Thursday, June 19, 2014

My review: Sanctuary Lost

Sanctuary Lost is the first book in Lisa Phillips' new series, WITSEC Town!  It is fast-paced, suspenseful, and full of twists and turns that will keep you up late, wanting to know what happens next!

U.S. Marshal John Mason gains full custody of his son and is transferred to Sanctuary, a WITSEC town that isn't on any map.  When the town's first ever murder occurs, John's plans to reconnect with his boy are derailed by the investigation.
Andra Caleri gave up her old life a long time ago, but someone wants her out of Sanctuary-to pay.
As accusations fly and John uncovers a conspiracy that stretches all the way to Washington, Andra's past comes back in a true test of the mercy she received.
Can John give up what he wants the most to bring the truth to life?

About the author:
Lisa Phillips is an ex-pat Brit who crossed the pond to attend Bible College.  She and her husband have two kids and lead worship together at their local church.  Lisa studied the craft of writing with the Christian Writers Guild and is a board member of her local ACFW chapter, Idahope Writers.  She can most often be found with a cup of proper tea and her nose in a book. 
Find out more at
(Description and author bio copied from back cover.  Cover photo from Barnes &

My review: 4 stars
Great start to a series!
Lost Sanctuary is the first book of Lisa Phillips’ new series, WITSEC Town. When I first heard about this series, I was very intrigued. It is about a town that the U.S. Marshals service created for those in witness protection. It is completely “off the grid,” no one knows about it, and is a lot like an old West town. When one of the residents is murdered, fingers are pointed and the new sheriff must find out who the killer is while fighting against biases, secrets, and pressure from all sides to make an arrest. Oh, and did I mention lack of evidence, no real resources, and the moonshine and weed problem? Sounds like fun, right?
This book started out a little slowly, but as I got to know the characters and figured out who was who in Sanctuary it picked up and became a quick read. I didn’t want to put it down! The mystery held my attention, with so many twists and turns, that just when I thought I knew who did it, another wrench would be thrown into the works and I would have to find a new suspect. And I was still wrong in the end! Which I actually really enjoyed. I love a book that can stump me and keep me guessing.
John Mason is our main character and hero. I wasn’t sure what to make of him at first. He really wants to be a good father to his son, whom he hasn’t seen in over a year. He also has to balance working on the murder case, protecting a suspect who all the town is convinced it guilty, along with taking care of his son. I felt his son got the raw end of the deal at times, because of how busy John was with everything else. John was an interesting character, though, and seemed very realistic. I really liked the voice Lisa gave him - he is honest, a little sarcastic, and strong. He stands up for what he believes in and for those he loves. 
Andra Caleri is the heroine. I really liked her character and was able to connect with her quickly. Like everyone in this town, she has a past, though hers is worst than most. Because of that past, she chooses a life of solitude and only has a couple friends, despite having lived in Sanctuary for 10 years. She is an anomaly to everyone in town and most of the town folks don’t like her simply because she doesn’t fit in. She is also strong, but it is a quiet strength that we learn comes from her faith in God. There were several times that I really wanted her to stand up and defend herself, but she didn’t. Instead, she trusted that God would fight for her.
I really enjoyed the spiritual aspect of Sanctuary Lost. Andra has such a strong faith, which contrasted with John, who has little to no faith. She has a better understanding than most of mercy and what it means to be redeemed, while John doesn’t like the word mercy because he felt mercy meant there was no justice. Andra’s struggles with her faith really hit home with me. She wanted to trust that God had a greater plan in everything that was going on, but at the same time, was concerned that His will might mean she faced Him a lot sooner than she hoped. I really like this quote, because it illustrates where John and Andra were spiritually, “She’d given God control of her whole life. Who just surrendered like that?” - John Mason, page 155 (quotation used with permission from the author)
I should probably now explain why I’m only this book 4 stars, instead of the 5 stars I would really like to. There were two things that bothered me. One, was that the romance seemed a little unbelievable. They only knew each other a short time and by the end of the book were talking about marriage. The other thing is that while Andra had this great faith, John’s was shallow. Even at the end, he only prayed in extenuating circumstances and still knew little about God. I’m hoping that if he is in the next books, Lisa will expand on that a bit more.
All that said, I am looking forward to the next book and am really excited to find out what happens next in Sanctuary!
I highly recommend this book if you enjoy fast-paced mystery and suspense!
I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to give a positive review and have not been compensated for it in anyway. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Thank you for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed my review and will consider buying a copy of the book when it releases June 30th!

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