Tyndale House Publishers
C.J. Darlington’s Bound by Guilt is an intriguing story about forgiveness, hope, and developing family unity. Roxi Gold is a teenager struggling with her mother’s abandonment and trying her best to make others proud of her, even if it means breaking the law. Abby Dawson is a suspended police officer, who has tense or broken relationships with nearly all of her family members. When the one person in her family she is close to is murdered, she becomes determined to catch the killer. The lives of these two women are thrown together through tragedy, but it is through this tragedy they find freedom from the guilt that holds them back and obtain love from people they would not expect to care for them.
Bound by Guilt switches between the perspectives of the different characters, but Roxi and Abby remain the primary figures throughout the novel. Darlington’s writing style—with short paragraphs and fast-paced sentences—makes for quick and easy reading, and she especially shines in scenes of action and suspense.
After being shuffled from one foster home to another, Roxi finds herself living with her mother’s cousin Irene and Irene’s son, Diego. The three travel for months at a time, stealing rare books and selling them for profit. When one robbery goes terribly wrong, Roxi runs away, unable to keep going as if nothing has happened. She eventually finds herself in the small town of Elk Valley, where a ranching couple, Jan and Keith, allow her to work for them. Meanwhile, Abby learns of her brother’s tragic death and travels home to face her emotionally distant father and meet her brother’s fiancée, Christy. Roxi launches her own investigation into her brother’s death, determined to find his murderer.
Roxi is a determined, hard worker who wants more than anything to be loved and to know what a real family is like. But she is held back from getting close to people because her past has distorted her ability to trust others. She is haunted by the memory of the tragic accident that put her on the run.
Abby feels like a failure as a wife, mother, and police officer. She feels as though she has to prove herself to everyone, and with her brother’s death, she is even more alone in the world. Her search for the truth helps her to bond with Christy and learn the beauty of mercy over vengeance.
Bound by Guilt is an exciting and uplifting story that shows there is hope even in the darkest of lives. Despite using a few outdated references that a sixteen-year-old Roxi likely would not know, Darlington effectively communicates this intriguing adventure with fast-paced action and heart-warming community. Her characters draw the reader into their lives, but some of the minor characters leave room for further development. Overall, Bound by Guilt is a thrilling tale that explores the emotional chains that keep so many people from living in freedom. – Laura A. Coulter, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Roxi Gold has been shuttled from one foster home to another for most her life. She longs for a family and will do anything to fit in even if it's against the law. Soon she's traveling the country in an RV, stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. She knows it's wrong, but if she refuses, she'll be put out on the streets.
Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society, and not just at work. Her ex-husband wrested her daughter away from her in a bitter custody battle. The job she once loved has become a chore, the world isn't any safer, and there's no joy in her life. One fateful night a man's innocent blood changes both Roxi's and Abby's lives forever. One searches for justice; the other finds herself on the run until a first edition of The Great Gatsby catches up with her. Will the power of forgiveness set them free, or will they both remain bound by guilt?