Title: A Promise of Safekeeping
Author: Lisa Dale
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Lauren Matthews is in Richmond, Virginia, far away from her home in Albany, New York. She’s temporarily left her job, her family, and her friends behind for one very good reason: Arlen Fieldstone. Nine years ago, Lauren became a star by prosecuting a case against Arlen and putting him behind bars. But now, it turns out he’s innocent. Lauren wants nothing more than to apologize to Arlen, but that means getting through Will Farris, Arlen’s best friend.
A Promise of Safekeeping has a very interesting premise: a woman who is torn by guilt over her part in sending an innocent man to prison. Though it wasn’t really Lauren’s fault Arlen was wrongfully convicted – she was just doing her job – she still feels the need to at least apologize for her part in it. This shows Lauren’s integrity, that she isn’t afraid to admit that she’s wrong. As a result, she appeals to the reader from the very beginning of the novel.
As Lauren waits for Arlen to allow her to speak to him, she begins spending time with Will Farris, who is an antiques dealer. She helps him out with some jobs, and their mutual attraction is evident from the beginning. This aspect of A Promise of Safekeeping didn’t appeal to me. It was given too much time in a story with a lot of very interesting, competing plotlines, and it seemed as though other storylines were dropped to give the romance more attention. Additionally, it read a sort of “forbidden attraction” type romantic storyline, which seemed more apropos for a romance novel than for this book.
Indeed, A Promise of Safekeeping has many plotlines which are fascinating, but sadly underdeveloped. Will has issues that don’t come to light until the very end of the novel, and even then, not more than a few lines are given to them. It would have been great if this could have been more fully explored over the course of the book. Additionally, Lauren experiences a crisis of confidence in her chosen occupation as the novel progresses, and it would have been nice to read more about this. There were many opportunities for development in the book, and I wish more of them had been explored.
Still, A Promise of Safekeeping has a great starting point, and Dale’s commentary on the difficulty of adjusting to regular life after spending so much time behind bars is wonderful. Poor Arlen was innocent, yet he doesn’t have a place in the world anymore; it has moved on without him. This storyline was well done and would make the book a thoughtful book club pick. It will be interesting to see what issue Dale tackles in her next novel.