Smoke Screen

by Terri Blackstock

Paperback, 2019



Call number



Thomas Nelson (2019), 352 pages


Fiction. Mystery. Suspense. Thriller. HTML: One father was murdered. Another was convicted of his death. And all because their children fell in love. Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado hometown. His mother begs him to come back now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn't until he's sidelined by an injury that he's forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too. Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher's daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between the Pastor and Nate's drunken dad was loud�??and very public. The Pastor was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Nate's father, Roy, of the murder. When the church burned down not long after, people assumed Nate set the fire to get even for his father's conviction. He let the rumors fly and left town without looking back. Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and now she's fighting a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he's using lies and his family's money to sway the judge. Brenna is barely hanging on. As Nate and Brenna deal with the present�??including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that's threatening their town�??the past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she'll have to learn to trust him again first. Full-length, stand-alone suspense novel Also by New York Times bestselling author Terri Blackstock: If I Run, Intervention, Cape Refuge, Aftermath Includes discussion questions for book cl… (more)


Original language


Physical description

352 p.; 8.4 inches


0310332591 / 9780310332596

User reviews

LibraryThing member alekee
The title the author gives this book is perfect, and shows up in more than one way, and it becomes crystal clear as you go further into this story.
There appears to be a lot going on here in this small Colorado town, but the action begins in another part of the state with smoke jumpers, and a
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horrible wild fire, lives are at stake here.
Things do not get more comfortable here, and there is a lot at risk, especially in the lives of young children.
You will be quickly immersed here, and you won’t want to put this one down until you know the answers

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Thomas Nelson, and was not required to give a positive review.
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LibraryThing member Virginia51
I loved learning about these special firefighters that fight by being dropped from planes in to the fires. Brenna and Nate each have many obstacles to overcome before they can help each other with there problems. Brenna May lose her children in a custody battle and Nate is trying to learn to
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forgive his father for many things that happened years before in his childhood. I did not want to put this book dow, I laughed and cried. I received a copy of this book from Celebratelit for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
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LibraryThing member Eamace
The author has once again done a masterful job of leaving you guessing throughout the whole book. I must admit I had decided the guilt lay with others before the actual perpetrator was discovered. Nate has been a Smoke Jumper for several years, in fact, he has his own crew to work with. The job of
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these professional Hotshots has much danger associated with it, but it is one that the world certainly cannot do without. While getting burned is not something that happens regularly, it can happen and the healing requires a great deal of patience.

Brenna is a single mother who is in an ugly custody battle. Unfortunately her faith, that has always been a strong point in her life, has left her with many doubts. Why is God out to get her? Why did He let her dad get murdered? Many questions but all seem to put the blame on God. But who created the distance? Once she realizes that this chasm is her own creation, she can start to bridge that gap. But will it be enough to maintain custody of her children?

I highly recommend this book! This ARC was received through Thomas Nelson, NetGalley and CelebrateLit. The comments and impressions are my own and were in no way solicited.
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LibraryThing member vintagebeckie
Terri Blackstock is a go-to author for me. Her suspense-filled novels always touch on the personal struggles of the characters while providing a mystery to solve for the reader. Smoke Screen is a little different from the usual Blackstock novels. There is definitely a mystery — the long ago
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murder of a pastor everyone thought was a closed case — but the tension, which is palpable from the first page, is mostly from the train wreck life of main character, Brenna. The suspense doesn’t come from car chases, sniper fire, or explosions, but from the very real and bad choices made by the characters. Years before, Brenna and Nate had a high school romance that had to be hidden from her family. When it was finally revealed, tragedy overshadowed the relationship. Brenna’s family was devastated, Nate’s father was convicted of murder, and Nate left town seeking to escape the stigma of his father’s crime and the whispers about alleged wrongdoing on his part. Years later, the two are reunited despite the odds of years apart and the objections of both families. Nate is determined to discover just who the real killer is while seeking to help Brenna battle alcoholism.

Brenna is a complex character — a good and loving mother, who turns to alcohol to numb the pain of a custody battle. I didn’t like her very much at first, but Blackstock allowed me to get into the head of this character. I began to appreciate the very real struggles she faced. Nate is a hero’s hero, although he never seeks the limelight. On the job as a smoke jumper and in his personal life as a friend, he goes above and beyond — you will love him! I didn’t have any trouble figuring out who was behind the murder, but there were a few twists on how it happened.

Not action-packed, but filled with raw emotion and tension, Smoke Screen will appeal to Blackstock fans as well as those looking for a story filled with real life situations.


Audience: adults.

(Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)
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LibraryThing member Becky_L
“Innocent until proven guilty.” If only those words were true for Nate Beckett, who left his high school sweetheart behind when Nate’s dad was accused of killing Brenna Strickland’s dad. When the church where Brenna’s father pastored burned down shortly after that, townspeople whispered
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Nate was responsible.
Terri Blackstock is one of the best voices in Christian suspense. I always start her books thinking, maybe I won’t like this one as much as her others. But each time Ms. Blackstock proves me wrong, whipping up the tension into high winds, my reading satisfaction spreading like wildfire as I navigate (in this case) through the very realistic, sad mess that two families have made of their lives once tragedy strikes. I loved the twists that Blackstock incorporates, as well as the strong, solid faith message she projects. Blackstock’s remarks about faith are clear and concise, not preachy. I questioned an event at the end, but then again, people can be unpredictable and don’t always make the decisions one might expect. If you love faith-filled suspense, this is a great book for you.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. This is no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own.
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LibraryThing member Stardust_Fiddle
Although many of the books I review fall into the historical fiction and nonfiction genres, I have always loved mysteries and suspense. I grew up with The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Mandie, so when a review opportunity for Christian suspense comes along, I don’t even have to
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think twice. I read Terri Blackstock’s “If I Run” series as it was released and enjoyed all three books, and I was excited to see “Smoke Screen” hit shelves. I was also happy to note that it does contain discussion questions at the end to facilitate conversation and reflection.

By the time “Smoke Screen” reached the top of my stack of books to read for review, I was ready to dive in. After reading chapter one, I began to doubt whether I was going to like this book. The mystery angle was fairly interesting, if predictable, but the family drama honestly grated on my nerves. Even though I’m not much of a romance reader, I did enjoy Brenna and Nate’s blossoming relationship. The firefighting aspect was informative and interesting to learn about. Nate was my favorite character not only because of what he had overcome since his teenage years, but also because of the way he overcame—by going to therapy and to church. Romans 8:37 rang in my mind: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Jesus has already won the ultimate victory, and when we ask Him into our hearts, that victory becomes ours, too, no matter what we face in this life.

Many of the reasons that I didn’t engage with this book as much as I was expecting to are my issues and not the author’s. Alcoholism and divorce both play a major role in this story, and I am not a fan of reading about either, but they are undeniably prevalent in society today, and Blackstock writes about these issues well and in a clean manner, which I think is so important. Brenna’s ex-husband and his family had me shaking my head every time they entered the narrative, which was no doubt the author’s intent. Blackstock creates convincing characters and situations that evoke empathy and are thought-provoking. By alternating between Brenna and Nate’s first-person viewpoints, she gives readers insight into how trauma affects our reasoning and our faith—sometimes for the better, sometimes not. I appreciated how, in one scene, Brenna helped Nate to see his mom in a different light. One particular conversation between them, though, really tugged at my heartstrings:
“But I’m not the same person I used to be. You probably won’t like me once you get to know me.”
“Oh, you’re still the same,” he said. “You’re just a little burned. But trust me. Burns heal.”

The underlying message of “Smoke Screen” is one of perseverance and hope, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. With a faith element that is gentle, this story speaks to the everlasting love of God and His pursuit of us, drawing us into relationship with Him and through the cleansing refiner’s fire.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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LibraryThing member fcplcataloger
This is a story of two young people whose love ended because of the objections of their parents but it is so much more. It is also a story of mistaken guilt, infidelity, a custody battle, and alcoholism. Author Terri Blackstock spins a tale filled with suspense and corruption and it is hard to put
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it down. Brenna Strickland Hertzog's fight to keep her children is a situation that happens much too often and I suffered along with her as she battled her ex-husband, his new wife, and her wealthy ex-father-in-law. As her life spirals out of control, Brenna seeks to numb herself with alcohol. Nate Beckett has returned to his hometown to recuperate from work injuries and as I learned more about smoke jumping, I could understand why all these brave people need to be named American heroes.

It soon becomes apparent that Nate's feelings for Brenna never really ended but Brenna's only focus is keeping her children with her. As Nate steps in to help, they both struggle and their faith is often tested. Author Terri Blackstock proves her amazing ability to show their doubts and uncertainties and we readers are reminded that God is ever present in our lives, even when we don't understand His plan and His timing. Brenna goes from a doubting belief: "The best I could do was hang on and pray like mad. But I doubted that God was listening to me anymore" to unwavering faith: "God had answered my prayers. He was still listening. He did care."

Smoke Screen is heartwarming, it is exciting, and it is inspiring. It is also a book that requires tissues--lots of tissues! I recommend it to all who enjoy romantic suspense and Christian fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. A favorable review was not required and all opinions are mine.
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LibraryThing member Harley0326
What an adventure this story is. It has all the element for a movie of the week with intrigue, secrets, deceit and high volume action. The story is not just about forgiveness but about learning to trust God. It was easy to like Brenna because even though she had flaws, she still tried to overcome
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her weaknesses. For years she has had to live with the death of her father who was murdered. I understood how hard it was to be a preacher's kid and knew her dating Nate went against everything her father believed in.

Nate is a wonderful character with a dangerous job as a smoke jumper. Can you imagine jumping from a plane into a blaze that was out of control? I enjoyed the turmoil between him and his father. We have often heard of people in prison who are innocent but cant prove it. Nate struggled with his dad being locked away for years knowing that he still doubted his dad's innocence. The author does an excellent job of writing scenes where Nate and his dad have to find a way to communicate again. What I liked was Nate's bravery in rescuing a family in danger of being in the line of a fire overtaking their home. Most people would have not gone back into the fire, but Nate wouldn't be able to live with himself he he didn't try to save them.

The relationship between Nate and Brenna is not welcomed by some and it took the story in a direction where we see how God works. Brenna is at a breaking point with fighting for custody of her children, coping with the release of her father's killer and maintaining a semblance of control in her life. There is much to learn in the story from how to treat an asthma attack, discovering secrets about a murder and learning to forgive. It is a fast paced story that will have you on the edge of your seat as secrets are revealed. I liked how Nate's father never gave up hope and drew closer to God during his time in prison. Nate and Brenna are dynamic characters each searching for truth and healing. Don't miss this story from a gifted author that delivers intriguing stories surrounded by faith.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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LibraryThing member hes7
Single mother Brenna Strickland struggles with alcohol as her ex-husband works to take everything she holds dear. Injured firefighter Nate Beckett returns home to recover—and reacquaint himself with his father, the man accused of murdering Brenna’s father. Family, reputations, secrets,
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jealousy, faith, romance, and truth all tie into the obstacles that Brenna and Nate must overcome, making for quite an emotional story.

Terri Blackstock’s Smoke Screen proves to be a quick, intriguing read. Getting to know Brenna and Nate is a pleasure (even as their circumstances—and choices, too, at times—frustrated me), making me want only the best for them. I just had to keep reading to find out where their story would go, and thankfully, its progression is quite satisfying.

I received a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.
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LibraryThing member lamb521
Title: Smoke Screen
Author: Terri Blackstock
Pages: 352
Year: 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Love…a good thing or the beginning of trouble? Well, in this fictional tale, two teenagers who are now adults feel they are to blame for the what happened in the past. Terri
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Blackstock takes audiences on a wild adventure of two characters named Nate and Brenna. Nate is a smoke jumper and a hero. Brenna faced the hardest thing in her life, divorce and now is fighting her ex for custody of their children.
Brenna is carrying an emotional load that is driving her to the bottle, and she wonders if her faith has any substance left. Now she is just trying to make ends meet while also fighting her ex in court over which parent the children will live with full-time. Behind her ex is his father who has much money and loves to bully.
Nate is recovering from wounds he suffered while on a mission to stop a fire raging in the forest. Nate and Brenna have a history, and while it might not be convenient it seems romance is once again aflame between the two. However, the cloud that hangs over them is their relation to a murder that happened many years ago but with a governor’s recent pardon stirs up old feelings from many people.
Each chapter alternates between Nate and Brenna which makes for fascinating reading as little clues are uncovered slowly. The author draws the readers emotions in to the pages and keeps them reading for hours until the very end. The tension between families, the mystery of the murder, the claim of innocence and trying to move forward with the past tenuously hanging to both Nate and Brenna makes for a wonderful work of fiction!
Grab a copy, get a hot cup of tea and a warm blanket! Wrap up and then be prepared to enjoy a suspense-filled tale that is sure to entertain for hours!
Note: The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.
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LibraryThing member SimplyKelina
I was sent this book from the publisher/publicity team. My ratings and reviews will be my own personal opinions and are in no way influenced by publishers or authors who may have sent me books to review.

I absolutely loved a previous series from the author and was really excited for her new release.
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I ended up DNFing this one though.

I ended up reading around 50% of this, and I just did not find myself caring for the story or the characters. For me, nothing was happening. I did not really care about Brenna and her ex-husband. I also did not really care to learn about what happened so many years ago. This was just not fast paced enough for me.

I even tried the audiobook with this one to see if that would help. The narrator did not distinguish her voice at all, and there were times I did not know if what was happening was with Brenna or Nate.

I am giving up on this one as it was not for me.
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LibraryThing member BeautyintheBinding
Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock surprised me. I’m normally not into crime-suspense-romance novels, but my local book club chose Smoke Screen as its monthly selection. I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed this novel. It has suspense, mystery, and the expected investigative aspect, but it
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also has emotional depth and character development.

There were so many things I liked about Smoke Screen. First, it hooked me right from the beginning and I didn’t want to put the book down. I read it in less than 24 hours! Part of its appeal lies in how much I could relate to Brenna. My children are the same age as hers are in the story and I couldn’t imagine going through what she did. Her raw, imperfect character felt very authentic as she struggled through a difficult divorce, personal vices, and spiritual wandering. Second, I love a good second-chance love story. While Brenna and Nate’s romance wasn’t the focus of the novel, I cheered for them to get together. Third, the challenging circumstances provided depth to the story. The novel doesn’t gloss over difficult family issues and dynamics, but every issue is laced with hope for the future.

I recommend Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock to readers looking for a captivating mystery filled with spiritual themes and character growth. It’s a keeper for my bookshelf!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.
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LibraryThing member TCJRogers
Smoke Screen is a story about Brenna Hertzog, a recently divorced mother of 2 young children, and Nate Beckett, a smokejumper who is recuperating from injuries sustained while fighting a fire. Nate returns home to the town of Carlisle, Colorado for some rest while he’s healing and is reunited
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with his former love, Brenna who in the midst of a custody battle with her ex-husband and his new, much younger wife. The two have a complicated past that has driven their families apart, and Brenna’s life seems to be spiraling out of control, until Nate steps in to remind her of her once-strong faith and of how strong she really is.
I really loved reading Smoke Screen. The story offers excitement, mystery, and unexpected twists, and it’s a touching example of second chances and redemption. I appreciated how the author incorporated Brenna’s struggle with alcohol, her need to medicate her pain, and Nate’s desire to help her, not enable her addiction, but also not be codependent and try to fix her. I found the struggle between Brenna and her ex-husband over the custody of the children to be especially compelling. As a mother, I could easily identify with Brenna’s need to protect her children at any cost. Overall, I felt the story was well-written and very enjoyable.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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LibraryThing member Melissa_O
I have been a big fan of Terri Blackstock books for a long time and Smoke Screen is a reminder of why.
She is a master of not only page-turning suspenseful plots, but also writing well-developed characters. Nate and Brenna, the main characters, were high school sweethearts that were driven apart
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when Nate's father was sent to prison for murdering Brenna's father. 14 years later, Nate's father has been pardoned and Nate also returns home. The big question all along is if Nate's dad didn't murder Brenna's father, then who did? Not only is the book suspenseful, but it also explores the themes of forgiveness, reconciliation, divorce, depression, and addiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers through Net Galley. Opinions stated in this review are completely my own.
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