Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Morning Star by Micqui Miller

TITLE: Morning Star
AUTHOR: Micqui Miller
PUBLISHER: Cerridwen Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 126k)
GENRE: Contemporary romantic suspense
COST: $7.99

The last thing widow Liz O’Hara expects to see is the history she’d thought she left behind splashed across the evening news. Newsanchor Josh Wilder knew Liz when she was a frightened, pregnant teenager in the Haight-Ashbury District, and now, the daughter she thought had died at birth needs her. Liz is her only hope for survival, but the national broadcast did more than tell Liz her daughter is still alive. It told the father, too, a violent sociopath who’s been hiding his true identity for thirty years. Now, Liz has a choice to make. Turn her back on the past she’s been trying to avoid, or embrace the future and risk everything.

Though I actually bought this book when it came out in early December, I kept putting it off and putting it off. Then, when I finally started to read it, I nearly gave up after the first few chapters. Not a very auspicious start.

It’s not that it’s a bad book. There were points where I was really sucked into it. What it suffers from is what I think of as the “too much” syndrome. It tries to do a little of everything and in the end, fails to make an impact in any of them. Kind of like the old cliché, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” There are times where it feels like a medical drama, and the reader gets sucked into the story of trying to save Shay’s life. There are other times it feels like a socio-political story, where it delves into the hippy culture of the early seventies, the radicals who protested the war, and what happened to them. There are times it’s a suspense thriller – when Freedom, the father, stalks the family – and a romance – when Josh reconnects with Liz. Each time, there’s a massive information dump, details that detract from the overall effect instead of enhance.

Another victim of the “too much” is Liz, the heroine. At times, she is revered or reviled, but in the end, she is martyred so strongly that I truly didn’t like her. Half her scenes had emotional arcs that were all over the place, too. I think she was meant to be seen as under so much stress that she was swiveling from one feeling to the next in the blink of an eye, but that wasn’t conveyed well enough for me to shake the sense of “Huh?” that accompanied most of her scenes.

Most of the characters suffer from that kind of scattershot characterization. The only one who didn’t, for me, was Josh. I thought the depth of his emotional problems and general flow of his actions/emotions was real enough for me to empathize with. I do have to admit to rolling my eyes when he confessed one of his big secrets to Liz. It was another of those moments where I thought, “Is there an issue the author doesn’t want to drag into this?”

I suppose I could talk about some of the truly stupid things the characters do throughout the course of the book, but in light of how much the whole thing suffers from the “too much” syndrome, I’ll pass on that this time. Suffice it to say, if these people acted with half a brain, the book would have been half as long. I’m not so sure that wouldn’t have been a good thing.


6/10 – Riddled with lazy editing, headhopping, and too much story for its own good, the glimmers of promise it shows manages to drag the reader along to the end.


7/10 – Likable and probably the most realistic character of the bunch


4/10 – The rest of the story might think she walks on water, but I sure as hell didn’t.

Entertainment value

5/10 – Some good ideas and a couple interesting characters don’t manage to salvage this.

World building

7/10 – With as much detail as the author provides, some of it was bound to stick.



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