Book Review: Bella Maura by Dawn Dyson

9003854Title: Bella Maura (Beautiful Justice #1)
Author: Dawn Dyson
Genre: Spiritual, Christian Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Publisher: Creation House
Rating: 4,5 stars
Review copy provided by the author.
Goodreads | Author’s Website

How far would you go to protect the ones you love?
When novelist Sienna Emory decides to come to the aid of an old college friend, she finds more than she bargained for. Not only does her friend Cheney have a full-blown drug addiction, she also has an endearing ex-husband who is still trying to help her. An unlikely match, Sienna and Jonathan soon become close. Jonathan’s five-year-old daughter seems to be the answer to Sienna’s prayers. Never able to have children of her own, Sienna is overjoyed at the prospect of finding a mate in Jonathan and a daughter in little Bella. But Cheney is not a typical friend and Bella is not a typical little girl.
Join Sienna and Jonathan on the discovery of Bella Maura’s sprirtual gift. It will lead them, and you, from America to Jonathan’s hometown in Ireland, where the gift is perceived as a curse that has tormented the Driscoll clan for centuries. Will Sienna and Jonathan help Bella use it for the good?

I have to admit that I’ve hardly read any Christian Fiction, and that I usually shy away from the genre. Bella Maura is the exception to the rule, the novel I simply couldn’t resist even if it wasn’t in a genre I usually read or am very fond of. I’m glad I made the exception, I’m glad I gave Bella Maura a chance, because it certainly does not dissapoint.

Sienna is a renowed novelist, and ‘foster parent’ for ‘her girls’, homeless or abused young women she takes into her home and makes a part of her family. Since she’s a very generous, compassionate and loving person, she naturally comes to the aid of her old college friend, Cheney, when the latter calls and asks for her help. But Sienna has no idea of the mess she’s gotten into. Cheney has no intention of really recovering whatsoever, and like her drug addiction and alcoholism isn’t bad enough, Sienna also discovers that she has a daughter she’s been avoiding for years. When Sienna gets to know Cheney’s neighbour and friend, Jonathan, it doesn’t take her long to figure out that Jonathan is the father of the daughter Cheney abandoned: Bella Maura.

Unable to have children herself, Sienna immediately feels a strong connection to the young girl. And when Sienna and Jonathan’s relationship blossoms, she ‘adopts’ Bella Maura as her own daughter. But unfortunately, there are still some troubles ahead. Cheney is struggling her addiction in a rehabilitation centre, someone is leaving weird notes for Sienna, and Bella has a special talent to connect with God that could end in disaster.

Dawn Dyson has an amazing writing voice. She writes descriptions with such delicate care, each word of the sentence holding a special meaning, and each sentence as mesmerizing as the one before. She is truly a master of words, and the way she crafts her words, sentences and paragraphs into this great, meaningful and amazing story, is nothing short but a miracle. Her writing style totally charmed me, overwhelmed me even, and left me very impressed. She puts grave thoughts, and life-altering questions in her novel with such ease that I, as a reader, was hardly surprised by all the questions this book kept asking me.

Bella Maura asks questions about the meaning of life, about the existence of evil, about the goodness of another person’s heart, about spirituality, God, and more things that we hardly stand still to think about, but are important parts of our day-to-day life. We deal with good and evil on a daily basis, yet we never stop to think about the very nature of good and evil. And the thing with Bella Maura is that, where in other novels I might be repulsed by such questions, and disregard the novel as being either too spiritual or too difficult and nerve-wrecking to continue, now I didn’t. The beautiful narrator’s voice, the distinctive and recognisable characters, the undeniable sense of love that this novel radiates, is more than enough to keep on reading, to ask yourself the questions this book challenges you to ask, and to do all of that without even a hint of annoyance. Bella Maura doesn’t just force its readers to continue reading, to turn page after page after page eagerly anticipating what’s coming next – it also challenges its readers, dares them to think out of the box, to think about their own part in life, their own connection to God, to define what is good and what is evil. That’s pretty much what all great books do, and Bella Maura truly is a great book.

The main characters, Sienna and Jonathan, share this amazing love connection that makes me believe there’s still hope for all of us. Their love is strong, both on an emotional and day-to-day level and on a higher, spiritual level. From the first moment they meet, they are drawn to each other with a force that cannot be explained any other way then that they’re soulmates. Both are charming, loving, caring, compassionate and giving so much for others that they often forget all about themselves. They are both very inspiring, and although their romance might start off a bit like a whirlwind, and I’ve always had some trouble grasping the whole ‘falling in love with each other in a day or two’ issue, but nevertheless, Dawn Dyson succeeds in making their relationship convincing, heartfelt and adorable.

I also really loved the other characters: Bella Maura, Jonathan’s little girl with a special talent and a deep connection with God and the world around her, the girls Sienna took into her home and looked after, and even Cheney, Sienna’s old college-friend who is now a drug-addict and alcoholist. The personalities of all characters were very well described throughout the novel, and I had the feeling I got to know all of them by the end of it. My heart went out to Sienna, and to ‘her girls’ for overcoming abuse, and for still being able to live, laugh, care and love. They were really a family, despite all their different backgrounds, thoughts and opinions, and it was really heartwarming to see their interactions.

From the suburbs of America to the shores of Ireland, this novel offers a plotline that is as divers and intense as its characters, a fast-paced adventure and a  journey of self-discovery, and acceptance that there is something greater than us all.

As I already said, Dawn Dyson is not afraid to touch some sensitive topics, and to ask her readers some valuable questions, but she does so with the support of an amazing cast of characters, and a strong and suspenseful plot. Bella Maura will both amaze and surprise you.

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