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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Blood Orange by Brenda M. Spalding is a compelling novel that features a gritty tale of the war against drugs in rural Florida. The Medellin Cartel of Pablo Escobar is extending their reach and in 1986 the Florida orange groves become a drop zone for tons of illegal drugs. Sheriff Gabe McAllister has a lot on his plate and he is poised to fight back to protect his county from the scourge. Fighting by his side is the young Nora Hollister, whose anger and hatred for the cartel are deepened by the tragedy that has befallen her neighbor, thanks to the cartel. Even with the help of the DEA agents, can they pull this off? And what happens when working together ignites feelings of love?
There is a lot I enjoyed in this novel and the first merit of the story lies in Brenda M. Spalding’s gift for storytelling, the ability to build tension in readers by creating complex situations and a phenomenal conflict. The setting is captured in great descriptions and the reader has an idea of the landscape right from the beginning of the story. I couldn’t resist the characters, well-imagined and developed with skill and intelligence. I enjoyed seeing the sheriff work together with Nora, and it is interesting how the bond between them deepens as they explore strategies and face new challenges. Blood Orange is intelligently plotted, masterfully crafted, and infused with the emotional intensity that raises it to the standards of a page-turner. It was a satisfying read for me.