Monday, March 24, 2008

All the Trees in Pearl by Emily Ryan-Davis

TITLE: All the Trees in Pearl
AUTHOR: Emily Ryan-Davis
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Short story (roughly 14k)
GENRE: Historical erotic romance
COST: $2.99

Widow Margaret Redde has used a mail order bride service in order to find a new husband. In Colorado. But when she arrives in the dusty town of Pearl, she discovers that the man she thought she was supposed to marry never sent her a single letter. Ethan Carver isn’t sure what to do with this beautiful woman from Connecticut, but when it becomes clear that his baby brother has set him up, he decides it’s the perfect way to get the lovely Margaret in his bed…

I first read this author in a Freya’s Bower anthology and thought her story one of the best of the bunch. This looked mildly interesting, so I thought I’d test the waters again. It would be great to actually discover a really good author from an anthology for a change. This wasn’t the story to do it with.

Though the first few paragraphs were quite lovely and descriptive, the smooth prose degenerated quickly to lots of long, awkward sentences, and illogical phrasing that pulled me out of the story. The first sex scene between Margaret and Ethan – where I’m sure the author meant for me to be impressed with Ethan’s attention and thoughtfulness – had me giggling throughout, and it took quite a bit for me to lose that mood. Sentences like, His brain melted and shot out his cock over and over again ’til he was sure she’d sucked him to a dried husk of a man, might have worked if she hadn’t made it so literal, but when this is the pinnacle of the scene, and comes after others quite similar, I couldn’t just skim over it and take it seriously.

What’s so odd is that the last third of the story slips into the realm where I think she meant the story to be from the beginning. There’s a melancholy to the scene between Margaret and Ethan at his brother’s mine that is brimming with genuine emotion and not just painted on lust. It’s here we get our first – and really, only – sincere glimpse into the kind of man Ethan is, and it’s heart-breaking. It’s just a little too late to actually mean anything in the grand scheme of the story.

I’m really on the fence about this author. I think there’s promise there, but it might just be a matter of finding the right publisher or story to make the perfect fit.


7/10 – Once I got past some really clunky writing, the second half read much smoother.


5/10 – Not objectionable, but rather flat.


5/10 – I never really understand her motivation for going or personality changes after arriving.

Entertainment value

5/10 – The illogical and awkward beginning drags down what could have been a delightful romantic story.

World building

6/10 – There’s never much of a sense of place in this.



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