All's Fair

LDS Title

Political campaign expert Kristen Shepherd excels at staying cool under pressure, but this time she's in over her head. After leaving her high-profile fiancĂ© at the altar, she uncovers the shocking truth about the man she nearly married — truth that could ruin her life. With the press on her tail, the only person she can trust is Ryan Jameson, her political opponent and former boyfriend.

Army doctor and LDS convert Brandon Shepherd shares his sister Kristen's talent for keeping a level head, and his newfound faith gives him steady strength during times of turmoil. But when he and fellow doctor Rachel Fields are seized as Iraqi prisoners of war, he faces a crisis of personal integrity that may cost him his life.

In this gripping tale of unlikely heroes and unexpected romance, two siblings must risk everything for freedom. And in the heat and sand of enemy territory, they discover that all's fair in love, even if not in war.

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Select Reviews of All's Fair

Meridian Magazine Review by Jennie Hansen

All's Fair by Julie Coulter Bellon has one of the most exciting covers I've seen on an LDS novel and the story is pretty exciting too. Though the story begins with an almost cliché romance scene featuring a bride, Kristen Shepherd, fleeing the church and leaving her would-be groom waiting at the altar then being rescued by her childhood crush, I wouldn't classify this novel as a Romance. It's romantic suspense, true, but with the emphasis on suspense. Male readers are going to love it as much or more than female readers.

Brother and sister, Brandon and Kristen, are the leading characters. Their stories run concurrently with Brandon an Army doctor in war-torn Iraq and Kristen a political campaign expert in Massachusetts and Washington D. C. Kristen has serious doubts about her former fiance's integrity and suspects he and his ex-wife are not only still involved with each other, but may also have terrorist links. The only person she trusts is the campaign manager of her candidate's opponent. Brandon is also dealing with trust issues and a terrorist plot as is the woman doctor he works closely with and to whom he finds himself attracted. They soon find themselves in a situation where they must trust each other without the slightest reservation.

Terrorists, a kidnapping, international intrigue, and family dynamics all play strong roles in keeping the suspense high. Kristin's bank account and her reputation, along with her heart are at stake, while Brandon faces even higher stakes. His life and that of the woman he is falling in love with are on the line and he must walk a narrow line between conscience and duty.

This is one of those "can't put it down" kind of books that will appeal to many readers both male and female, young and older. I predict it is going to cost many people a lot of sleep because it's so compelling a reader will want to finish it in one sitting. The parts of the story that take place in Iraq are accurately descriptive, complete with realistic details of everyday military life in a war zone. Bellon worked closely with a recently returned Marine to give this part authenticity. Kristin's political campaign tactics didn't endear her to me, and she and her father's arm-twisting, insider pushiness may be more indicative of political maneuvering than I care to admit. Some actions in this area brought results that seemed a little too convenient to me. However their bully behavior did expedite moving the story from one location to another and was a useful indicator of their strong emotions. Kristen's love interest didn't seem sufficiently involved at critical points, but was merely along for the ride. Even so, I liked the characters, especially Brandon and Rachel.

There are about a half dozen copy errors or left out words that are mildly distracting, an unusually high number for a Covenant release, but overall All's Fair is a satisfying read and one I don't hesitate to recommend. 

Review by Jaymie Reynolds of the Association for Mormon Letters:

Kristen Shepherd has not had great luck with men. When still quite young, Kristen fell hard for her friend’s older brother. He in turn fell hard for someone else. Now that she has grown up, Kristen has fallen for a man who has it all. He is a member of a prominent family and seems to have it all together. Yet the night before they are to be married, it all falls apart.

Kristen receives a phone call telling her that her fiance is attempting to transfer all of her money to a bank account in Saudi Arabia to fund a terrorist organization whose membership includes his ex-wife. At the same time that Kristen is dealing with her now ex-fiance, the Department of Homeland Security, and intense scrutiny from the press, her brother Brandon, a surgeon serving in the Iraq war, is also feeling the effects of the same terrorist group.

Soon, Kristen, her father, and Ryan Jameson, the previous love of Kristen’s life, are informed that Brandon and a fellow surgeon have been captured and are being held as prisoners of war. Of course, like any good suspense novel, the trio does not choose to sit around and wait for others to free the soldiers. Since all three are coincidentally well connected in Washington, favors are called in, phone calls are made and Mr. Shepherd, his daughter and Mr. Jameson are on their way to Iraq. The chase is on.

All’s Fair by Julie Coulter Bellon is a book that will appeal to a wide target audience. Women will like the fact that the book’s heroines are strong without being over the top feminists. Men will enjoy the action. This book is most suited for adults although some older teens may enjoy it as well. While Brandon Shepherd is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as such is very much defined by his beliefs, All’s Fair is definitely not a book about religion. As such, it is a book that can be enjoyed by the religious and irreligious alike.

This book was easy to read and really does not need any tweaking. It has enough action to flow smoothly but not so much action that the storyline gets weighed down. Mystery and mayhem abound aplenty with a healthy side of romance. This book is not heavy reading but is an enjoyable way to pass the time.