An effective mixture of Christian women’s fiction and contemporary romance with a dash of mystery, Night Songs by Jennifer Sienes is book one in The Bedford County Series. As such, I would note that this story does come to a conclusion without cliffhangers while leaving room for the stories of other characters to potentially be explored in future books. This resolution is an important feature in full-length novels within a series, in my own opinion and from my observations of reader reviews. Furthermore, Sienes consistently progresses toward the ending, giving it a realistic tone while also still keeping readers curious as to the outcome.
Night Songs offers an emotionally-rich, heartfelt story that gently infuses Christianity into the hardships of life. This is not your typical feel-good Christian fiction novel, and readers should be aware that the characters are faced with a range of real-life trials that may hit close to home, including grief and loss, regrets, and marital problems, to name a few. However, this is an entirely clean book, and Sienes handles all situations with grace, often adding humorous dialogue to alleviate tension. One of the main points in the narrative is that coincidences are God’s way of setting things into place, or as Darlene tells Charlie, “There’s no such thing as coincidences, Charlie. They’re God-incidences.” If, like Charlotte (“Charlie”), we stray from the Lord or outright forsake Him, He still keeps working to draw us back to Him, through the good and the bad.
Sienes employs a dual narrative to give readers insight into the backgrounds and thought processes of the major characters. Night Songs is related alternately by Charlie Van Cleave and Derek Daniels in the first-person, in the present day, interspersed with past-year snapshots in the third-person. This structure works well and is easy to follow thanks to clear designations and the personality differences between the characters. Poetic, figurative language highlights Southern dialect and truly takes readers into the narrative, but one of the best elements in the story is the honest portrayal of faith in Christ, with all its mountaintops and valleys, amidst the vicissitudes of life.
For fans of Kathleen Robison, Chautona Havig, and Susan Beatty, Jennifer Sienes’ Night Songs is a candid, witty journey through heartache and adversity to the healing and fulfillment found only in Jesus.