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Sounding Brass: A Novel [Paperback]

By Bates Shelley (Author)
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Item Description...
CLAIRE MONTOYA'S LIFE DOESN'T FIT HER ANYMORE. Brought up in a strict church in the small town of Hamilton Falls, Claire has seen disgrace fall on the leaders she trusted and watched her friends reject their faith. When Luke Fisher is invited to preach at one of their gatherings, Claire finds herself drawn to the handsome radio evangelist. She joins his radio station staff as a bookkeeper and, although she initially enjoys taking part in Luke's vision for the community, she begins to realize that certain things about this powerful personality don't add up. Complicating matters, investigator Ray Harper is hanging around the studio asking disturbing questions-and making an impression of his own on young Claire. Who is right: the nationally known evangelist or the suspicious cop? And more important, to whom can Claire trust her heart? In A SOUNDING BRASS, questions require answers of total honesty and an eye for eternal consequences. Will Claire find these answers-and love?

Item Specifications...

Pages   287
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.9" Width: 5.2" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 2006
ISBN  0446694924  
EAN  9780446694926  

Availability  14 units.
Availability accurate as of Mar 21, 2018 02:27.
Usually ships within one to two business days from New Kensington, PA.
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1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary   [79254  similar products]
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5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Fiction > General   [6034  similar products]
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Fiction > Romance   [837  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
3.5 stars - good, but not great.  Sep 14, 2006
"A Sounding Brass" picks up where Bates' previous novel, "A Pocketful or Pearls" left off, switching the main character from Dinah to Dinah's friend Claire Montoya, who is still in the clutches of the "toxic" church, the Elect.

"Brass" is not nearly as captivating "Pearls" was, although it continues and concludes the story of the Elect quite nicely. The content of "A Sounding Brass" is also no where near as racy as the preceding novel... and while I am not one who thinks that edginess is necessary to make a novel good, I think "Brass" lacks that certain dark intrigue that "Pearl" captured well. The story is unique, entertaining, worth reading, and over all a good book - but considering how fantastic "Pearls" was, I was a tad disappointed with "A Sounding Brass".

Grade: B-
An enjoyable finish to the Elect Trilogy  Jul 10, 2006
Shelley Bates, the author of POCKETFUL OF PEARLS and GROUNDS TO BELIEVE, finishes her Elect Trilogy with A SOUNDING BRASS, a competent, enjoyable read. It wraps up the story of the legalistic lives of members of the Elect, a cultic Christian group in Oregon that requires its adherents to wear black, seek permission for any big life decisions, and stay away from anything "worldly."

As the story opens, the Elect in Hamilton Falls, Washington, are in turmoil. Their leader, Phinehas, a former senior Shepherd of the flock, is in the county lockup awaiting trial for raping women who believed they were supposed to have sex with him in the name of their religion. Everything the Elect believed about its leadership is now in question.

Claire Montoya, a single bank employee who has just lost her job because of her association with the Elect, finds a new work home at the KGHM radio station as a bookkeeper. She's ready to succumb to the charms of the charismatic Luke Fisher, an evangelist and popular disc jockey at the station, whose good looks and winning ways over the airwaves are taking the locals by storm. Luke is also ready to help the congregation of the Elect to embrace some modern ways of thinking and reach out to the unchurched through financing a new conference center.

As Luke whips up enthusiasm and support for the project -- and the radio station rakes in more and more cash --- investigator Raymond Harper of the Organized Crime Task Force smells something rotten. As Ray cozies up to Claire in order to find out about Luke, he realizes he's interested in her for more than just her proximity to the boss. But after her change of job and the changes going on at church, Claire is reeling. "Between the teachings of the past and the changes in the present, she needed to find her balance. And that was turning out to be harder than she'd expected." She's attracted to both men. But Ray is an outsider --- and Luke is a member of the Elect. Or is he? And Ray is conflicted about his own lack of faith. "What he had was an emptiness he was trying to soothe with work and socializing and friends, covering it over with a cynical outlook on life so people wouldn't see it."

Claire is tired. Tired of letting others dictate where she lives. Tired of wearing black --- even down to her pajamas, which are black flannel. Bates gradually lets Claire come to grips with her disillusionment about her legalistic religion, while still keeping the core of her faith. Through Claire, Bates does a great job showing the perils of religion as practiced by those who love power and control, rather than embracing the true freedom of faith.

Readers of the earlier books in the series will be glad to catch up with Dinah Traynell and the resolution of her story. No particular earth-shaking plot twists or turns occur in the novel; the reader will have a good idea of where things are headed from the earliest pages. But that makes this story no less enjoyable. Bates is a good writer, and her characters are interesting ones who the reader will empathize with. (I would have enjoyed seeing even more about the bookseller and Claire's landlady, Rebecca Quinn, who makes some cameo appearances throughout the book.) There's some good discussable material here about the role of religion and choices in contemporary culture, and a reading group guide included in the back is a nice addition for book clubs.

Readers who enjoyed the Elect Trilogy will want to look for Bates's next book, OVER MY HEAD, which will be published in May 2007.

--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy at
Gotta Love It!  Jul 5, 2006
Heroines. We love `em all, and the best are those with whom we identify strongly. Does she feel as I do? Would I have the strength to face her trials? Gotta love `em. Bimbos, damsels in distress, rebels, forces of nature. The main character in this third novel in Shelley Bates' "Elect" series qualifies in the last category.

We're told today's heroine should be a kicker type. But you don't need to be Angelina-with-a-semi-automatic to be strong. It takes more strength to re-think everything that forms the framework of your life; to truly turn the magnifying glass on your own soul, to find yourself wanting, to change as you must--to survive. If you like a heroine like this, who must revamp everything she has ever been taught, about love, faith, and her place in life, Claire Montoya is tailor made for you.

A lifelong member of a "toxic" church, Claire lives in reluctant obedience to a set of rules whose senselessness would insult a child. After she's fired from her bank job, a newcomer--the bouncy, charismatic radio DJ who's advising her church on how to change--hires her on the spot to keep the station's books. Or is Luke Fisher all he seems? Detective Ray Harper, in town to see a rape case come to trial, smells something unsanitary in the eager-beaver Mr. Fisher, and stays to investigate. As he and Claire begin to click, he grows restive about his attraction for her. How can a man lacking faith make a match with a woman whose faith is her entire life?

With an unbeliever falling for her, and Luke's increasingly puzzling deployments of donated money, both men rock Claire's regimented world on its ear. As her outlook realigns, so does that of the Elect--can they be wrong about the nature of a faith-guided life, after all?

Shelley Bates tells the engaging story of a woman struggling to re-evaluate her faith. Though lacking the dark themes of the previous book, Pocketful Of Pearls, the journey is every bit as compelling. Claire's quiet, stark courage made her a winner beyond compare.

Five stars in my book.

Reviewed by Deb Kinnard
Perfect for a women's book group  Jun 20, 2006
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (6/06)

"A Sounding Brass" is a really good Christian fiction novel. It is written for everyone, and would even be appropriate for teenage readers. The story is engaging and well written so it can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life. The main theme centers around the corruption that is involved with a toxic church.

Claire Montoya is the heroine in this novel. She is involved in a cult-like, strict Christian sect. She finds the lifestyle to be suffocating, however, she stands firm to her beliefs and does not want to let the secular world drag her in. When the head of her church is arrested for sexually molesting a couple of female members, Claire's foundation is shaken and she begins to question her beliefs.

A non-Christian investigator arrives in town around the same time as a charismatic radio evangelist. The investigator tries to open Claire's eyes about the evangelist. The evangelist begins showing his true colors to her. Claire discovers that he is not a good man and is bilking the community out of money. The investigator, operating at his own end, discovers that this man has a really bad past and tries to intervene before he does any more damage. As the story progresses, Claire begins to step out of her pious shell and adopt more "normal" styles of dress, such as wearing clothing colored other than black. It is interesting to watch her develop into a more mature, confident woman.

I highly recommend this book to women's reader groups. There is a reading group guide in the back of the book that can be used to facilitate discussions. I read the questions before I started the book and they gave me a deeper perspective on what the story is really about.


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