Friday, June 27, 2008

Eden's Pass by Kimberly Nee

TITLE: Eden’s Pass
AUTHOR: Kimberly Nee
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 90k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $5.50

When the ship she serves on is captured, Finn wants only two things – to get free, and to keep the secret of her gender safe. She poses as a boy in order to remain safe among the pirates, with dreams of owning her own ship someday, but the handsome and enigmatic captain of the new ship she crews tests her every limit. Inigo Sebastiano doesn’t know what to make of his willful and arrogant new cabin boy, but the fact that he’s attracted to the lad does not fill him with glee…

I’ve had this book for a month. I bought it when it was first released and it’s languished on my TBR pile in the interim, mostly because I really have to be in the mood to read historical stories. So when I picked it up this week, it had been a month since I had read the blurb. All I remembered was non-erotic pirate romance, which I thought was enough. But I learned something interesting this week. When I went back to gather the information for this review, I discovered the blurb – which I was rereading for the first time since buying – gives away huge spoilers for the book. Now, if this was a novella, I might be more understanding because there’s less space in the story and an author needs to keep a blurb from being too vague. But this story was over 90k long. There is more than enough story there to write a decent blurb. Yet, there are two distinct facts revealed in the blurb that don’t come out until the very end of the story. On top of that, much of Finn’s backstory is given away in the first sentence. In the story? We don’t find out about her past until 47k into it. Over halfway. Normally, this might not be such a big deal, but in this book, it is. This single fact provides the basis of all of Finn’s motivations. Knowing it makes her actions in the first half of the story understandable, maybe even a little sympathetic. Not knowing it – as I didn’t because I didn’t waste time rereading the blurb before picking up the book to read – makes Finn look angry, idiotic, and needlessly bitchy.

Needless to say, my reaction to Finn colored my entire reading experience. She presents in the beginning as being capable, but as soon as she is taken captive, she turns into an idiot. She openly rebels against the captain for no good reason, reacting in ways even she doesn’t understand but doesn’t stop, like refusing to fetch his dinner before hanging her own bed. She even undergoes a 4-day hunger strike, while still conducting her cabin boy duties, simply to best him in a battle of wills. She comes across as angry and foolish, all at the same time, because the simple matter is, she chose a life at sea, she’s worked a crew before – albeit without much supervision – and this is the captain she’s sassing and disobeying. I’m sure it’s meant to show how spunky she is, how she can stand on her own, but you know, part of the thing about being spunky is the character still has to be likable. Finn isn’t. Her actions become understandable when her past is finally revealed, but again, that doesn’t happen until over halfway through the book. By then, my opinion of her has been sealed, and nothing she can do for the rest of the book can sway it. In fact, some of her later actions only convince me further the woman is an idiot. She almost deserves some of the consequences that befall her.

Compared to Finn, Inigo’s practically a saint. He’s oddly tolerant of her rebellious behavior and wryly charming on more than one occasion. It can’t save some of his over-the-top dialogue - And you will hush now. I’ve no desire to argue over a shirt. No woman has ever filled me with such fire, such need, as you do, Finn. We can do battle later. Now, we will make love – that unfortunately reeks of Latin lothario, but he certainly comes across as the more likable of the pair.

The plot itself is half hiding her true gender, half push/pull of oh I want you/oh I can’t trust you. It serves its purpose for what it is, though there’s nothing noteworthy or uniquely engaging about it. The story’s structure does seem oddly balanced, though, as what feel like important facts and events are plunked down too late in the telling to have any true impact. I find myself really unsettled by the last quarter of the story, in fact, because in a lot of ways, it feels like an entirely different story than the rest of the book.

Of course, I didn’t re-read the blurb before sitting down to read the story. But if a book requires me to get my explanations or facts from the blurb, something is seriously wrong.


7/10 – Minor editing issues including continuity, as well as dialogue that made me laugh when I’m sure it wasn’t meant to.


7/10 – A tad over the top, even for a suspend-your-disbelief pirate story, though looks much better next to the heroine


2/10 – So angry and foolish in the first half of the story that it’s nearly impossible to ever feel anything positive for her.

Entertainment value

4/10 – I loathed the heroine to the point where I kind of hoped the hero really would lash her.

World building

7/10 – Fine enough for the ship aspects; it falters any time it hits dry land.



No comments: