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Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite
Ashley Hawthorne invites her readers into an unlikely Texan romance in Deliver Me. Mia Anderson, a young college student with a strong religious background, participates in a prisoner letter exchange program to make some inmates feel less lonely as endless hours tick away. Her letter lands in the hands of Gabriel Myers, a convicted criminal who murdered his father. Even though he tries to push her away, Mia’s insistence on friendship wins him over, and they form a platonic closeness that turns into a romantic exchange. When Mia sees an opportunity to get a reduced sentence for Gabriel, she encourages him to pursue the possibility.
Mia and Gabriel don’t form a socially acceptable attachment, but their love story is realistic and raw, leaving the reader fulfilled through their roller-coaster romance. Some degree of research went into the book as institutionalized behavior is conveyed thoroughly and the challenges an inmate faces in the penal system in Texas are well-defined. Ashley Hawthorne’s characters have depth and feel as natural as real people would, even through conflict. The entanglement between Mia and Gabriel isn’t the only taboo subject addressed as the book brings to light militant Christianity, forced abortion, homophobia, and the need for a more evolved justice system. Hawthorne draws each topic into her story naturally as she winds them seamlessly through the pages. The author adds just enough steam to her novel without over-elaboration, placing the reader in each scene. Deliver Me is a book I’ll recommend over and over to readers of romances who enjoy realistic stories with Southern roots.