Monday, August 24, 2015


This is a book review of THE CONGREGATION, a novel of 260 pages by Desiree Bombenon, and published by River Grove Books of Greenleaf Book Group. Publication date is August 25, 2015.

This Book Review is posted by Anna Patterson. Writer, Journalist, Book Reviewer,  
I received a copy of this book to read through the Net Galley program in exchange for an honest and unbiased review which I am happy to share now.
In this book’s description, it is noted that this is the second book in the Jake and Amanda Bannon novels. A brilliant and successful couple is introduced in these books as events lead them into an entertaining display of their ability to be both charming and able to solve difficult mysteries involving dangerous adventures. Their efforts at sleuthing takes them from scenic locations, Hawaii, Rome,  but their good intentions to enjoy themselves in these beautiful places becomes instantly totally halted when they become innocently enough involved in things most deadly.
As Jake ponders over a situation like this, his thoughts explain their involvement in mysteries as, “It was Amanda who said, yes. It was always Amanda, and here they were about to go at it again . . .”
As for Amanda, there were many reasons the couple was close, they agreed on many things. “Amanda felt her clairvoyance was the reason she and Jake tended to get into all kinds of trouble.”
It seems that Amanda’s dark visions, even turning of a sinister nation, could be revealing something terrible about this quest they were on which eventually brought them to Chicago. It was meant to be just carrying religious relics to people who had wanted them, but some of the characters worrying about this couples ability to deduce the truth, well, they had a very dark side. One of them was exhibiting his most abusive nature to his wife at that point of the mysterious other hidden secret part of the adventure.

In a further explanation, the book’s description explains, “With a cast of well-drawn and original characters, The Congregation is a fast-paced and sometimes shocking tale of what happens when the idealism and innocence of youth unveil the dark history of hypocrisy in the Catholic Church. Bombenon’s adventurous and romantic couple provides the perfect amount of humor and wit in a sophisticated, exciting, and thought-provoking book”
I did read the first novel about this adventurous couple and found it interesting, and also capturing the earthy reality of life. This second book does the same. I did like the contrasting views expressed by Amanda and her critical views of the church, but at the same time it is pointed out, her mother is a devout Catholic and Amanda is willing to go all the way to Rome to have a relic blessed there because of her mother’s devotion and belief in the church.
Because of this realistic look at families and their diversified differences of opinion, I felt this added depth to the novels. The second book, I believe, delves into what could be considered controversial issues of today’s reality. Because of both book’s frankness, I would not consider them just a light read. I would give The Congregation Four Stars. There are many things I found to like about the book, and some things which made me stop in a thoughtful pause.

The author, Desiree A. Bombenon, was born in Colombo, Siri Lanka, and has been a successful CEO and certified strategic leader. She is a member of the Young Presidents Organization and has won several industry and leadership awards globally.