in the way that marriage is intended (and Morgan even seems to feel that God pushed him to offer Quinn/Erin marriage because God knew the bigger plan included Morgan loving again)--but this is fiction. Real life isn't always so tidy. Marriage isn't something to be entered into lightly (IMO). And with this being a big plot point, it kept me from rating this book higher than I did. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Jan 31, 2019 |
I honestly almost didn't read this one because I thought Morgan has been tortured enough in books 1 and 2. I wanted to stay in the happy ending bubble at the end of book 2 ... Except the synopsis of this book told me that bubble bursts pretty quickly. And now that I knew that, it was going to bug me until I saw it through. And I'm so very glad I did! I really loved Celia's take on things - Morgan & Jill's love was brittle, built on what could have been. Didn't make it any less real but would have always been a struggle for them. With Erin, Morgan has a mature love that brings out the best in him, the parts that were buried for years. His redemption and healing have come full circle - this last book in the trilogy (that has really been his story all along) was refreshing, a breath of grace-filled air to inhale deeply as we watch him heal and become whole again. ( )
  MeezCarrie | Aug 31, 2015 |
The Breath of Dawn is romantic suspense with captivating characters and a plot that keeps readers in its clutches.

Female lead Quinn Reilly takes her business of estate buying and eBay trading seriously. But why is this diminutive but determined, independent, and conscientious 27-year-old living alone and is if on the run in a doll-house-sized cabin nestled in the mountains of Colorado?

Morgan Spencer, whom we see in the prologue roaring away from his infant daughter after his wife's funeral has moved from his California business headquarters to the Colorado ranch. There his brother Rick, wife Noelle and nephew Liam are helping him parent now two-year-old Livie.

Quinn and Morgan meet, there is chemistry between them but the story really heats up when Markham Wilder, a bad actor from Quinn's past surfaces after serving jail time because of Quinn's testimony against him. Heitzmann's description of the reptilian Wilder gave me shivers.

Though the book is long (448 pages) the story of the growth of Quinn and Morgan's relationship woven together with the ever-tightening noose of Quinn's past kept me reading long into the night.

In addition to spinning a captivating tale, Heitzmann addresses themes of trust (in people and God--beautifully illustrated by little Livie's trusting attitude and actions), family, prayer, faith and integrity.

The Breath of Dawn under the tree would be a great treat for the romantic suspense lover in your life!

I received this book as a gift from publisher Bethany House for the purpose of writing a review. ( )
  Violet_Nesdoly | Jan 4, 2015 |
A nice light read. Predictable but still enjoyable. ( )
  yonitdm | May 4, 2014 |
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But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.--Matthew 6:13 KJV
To Everleigh Grace, my joy and delight
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Seeing Morgan standing still as stone beside the freshly opened earth, Noelle St. Claire Spencer believed a man could shatter.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0764210424, Paperback)

Kristen Heitzmann Delivers Powerful New Romantic Suspense

Morgan Spencer has had just about all he can take of life. Following the tragic death of his wife, Jill, he retreats to his brother's Rocky Mountain ranch to heal and focus on the care of his infant daughter, Olivia. Two years later, Morgan begins to make plans to return to his home in Santa Barbara to pick up the pieces of his life and career.

Quinn Riley has been avoiding her past for four years. Standing up for the truth has forced her into a life of fear and isolation. After a "chance" first meeting and a Thanksgiving snowstorm, Quinn is drawn into the Spencer family's warm and loving world, and she begins to believe she might find freedom in their friendship.

The man Quinn helped put behind bars has recently been released, however, and she fears her past will endanger the entire Spencer family. As the danger heightens, she determines to leave town for the sake of the people who have come to mean so much to her.

Fixing problems is what Morgan Spencer does best, and he is not willing to let Quinn run away, possibly into the clutches of a man bent on revenge. But Morgan's solution sends him and Quinn on an unexpected path, with repercussions neither could have anticipated.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:19 -0400)

Fixing problems is what Morgan Spencer does best, but following the tragic death of his wife he retreats to his brother's Rocky Mountain ranch to heal and focus on the care of his daughter. Quinn Riley has been avoiding her past for four years, and when a Thanksgiving snowstorm brings her into the Spencer family's warm and loving world, she begins to believe she might find freedom in their friendship. But the man she helped put behind bars has recently been released, and is bent on revenge.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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