Friday, March 14, 2008

Savannah's Hero by Diana Bold

TITLE: Savannah’s Hero
AUTHOR: Diana Bold
PUBLISHER: Cobblestone Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 48k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $5.99

Tortured by memories of killing his own brother during the Civil War, Tristan Kane becomes a gun for hire, desperate to escape the memories. When he decides to look for an old friend, he doesn’t expect to get shot in the back, or for that old friend to come to his rescue. He takes Tristan home, where Tristan learns that Savannah, the love of his life and the sister of his ex-best friend, now has a son. Not only that, she’s the widow of his dead twin brother, which makes her son his nephew. Or is he?

I have a quibble with the blurb that’s available at the publisher’s website. In the blurb, Savannah is called Savannah McKenzie. That’s her maiden name. She is never called that in the book. In fact, her name is Savannah Kane, because she’s the widow of Tristan’s dead twin brother. Now, if I had known this one detail, I probably wouldn’t have bought the book. It would have felt too Days of Our Lives, and I’m a little annoyed that the blurb is so misleading. Because as it turns out, I would have been right.

The melodrama in this is piled six feet deep. Tristan, who lived in Maryland, chose to go fight for the South in the war – though there is never any kind of reasonable excuse given for such a ridiculous decision except to allow the author to pit brother against brother and to break up the young romance. He shoots his twin brother, who then dies, and then Tristan gets taken prisoner and whipped repeatedly until he’s scarred both mentally and emotionally. Then we have Savannah, who seduced Tristan before he went off to war, then found out she was pregnant with his son and married his twin brother so the baby wouldn’t be a bastard. But she never tells anybody any of this, of course, so she’s the grieving widow throughout. Then there’s Joel, Savannah’s brother and the friend Tristan came to Colorado to find. It turns out that Joel is a recovering alcoholic, who was drunk as a skunk when he had to operate on the injured twin brother and now blames himself for his death. Toss in Billy, the ten-year-old boy who doesn’t know his real father is the gunslinger now recovering in the guest room, and it really is a soap opera, isn’t it?

I’m not spoiling anything. All of that information is out by the end of the second chapter. We then get seventeen chapters of self-loathing and miscommunications and guilty kisses and blame, and it’s just so, so, so heavy. It gets extremely tedious to read. These characters don’t really do all that much except sit around and blame themselves for everything went wrong in their lives, and then they blame each other for the rest. Nothing really happens.

Hoping for something hugely erotic doesn't work either. Though it's billed as an erotic romance, there was nothing that graphic about the couple of love scenes towards the end of the book. They're written nicely enough, but I would never call them sexually charged or more graphic than I find in a lot of so-called nicer romances. So I'm leaving the erotic off my description of it.

Technically, there isn’t anything wrong with the story. The editing is solid, the prose flows reasonably well. There are some anachronistic details in the world-building that will probably bug historical romance lovers, but if melodrama is your thing, especially in the Old West, this might work for you. Just don’t believe the blurb.


7/10 – Technically solid, but so heavy on the melodrama that it gets tedious.


4/10 – Angsty and annoying, with an unrealistic turnaround at the end after some bad behavior


5/10 – Not quite as bad as the hero, but too bland to really make memorable

Entertainment value

2/10 – Far, far too much melodrama to engage me

World building

6/10 – There’s attempts to give it period flavor, but dialogue feels hugely modern throughout the story and there are certain anachronisms that jar



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