heartache and sin book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Ever since her mother died from diabetes, Karen Wheaton has felt empty inside. Joining the Church of Resurrection has given Karen a new purpose and direction in her life, but her husband Steven cannot shake the feeling that something is not quite right with Preacher Ryan MacDonald. The deeper Karen becomes involved with the church, the more determined Steven becomes to unravel the secrets that MacDonald keeps. His suspicions are confirmed when he converses with Pastor Ryan’s wife Mary. Once Ryan suspects that Steven is a danger to his agenda, he will do anything to keep Ryan and Mary away from one another.

When Karen discovers she is pregnant, her life and the baby’s are at risk because of her own diagnosed diabetes. MacDonald uses Karen’s pregnancy to his advantage, arranging a protest at a local women’s clinic that also performs abortions. Karen wants nothing more than to have this child, even though both Steven and her doctor urge her to terminate the pregnancy. More than ever, Steven needs Mary’s help to expose Ryan for the fraud that he is. Will the truth be revealed in time to save Karen from impending death?

Charles Soto’s debut novel Heartache & Sin can be summed up in two words: grammatical wreck. Readers with a sharp eye will be able to pick out each and every grammatical flaw and incorrect punctuation mark found on page after page of this hefty 478 page novel. A basic spelling and grammar check could have saved the majority of the errors in this book, but only a more skilled writer and editor could have improved the rest of the text.

Soto’s lack of skillful technique was evident in his failures to cohesively create a string of words into a clear and concise sentence. Most of Soto’s sentences were written as fragments. While some authors can make this style of writing work, Soto’s poor attempt leaves him with a disjointed and at times confusing novel.

The plot itself is pretty compelling and heartbreaking, but most of the characters are too black and white. Pastor Ryan is the embodiment of human nature at its worst, while Karen is pure innocence and light. All women are portrayed as weak, with the exception of one; however, even she has to pretend to be a male to achieve her goals. Additionally, the credibility of the more educated characters in the novel becomes questionable with the incorrect usage of “who” and “whom”, using the word “antidote” instead of “anecdote”, and confusing the difference between “conscience” and “conscious”. This novel is truly every grammar lover’s worst nightmare come to fruition in a “professionally” published package.

Heartache & Sin tackles some pretty tough issues including spousal abuse, fidelity, and abortion. Though abortion is the hot topic mentioned on the back cover, Karen’s pregnancy and MacDonald’s interest in battling the abortion clinic do not even surface until after nearly 300 pages. Unfortunately, the plot wasn’t enough to save Heartache & Sin from being a gigantic disappointment. If Soto addresses the spelling and grammar issues, he might be worth considering in the future. However, after reading an excerpt from his upcoming novel, I am not too optimistic.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Charles Soto. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.