A Touch of Betrayal (2000)
Author: Catherine Palmer
Genre (and Subgenre): Romance/Gentle/Christian
Catherine Palmer’s A Touch of Betrayal (alternately titled The Treasure of Kilimanjaro) is the third volume in HeartQuest’s Treasure of the Heart series. These books focus on the adventurous lives of three siblings and their experiences in Africa. A Touch of Betrayal introduces us to Grant Thornton, a cultural anthropologist who lives in Kenya studying the folkloric traditions of the Maasai people. Up to the point of going to the Nairobi airport to pick up his adopted African mother Mama Hannah, Grant has lived the solitary, bachelor lifestyle with Kit Kat bars for dinner and seven socks to his name. Enter, Alexandra Prescott, a young, successful and beautiful heiress from New York City. Alexandra has come to Kenya for rest, relaxation and hopefully the inspiration she needs to design her latest fabrics line. Arriving at the airport and finding the car to her hotel absent, Alexandra must depend on the kindness of Grant and his mother. At first she finds Grant disheveled and possibly dangerous, but is reassured by the presence of his mother and even more so when she finds out that Mama Hannah is a fellow Christian. After Grant and Mama Hannah deposit Alexandra at her hotel, they say their goodbyes and are on their way. Alexandra continues her tour and spends the night at an isolated lodge near the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. While at the lodge Alexandra receives a mysterious telegram notifying her that her account in the U.S. is overdrawn hundreds of thousands of dollars. Worried and unable to reach the old family friend in charge of her stocks, Alexandra lets down her guard and reluctantly submits to the company of a man that approaches her at the pool. Nick Jones seems to know quite a lot about Alexandra for someone that has never met her, and he overpowers her and drags her into the bush to kill her. Alexandra manages to get away and the next day finds herself lost in the desert until meeting a young boy that saves her from a pack of wild dogs. Ironically, the boy leads her to his village and one of the tribesmen speaks English and also knows Grant Thornton. With her condition deteriorating after such a traumatic experience, Alexandra is taken to Grant’s came where he and Mama Hannah nurse her back to health. Mama Hannah and Alexandra share a strong connection that is in part due to their love of God. However, Grant and Alexandra feel as though they are each from different worlds, his minimalist lifestyle a definite clash with her urban one. Grant is a nonbeliever, and Alexandra has surrendered herself to God. With time Grant and Alexandra grow quite fond of each other, and their affection is encouraged by the Maasai people as well as Mama Hannah. SPOILER After a second attempt is made to take her life, Alexandra is in grave danger. She discovers that her stock broker has been stealing money from her and hired Nick Jones to kill her in order to cover up his embezzlement. Unable to leave the country until the hit man is caught, Alexandra and Grant decide to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro. Grant is coming to terms with God and his feelings for Alexandra and upon reaching the top he reveals to her that he is willing to surrender and be a believer. Just as those words are spoken Alexandra is shot by Nick Jones, who has climbed the mountain posing as a tourist. Alexandra is rushed to the hospital by helicopter, but because there is not enough room Grant must stay behind. Grant and his Maasai friends track down Nick Jones and turn him in to the authorities. Alexandra must be flown back to the U.S. for surgery and it seems she will never see Grant again. Grant comes to her from Africa and asks her to marry him. They return to Africa to be married and live happily with their love for God and each other.
Geographical Setting: Kenya (various cities and camps)
Time Period: contemporary (2000)
Series: Treasures of the Heart # 3
This Christian novel moves at a very fast pace, while also maintaining its commitment to Christian themes and morals. Due to the fact that Alexandra is being chased by a hit man, there are several suspenseful scenes, with lots of action and dialogue, where she and Grant must evade the killer. Readers will like the excitement that these scenes add to the story because Alexandra’s resilience is rooted in her faith. The descriptions of place and atmosphere are well-developed because they depict the land of Kenya and its people in great detail. From these descriptions readers get a real-life view of Kenya, from its cities to is countryside . Readers will also find appealing the inner struggles of the characters that are central to the novel. The two main characters, Alexandra and Grant are easy to relate to, though Alexandra’s problem with the hit man may seem rather unrealistic. However, the doubt and fear that Alexandra must overcome will be inspiring, such as getting away from the hit man and accepting that her trust was broken by someone she cared about. A strong female character, throughout these hardships Alexandra’s faith in God never wavers and seems to strengthen her resolve. Also, Grant’s struggle to accept his feelings for Alexandra and to understand his relationship with God may also be of interest to readers. Coming to terms with his beliefs and becoming a Christian with Alexandra and Mama Hannah’s help lends a hopeful finish to this novel. Readers will enjoy how Grant and Alexandra come together, even though it seems that they may not. Though the characters triumph in this novel and live happily ever after together, faith-based readers will enjoy the clear message that none of it would have been possible without a strong relationship with God.
Read-alikes: A Kiss of Adventure or The Treasure of Timbuktu by Catherine Palmer. Readers who enjoyed the third novel in the Treasure of the Heart series will not want to miss the other novels in the series. The first novel tells the story of Grant’s sister Tillie, who goes on a treasure hunt with adventure with Graeme McLeod. Readers will recognize a strong female character that must overcome incredible odds and danger, like Alexandra Prescott, in order to stay alive. Like with Alexandra, Tillie’s faith in God is central to her survival. The fast pace of this novel as Graeme and Tillie struggle to find the treasure will be appealing to readers that also enjoyed the fast pace of Alexandra and Grant’s struggle to escape the hit man. The book also contains the vivid details of Africa that were found in A Touch of Betrayal, combined with an unlikely romance between two characters that develop a newfound bond with each other and with God. Also of appeal to readers will be Blue Moon, third in the Moonstruck series by Linda Windsor. This book also features a female character, Jeanne Madison, a young archaeologist who is searching for sunken treasure in Mexico. As the treasure hunters attempt to find the treasure before another unsavory character does, the plot moves fast and is action-packed as the characters struggle in their hunt. Jeanne is also able to use her faith in God as strength to find the treasure before someone else does, much like Alexandra evades the killer Nick Jones. Readers will also appreciate the importance of place in this novel, which takes place in Mexico and shares the exotic descriptions of Africa present in A Touch of Betrayal. The element of an unlikely romance is also present in this book, where the male/female main characters seem determined to resist the forces pulling them together but ultimately must surrender to their love for each other and for God. Another good suggestion is Dee Henderson’s True Courage, the fourth novel in her Uncommon Heroes series. FBI agent Luke Falcon must hunt down his wife and son’s kidnappers. This story line makes the plot fast-paced with many twists, much like A Touch of Betrayal, where characters in both novels must deal with dangerous and unsavory characters in order to survive. Readers will also recognize the importance of the inner faith of the characters because the difficult situations require them to call upon their faith for strength and solidarity. Another good suggestion is Judith Pella’s romantic mystery Blind Faith in the Portraits series. Single mother Irene Delaney searches for the truth behind her ex-husband’s mysterious death. Readers will appreciate this strong female character because she is forced to undergo the anguish of her ex-husband’s death as well as the pain of trying to solve his murder. Readers will also recognize the strong connection between characters, as Irene and attorney Joel Costain are brought together by their search for a murderer. In this fast-paced mystery, because the characters are on a dangerous hunt to solve the case, Irene and Joel are brought together through their shared interest in finding justice, and the divine power of God. Readers will enjoy Private Justice by Terri Blackstock. Elements of mystery and intrigue are also found in this novel as a serial killer murders firemen’s wives in a Louisiana town. This story involves a fast-paced plot as the town scrambles to protect itself from the serial killer. Firefighter Mark Branning fears his estranged wife may be next and goes to her aid. Readers will recognize how the inner struggles of the characters are central to the story, as Mark and Allie come to terms with their troubled relationship with each other and with God. The second book is A Whisper of Danger (2000) (previously released under the title The Treasure of Zanzibar). The fourth book in the series is Sunrise Song (2005). Each of the books in this series deal with the life of one of the Thornton children. Readers who are interested in another Christian Fiction romance title, but wouldn't mind it being more humorous could be intrigued by Liz Curtis Higgs's book Mixed Signals (1999). Mixed Signals is a novel about a Christian woman looking for love. A reader who is looking for a Christian Fiction novel that isn't as gentle as A Touch of Betrayal might try Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love (1997). Be careful, this novel touches on the darker issues of prostitution, incest, abuse, and rape. A reader who is looking for an inspirational story about a family instead of a single person, might be interested in Lynn N. Austin's novel Eve's Daughters (1999). This is a story about five generations of women and what harm a secret has done to their lives. Maybe a reader is looking for a Christian romance about an adventurous woman. Karen Rispin's book Summit (2006) offers both love and thrills in this book about a woman who rock climbs.
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