Pocketful of Pearls
by Shelley Bates

Warner Faith, Time Warner Book Group, 2005. ISBN 0446694916.
Reviewed by Denise McAllister
Posted on 10/24/2005

Fiction: Romance

Most of us enjoy a good love story, don't we? Well, in Pocketful of Pearls, Shelley Bates gives us a very good one—but with a twist. Bates has thrown in a misguided religious cult for the heroine to be raised in. We can watch her grow and change as she questions all that she has taken for granted to be the only true way of life. Add to that mix a mysterious stranger who delicately informs her of a whole other world out there, and we have the recipe for an enthralling love story. But it's even more than that.

Pocketful of Pearls had me hooked from the very first page when the mysterious stranger appears as a hungry vagrant at Dinah's back door. She is tending to guests inside who have come to pay their respects after her father's funeral. Talk about timing. Although Dinah is not supposed to talk to anyone outside her religious group, something deep in her heart tells her to help a hungry, road-weary soul.

The author weaves a fascinating tale. Along with a hint of romance, Bates takes us to a deeper spiritual level. The stranger, on a journey of his own and with no hidden agenda, leads Dinah to find the true love of God. Bates also explores sexual and spiritual abuse—difficult topics but realities in our world. Throughout Dinah's journey, readers will cheer her along the way while hoping she will make the right choices and not give up.

Bates has done an excellent job of bringing together different characters within a theme of truth, discovery, and love. The surprises and twists in this novel will keep readers turning the pages.

Where did she come up with the title, Pocketful of Pearls? Read Matthew 7:6.

You can find more information about this author on her website.

Bates has a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. She sold her master's thesis to Harlequin after she graduated in 2002, and it subsequently became a double finalist in the 2004 National Readers Choice Awards.

Grounds to Believe, her debut novel from Steeple Hill Books and the first book in her Elect Trilogy, won the grand prize in the Lagniappe for Literacy national fiction contest and is a 2005 finalist for the prestigious RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America. The second book in the trilogy, Pocketful of Pearls, was released from Warner Faith, and the last book, A Sounding Brass, will be out in August 2006.

Bates is a freelance editor in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and enjoys playing the piano and Celtic harp, making historical costumes, and "spoiling her chickens rotten."

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