Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Trace Of Doubt by DiAnn Mills (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Trace Of Doubt by DiAnn Mills!

Book Review

Trace Of Doubt by DiAnn Mills
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Format: Hardcover - 432 pages
               Paperback - 432 pages
               Audio Book - 8 Hours 50 Minutes
               Kindle - 11181 KB / 412 pages
               Nook - 5 MB
ISBN (HC): 978-1496451842
ISBN (PB):  978-1496451859
ASIN (Audible): B09D413C6S
ASIN (Kindle): B08XRZ1GCL
BNID (Nook): 978-1496451873
Genre: Christian Fiction / Romantic Suspense 

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest book review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

Bestselling and award-winning author DiAnn Mills delivers a heart-stopping story of dark secrets, desperate enemies, and dangerous lies.

Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.

FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.

But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.

Praise for Trace of Doubt:

“Well-researched… with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy.” – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN

Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the storyline keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST

“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart… Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL

“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – JLYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREAT and ONE FINAL BREATH

Book Excerpt:



Would I ever learn? I’d spent too many years looking out for someone else, and here I was doing the same thing again. Holly had disappeared after I sent her to the rear pantry for potatoes. She’d been gone long enough to plant and dig them up. I needed to get those potatoes boiling to feed hungry stomachs.

I left the kitchen to find her. The hallway to the pantry needed better lighting or maybe fewer corners. In any event, uneasiness swirled around me like a dust storm.

A plea to stop met my ears. I raced to the rear pantry fearing what I’d find.

Four women circled Holly. One held her arms behind her back, and the other three took turns punching her small body. My stomach tightened. I’d been in her shoes, and I’d do anything to stop the women from beating her.

“Please, stop,” Holly said through a raspy breath. For one who was eighteen years old, she looked fifteen.

“Hey, what’s going on?” I forced my voice to rise above my fear of them.

“Stay out of it, freak.”

I’d run into this woman before, and she had a mean streak. “What’s she done to you?” I eyed the woman.

“None of your business unless you want the same.”

“It’s okay, Shelby. I can handle this.” Holly’s courageous words would only earn her another fist to her battered face.

And it did.

“Enough!” I drew my fists and stepped nose to nose with the leader.

The four turned on me. I’d lived through their beatings before, and I would again. I fell and the kicks to my ribs told me a few would be broken.

A whistle blew, and prison guards stopped the gang from delivering any more blows to Holly or me. They clamped cuffs on the four and left Holly and me on the floor with reassurance help was on its way.

I’d been her age once and forced to grow up fast. No one had counseled me but hard knocks, securing an education, and letting Jesus pave the way. I’d vowed to keep my eyes and ears open for others less fortunate.

Holly’s lip dripped blood and a huge lump formed on the side of her head. I crawled to her. “Are you okay?”

“Not sure. Thank you for standing up for me. I thought they would kill me. Why do they do this? I’ve never done a thing to them.”

“Because they can. They want to exert power, control. Stick by me, and I’ll do my best to keep you safe.”


I tightened my grip on the black trash bag slung over my shoulder containing my personal belongings—parole papers, a denim shoulder bag from high school, a ragged backpack, fifty dollars gate money, my driver’s license at age sixteen, and the clothes I’d worn to prison fifteen years ago.

The bus slowed to pick me up outside the prison gates, its windshield wipers keeping pace with the downpour. The rain splattered the flat ground in a steady cadence like a drum leading a prisoner to execution. I stepped back to avoid the splash of muddy water from the front tires dipping into a pothole. Air brakes breathed in and out, a massive beast taking respite from its life labors.

The door hissed open. At the top of the steps, a balding driver took my ticket, no doubt recognizing the prison’s release of a for- mer inmate. He must have been accustomed to weary souls who’d paid their debts to society. The coldness glaring from his graphite eyes told me he wagered I’d be locked up again within a year. Maybe less. I couldn’t blame him. The reoffend stats for female convicts like me soared high.

For too many years, I imagined the day I left prison would be bathed in sunlight. I’d be enveloped in welcoming arms and hear encouraging words from my family.

Reality hosted neither.

I moved to the rear of the bus, past a handful of people, and found a seat by myself. All around me were those engrossed in their devices. My life had been frozen in time, and now that I had permission to thaw, the world had changed. Was I ready for the fear digging its claws into my heart?

The cloudy view through the water-streaked window added to my doubts about the future. I’d memorized the prison rules, even prayed through them, and now I feared breaking one unknowingly.

The last time I’d breathed free air, riding the bus was a social gathering—in my case, a school bus. Kids chatted and laughter rose above the hum of tires. Now an eerie silence had descended.

I hadn’t been alone then.

My mind drifted back to high school days, when the future rested on maintaining a 4.0 average and planning the next party. Maintaining my grades took a fraction of time, while my mind schemed forbidden fun. I’d dreamed of attending college and exploring the world on my terms.

Rebellion held bold colors, like a kaleidoscope shrouded in black light. The more I shocked others, the more I plotted something darker. My choices often seemed a means of expressing my creativity. While in my youth I viewed life as a cynic. By the time I was able to see a reflection of my brokenness and vowed to change, no one trusted me.

All that happened . . .

Before I took the blame for murdering my brother-in-law. Before I traded my high school diploma and a career in interior design for a locked cell.

Before I spent years searching for answers.

Before I found new meaning and purpose.

How easy it would be to give in to a dismal, gray future when I longed for blue skies. I had to prove the odds against me were wrong.


Excerpt from Trace of Doubt by DiAnn Mills. Copyright 2021 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.

Book Trailer:

My Book Review:

In Trace Of Doubt, author DiAnn Mills transports the reader to Valleysburg, Texas for an intriguing Christian Romantic Suspense story that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

Shelby Pearce is paroled after serving fifteen years in prison for the murder of her brother-in-law Travis Stover. She's looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas, hoping for a second chance to be a productive and contributing member of the community, and the opportunity grow her custom made jewelry business. But someone is determined to stop her from doing just that.

FBI Special Agent Denton McClure has been on the Pearce case since the beginning. Fifteen years later, he is still in pursuit of the missing five hundred thousand dollars from Travis Stover's non-profit organization account. He's given the undercover assignment in Valleysburg, and he's determined to expose Shelby and locate the stolen money. But when Shelby comes under numerous threats from an anonymous person, he starts to question Shelby's guilt, and is determined to find out who is targeting Shelby, get the truth, and crack this case once and for all. 

Author DiAnn Mills weaves a fast-paced and suspenseful tale written in the first person alternating narrative that follows ex-con Shelby Pearce, FBI Special Agent Denton McClure, and Sheriff Wendall team up to track down the person who is trying to silence Shelby over the missing money, and prove Shelby's innocence beyond a trace of doubt. 

I loved reading this action-packed story. Shelby and Denton's investigation kept me intrigued as their unlikely partnership in finding the person threatening her life brings two people with a lot of baggage together, and how an unexpected attraction sparked between them mixed with humor and a new-found acceptance of Christian faith helped build trust between them during the investigation, and a chance at truth and redemption as well. 

The reader will be easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot that will keep them guessing as family dysfunction and secrets, possible motives, and clues are uncovered during the investigation. 

Trace Of Doubt has enough drama, tension, action, dark secrets, a touch of romance, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.


About The Author

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Barnes & Noble Author Page
BookBub Author Page

Contest Giveaway

Win $25 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for DiAnn Mills. There will be 2 winners who will each receive one gift card. Winners may select either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs September 1 through October 3, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Participants:

09/01 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

09/02 Guest post @ Novels Alive

09/03 Showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

09/05 Guest post @ The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

09/08 Review @ Wall-to-wall books

09/09 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

09/10 Interview @ Quiet Fury Books

09/13 Review @ Splashes of Joy

09/14 Review @ Novels Alive

09/14 Review @ sunny island breezes

09/15 Review @ Inkwell Inspirations

09/15 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy

09/16 Review @ Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

09/16 Review @ Avonna Loves Genres

09/17 Review @ Savings in seconds

09/18 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs

09/20 Interview @ I Read What You Write

09/21 Showcase @ The Bookwyrm

09/23 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads

09/24 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

09/26 Review @ Read Review Rejoice

09/27 Review @ Totally Addicted to Reading

09/27 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

09/28 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

09/28 Review @ Margaret Yelton

09/29 Review @ Nesies Place

09/29 Review @ The World As I See It

09/30 Review @ Pat Fayo Reviews


  1. Thanks for your great review! I also read this one and loved it!! <3

  2. Thank you for the powerful book review and feature of Trace of Doubt! I'm so appreciative!

    1. Hi DiAnn! Thank you for the opportunity to read, review, and feature Trace Of Doubt on my blog. Loved reading about Shelby and Denton'story, keep em coming!