Play it Again, by Tracy Krauss (Strategic Book Publishing, 2011)
In the 1980’s, a one-night stand between a conservative accountant and a free-spirited younger woman may have been love at first sight, but neither can admit the possibility. Nor can they stop thinking about one another.
Russ Graham is punctual, successful, and always trying to measure up. Deanie Burton is impulsive, direct and never on time. They’ve both got a lot of baggage from disastrous past relationships.
Neither is a Christian, although Russ learned enough of “the rules” as a child to think he knows it’s not for him. His mother is a woman of faith, but she plays the guilt card more than she should and tends to look no deeper than appearances.
Deanie’s father leads a jazz troupe, and Deanie herself has recently quit singing in a rock band. She’d love to go back to it, but she also wants a job with a steady income.
Play it Again is a romance, without the suspense that readers of author Tracy Krauss may expect from her previous novels. There’s still plenty of tension and some elements of danger. It’s very much a relationship story, and a coming-to-faith story.
There’s a fair bit of mild profanity, enough to put the novel into the “edgy Christian fiction” category, definitely enough that the more conservative readers of Christian fiction may want to give it a miss. There isn’t a lot of sexual content, and it’s discreetly “off-camera.”
While the language might make Russ, Deanie and their friends feel more realistic to non-Christian readers, I think those readers might have trouble accepting the number of characters who commit their hearts to Christ by the book’s end. Still, it could be a good book to pass to a non-Christian friend.
The basics of the faith are clearly presented in small portions as the characters themselves begin searching—after readers have watched them dig themselves into messes and have developed sympathy for them. And although the gospel message is very clear, I never felt readers were being preached at.
I found it interesting to look at the Christian characters through Russ and Deanie’s eyes and see how even the best intentions can be misconstrued. Deanie’s friend Holly shows how faith can be lived non-judgmentally but without compromise, and she’s a good example to us all.
Tracy Krauss is a Canadian author whose previous novels include And the Beat Goes On and My Mother the Man-Eater. Play it Again is the prequel to And the Beat Goes On. You can learn more about Tracy at her website or check out her blog, Expressions Express, about the creative process from a Christian perspective.
There’s an interesting interview with Tracy Krauss at Marcy Dyer’s Rollercoaster Suspense blog, where she talks about her philosophy in writing edgy Christian fiction.