Carter Explores Strongholds

Carter_review_20191130Lisa Carter. 2016. The Stronghold. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

What makes a book a Christian novel? Possibilities include:

  • A leading character is a “Christ figure” or a pastor whose life includes a sacrificial component.
  • God intervenes through circumstances to grow a character (or characters) to realize their potential and they turn to God in gratitude.
  • At least one minor character cites enough Bible verses to warrant their own scriptural index.
  • The hero must overcome a significant character flaw in vanquishing the villain, but relents from physically harming the villain. Instead, encourages the villain to overcome his/her own flaws.

In every case, happy endings rule the Christian novel. In my mind, the ideal Christian character grows to exhibit Christian virtues without speaking them out loud; yet, the context leaves no doubt as to who is ultimately responsible for the growth—subtly is virtue.


The title of Lisa Carter’s novel, The Stronghold, is a double-entendre. One is a tragic flaw; the other a long-forgotten fortress. An estranged couple—a tribal (Apache) police officer and an FBI (Chicano) agent—must work together to find and arrest a serial killer, and, as we learn later, to save their marriage. Much later in the story, we learn that they have strong Christian roots that they have not drawn attention to but live out in a rough and tumble part of Arizona along the Mexican border. Also noteworthy is the role of strong grandmother that brought them together, protected them, and prepared them for their Christian walk in spite of abuse and life-threatening adversity—a divine stronghold.

Lisa Carter

Lisa Carter describes herself as an author, teacher, speaker, quilter, musician, wife, and mother.[1] I met her at the Virginia chapter[2] of the American Christian Fiction Writer’s[3] annual conference in October 2019 where she served as a conference speaker.

Lisa’s talk interested me enough that I checked out her books in the conference bookstore. The Strongholdcaught my eye because I planned visit my son in Phoenix for Thanksgiving, because I volunteer in Hispanic ministry, and  because I was curious about the romantic suspense genre.[4]


Lisa Carter’s The Stronghold is a classic page-turner that had me crying. The Stronghold offered me a good diversion over break during a five-hour flight, albeit not quite in a single sitting.





[4] Romance Writers of America: Kiss of Death. The website for this award describes it as: The Daphne is a writing contest for published and unpublished authors of romantic suspense, mystery, suspense, and thrillers with romantic subplots and mainstream mystery, suspense, and thrillers.” The sponsors of this award have no religious affiliation.

Carter Explores Strongholds

Also see:

Fukuyama Understands Identity 

Vance Chronicles White Poverty in America

Other ways to engage online:

Author site:, Publisher site:


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