Shelleyrae at Book'd Out's Reviews > A Promise of Safekeeping

A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale
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Oct 31, 2011

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bookshelves: netgalley-reviews
Read from December 30 to 31, 2011 — I own a copy

I enjoyed A Promise of Safekeeping, the first novel I have read by Lisa Dale. The premise is an interesting one with themes of forgiveness, truth and moving forward.
Lauren Matthews is on the cusp of achieving her life long dream to be named a partner in a prestigious jury consulting firm when she begins experiencing heart problems. She is convinced the cause is the recent exoneration of a man she helped convict for murder and if she is able to apologise the symptoms will disappear. Arlen Fieldstone is not willing to forgive the prosecutors error, he has lost nine years of his freedom, his wife and his dreams. He is a still a prisoner of his experience, hiding in the small flat above his childhood friends antique business. Will knew his best friend could not have been responsible for the murder of a senator's wife and hopes Arlen will be able to rebuild his life. He wants to hold Lauren responsible, but the ruthless and cold lawyer he sees on television is in reality a warm and vital woman. Arlen and Will are wary of Lauren but perhaps letting go of their anger will be the first step towards healing for all of them.

While I admired Lauren's desire to apologise, her motives seem a bit naive for an accomplished officer of the court. The author explains Lauren's drive to seeking forgiveness is rooted in her brother's brushes with the law and her professional pride in her ability to read people. As a body language expert (think TV show, Lie To Me) Lauren is appalled that the case that kick started her career was a sham and despite the relentless pressure as she strives to make partner and a recent relationship break up, Lauren is certain that her health crisis is caused by her role in Arlen's incarceration and only apologising will make it stop. Lauren's self imposed break from her work and routine, and a developing relationship with Will, leads her to reexamine her life. In her own way, she has been imprisoned by her own expectations and those of her family, and she is surprised to find herself reconsidering her future.
I strongly sympathised with Arlen's feelings of disorientation and depression upon being released from prison. Nine years is a tremendous amount of time to have lost and for Arlen it was compounded by the divorce from his wife and the loss of his mother while he was falsely imprisoned. That he had no desire to hear Lauren's apology or justifications was perfectly understandable, even though his anger and resentment left him mired in fear and hopelessness. I was glad when he was able to consider moving forward and take steps towards reclaiming his life.
As Arlen's self proclaimed champion, Will is initially as angry at Lauren and the injustice she had a part of as Arlen is. However Will is an intelligent man and he realises that though Lauren may have been the public face of the trial, she cannot be held solely responsible for Arlen's conviction. Will is not willing to let her off lightly though and accepts her offer to help him 'pick' for a few days in exchange for considering smoothing the way between Lauren and Arlen. Will has secrets of his own though and Lauren's ability to know what people think they are successfully hiding concerns him. He is surprised however to discover an attraction to Lauren and despite his best intentions, and at the risk of betraying his best friend, a relationship develops.
In a dramatic conclusion to the novel, the tenuous links between the three protagonists, Lauren, Arlen and Will, are cemented when a stranger decides to hold Lauren to account for her role in exacting justice. It's an unexpected ending though one that reinforces the themes of the story.
A novel about forgiveness and redemption with interesting and well developed characterisations, A Promise of Safekeeping is a satisfying read.

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