By Thomas M. Loarie

BOOK REVIEW: “Dazzled” Author Provides a Gripping Guide to Overcome the Darkness that can hold us Hostage in Life

October 13, 2020
Column: CEO Learnings

by Thomas M. Loarie

“Dazzled, Finding the Key to Perfect Forgiveness” is one of the best books I have read this year. It is very well-written and difficult to put down.

Author Jess Echeverry, with the help of award-winning co-author Patti Maquire Armstrong, has written a dark story about today’s culture and the challenges faced by those held hostage by it.

The book covers many of today’s most serious social issues – the broken home, child molestation, out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy, abortion, homelessness, divorce, and pornography. She writes not from the perspective of an observer but as someone who experienced, struggled with, and survived each of these challenges.

This is a story of Echeverry’s personal journey from disobedience to obedience or, in a greater sense, from darkness to light,

She took a path that brought her healing, freedom, joy… and most importantly, an understanding of God’s love, and our shared human dignity.

Before she began to peel her layers of pain, Echeverry had suicidal thoughts. She wondered what was the purpose of her life, reminding herself that ”I am not even a good person.”

Molestation by the manager of the local convenience store (which she kept to herself), estrangement from her parents after their divorce, sexual abuse by others, and homelessness were crippling and destroyed her self-worth.

For her, sex had become compartmentalized and sexual intimacy with her husband was more transactional than filled with the supernatural joy intended by God. She had triggers that led to flashbacks that in turn, led to reduced intimacy.

Echeverry goes on to share how pornography was part of her marriage from the start. It was relic from their past and they believed it was healthy for their relationship. They were blind to the evil and degradation it inflicted on their marriage and their personhood.

The author tells us about one of her friends who got caught up in prostitution and committed suicide.

On refection, she came to realize how her friend had allowed men to use and to degrade her. She knew her friend was struggling to come to terms with the pain and trauma she experienced in a self-inflicted, abusive life. Echeverry believes her friend was feeling too damaged and could not find a way out of the darkness other than suicide; a devastating loss.

Pornography and prostitution are siblings. Both are wrapped in the trappings of pleasure, money and power, but unbeknownst to the naïve, they come with a high emotional and spiritual price tag. They degrade, dehumanize, and suck the life out of one’s soul.

Echeverry, as she peeled the layers, learned that the sexual union done properly within marriage as husband and wife lifted them up to the fullness in a relationship with God bringing what all seek – supernatural joy.

Things began to change for the better.

Her marriage provided the initial foundation for her healing. Her husband’s love provided safety. It was strengthened when she was drawn into the Catholic Church, through her young daughter’s “shoebox” project where Echeverry came face-to-face with total serenity.

Echeverry for the first time saw something in her daughter that she herself yearned for.

At that moment, the author came to realize that she only had been looking within for the peace and love she craved. She had been looking in all the wrong places. Instead, she realized that she needed to look outside – to Jesus, the great healer. This is person for whom she had been longing.

Today, Echeverry’s enthusiasm for the Catholic Church cannot be contained.

Echeverry says she learned obedience that has brought her healing, serenity, and joy. She had led a disobedient life, so obedience to a Church that dates back to St. Peter was something new.

God showed her how powerful obedience was in her first Sacramental Confession, which she characterizes as her 180-degree life-changing moment.

“The Church tells us to do certain things for our own benefit,” Echeverry explains, culling from her hard-earned wisdom about the Church. “The Church was established by God to enable His love and protection. But as we know, too often, people decide that they do not have to listen to the Church. They begin doing things their own way contrary to what the Church tells us, and this always leads us in the wrong direction.”

Echeverry goes on to remind us that she has lived on both sides of the rules.

She found safety in the guardrails the Church has provided. It is what she spent her whole life wanting. The Church and the rules are a gift from God.

When we simply do what the Church asks of us, we end up getting the answers we need and the joy we seek.

There is much to unpack in “Dazzled” and this review covers only a fraction of Echeverry’s experience and hard earned wisdom about life. It is in the end, God, who enables us through the Church to find peace, serenity and joy – in marriage and in every aspect of our life.

Echerverry’s prayer today is rooted in her personal journey and her experience traveling from the darkness to the light. It is for God to continue to give her truth, wisdom, and love.

“Lord keep me living in your truth. I want to love like you love, and love who you love.”




Thomas M. Loarie is the CEO of BryoLogyx, a rotating host of THE MENTORS RADIO SHOW, and a senior editorial advisor and columnist for Catholic Business Journal. He may be reached at

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