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Monday, January 12, 2009

Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing KISS Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009) by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy.

About the Authors

Ted Dekker is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), Obsessed, Renegade, and Chaos.


Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Gilbert Morris, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.

She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk." Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a Colorado-based consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She and her husband, Tim, are the proud parents of two children

About the Book

Let me tell you all I know for sure. My name. Shauna.
I woke up in a hospital bed missing six months of my memory. In the room was my loving boyfriend—how could I have forgotten him?—my uncle and my abusive stepmother. Everyone blames me for the tragic car accident that left me near death and my dear brother brain damaged. But what they say can't be true—can it?

I believe the medicine is doing strange things to my memory. I'm unsure who I can trust and who I should run from. And I'm starting to remember things I've never known. Things not about me. I think I'm going crazy.

And even worse, I think they want to kill me. But who? And for what? Is dying for the truth really better than living with a lie?

Sometimes dying with the truth is better than living with a lie.

After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion.

Her estranged father, a senator bidding on the White House, and her abusive stepmother blame Shauna for the tragedy, which has left her beloved brother severely brain damaged. Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it.

In this blind game of cat and mouse that stares even the darkest memories in the face, Shauna is sure of only one thing: if she remembers, she dies.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Kiss, go HERE

Watch the Video Trailer

What people are saying about Kiss:
“The human brain could actually be the real final frontier—we know so little about it and yet it drives the world as we know it. So when authors like Erin and Ted bravely explore these mysterious regions, going into complex places like memory and soul and relationships, I become hooked. The creativity of this suspenseful story is sure to hook other readers as well. Very memorable!”
~Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice and The Other Side of Darkness
“Dekker and Healy prove a winning team in this intriguing, imaginative thriller.”
~James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Try Darkness
“Kiss by Erin Healy and Ted Dekker is a superb thriller that hooked me from the first sentence. The original plot kept me guessing, and I may never look at a kiss the same way again. I’ll be watching for the next book!”
~Colleen Coble, author of Cry in the Night
“The writing team of Erin Healy and Ted Dekker has taken me through a page-turner with Kiss. It’s one of those books that you think about when you’re not reading it. I highly recommend it, especially if you don’t mind staying up late because you can’t put the book down!”
~Rene Gutteridge, author of Skid and My Life As a Doormat
My Review

I will admit upfront that this novel's cover art took me aback. The woman looks sensual and suggestive, and I thought, Is this a novel about kissing? Because if it is, I'm not going to be too thrilled. I was in for a pleasant surprise because the novel has little to do about kissing and much to do about suspense and recovering lost memories. I won't rehash the plot, which is already described above. I will also admit that I somewhat groaned at the amnesia story thread simply it's been done so many times by other authors. But this novel does offer a new twist.

I have to disagree with some other reviewers because this is not a typical Dekker novel. There was no crude language, edgy content, or push-the-envelope violence. There wasn't even a crazy, over-the-top ending. So no, this wasn't a typical Dekker. Even the writing style was different, and I attribute that to Erin Healy. I like her style. This is more of a conventional mystery involving uncovering secrets, murder, police investigation, and cat and mouse. SPOILER WARNING: The only ingredient that makes this novel stand apart from many similar mysteries is that the heroine has somehow attained an unusual gift for stealing memories. She can't remember the details of her accident and soon learns that the memories of others can help her unravel the truth. This intriguing concept takes a done-before amnesia story and makes it something else. Thankfully.

Shauna discovers this strange gift through a casual kiss with the boyfriend she can't remember. I'm glad this wasn't a torrid love scene. In fact, the focus was more on what happened as a result (the stolen memory) than on any passion she may have felt toward him. Shauna quickly learns that her gift extends beyond a kiss. It comes from physical touch and a sense of vulnerability on the part of the other person. So in this sense, the novel isn't about kissing at all. Once I realized this, I relaxed a bit (call me old-fashioned, but I don't get into kissy romances) and decided that the cover is somewhat (and thankfully so) deceptive.

One thing I didn't like was that Shauna's need to steal memories (a talent she explores throughout the book) causes her several times to be forward toward men. She's looking for the physical and emotional connection that causes her to have these memory-stealing experiences. But in order to do so, she must trigger something in the other person. The first time is a kiss. Later, it's as innocent as a casual touch on the arm. But before she masters the technique, she twice flirts with two different men. One is a reporter, and she just comes out and asks him to kiss hers. What is the guy supposed to think except that she's interested in him? I understand Shauna's need to remember, but this technique seemed pretty manipulative to me—I mean, leading a man on just so she could get her memory-stealing fix? In a couple of other scenes, she puts her hand on another man's knee to try to trigger the memory-steal. What was the man supposed to think when she was coming on to him? I must be honest that I kept thinking of pragmatism each time she used this tactic. Her actions were apparently okay as long as she got the result she was looking for.

This qualm aside, I still enjoyed the novel a lot, though I thought the details at the end were a little confusing with perhaps too much to wrap up too quickly. The ending also felt a little flat and conventional; I guess I was expecting something surprising to happen. On the other hand, the writing and pacing were topnotch. I liked the different writing voice and style, which I attribute to Erin Healy. How much did Ted really have to do with this novel? I'm not sure, but I will say that I didn't see much of him here (based on the many of his novels I've read). Or if it was him, he was definitely going in a different (and pleasing) direction on this project.

As far as spiritual content, the heroine seemed to have some understanding of God but had drifted away from Him years ago. In a nice scene, her maid tells her that God can use our memories (and hurts) to mold us into the people we're supposed to be. Shauna seemed pretty conflicted through most of the story and didn't show much faith in her lifestyle. She kept breaking the law and lying. But by the end, it became clear that she was finally recovering a faith she had forgotten. So in that sense, I thought the faith elements were so-so and could have been stronger. But I have to praise Dekker and Healy for at least incorporating some faith elements into the story. So much Christian fiction these days seems to steer clear of any overt faith message, so this was nice to see. Overall, this novel was a worthy read, and I'm glad I read it.

1 comment:

  1. I pick up maybe 5 to 6 books a year to read, but I got a copy of Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy. It is I have to say a great read. Dekker’s work is always good but with first time author Healy, this book is outstanding. I had to make myself put it down because I was not doing any work at my office (I was getting stares from my coworkers). The website for the book is and you can download the first two chapters there.