Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thistle Dew by ALee Drake

TITLE: Thistle Dew
AUTHOR: ALee Drake
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 47k)
GENRE: Paranormal romance
COST: $4.50

Widow Sage Winters is determined to make the Thistle Dew B&B a success, the dream she and her husband had always had. That includes regular writer’s retreats, which brings Hawke straight to her door. The attraction is immediate. He seems to have the approval of her husband’s ghost, too, who works behind the scenes to try and keep his wife and daughter safe and happy…

The short novel starts out strong, as Hawke whips through a cold northeastern October on his new motorcycle to get to the Thistle Dew B&B. The atmosphere is vivid, and Hawke interesting, and when he arrives, he's enchanted by Sage Winters when he finally meets her face to face. I like Sage, too, because she responds as I feel a woman in her position would. She’s strong without being overly so, a good mother, charming. When I reached the ghost coda that’s at the end of the bulk of the chapters, I was quite taken with the set-up and really looking forward to how it would all play out.

Unfortunately, that promise starts to fade. Pacing becomes quite jerky as the flow of time is never really smooth. What do I mean by this? I mean that there are awkward jumps that never get explained, incidents like guests finishing lunch and then getting prose that suggests more time has passed (As afternoon crept closer…) only to have Sage call her daughter to lunch, and so on and so on. It grows wearying to read, especially when the POV starts to float. It’s almost headhopping, but it’s often unexplained whose perspective it’s in. It only gets worse as the story progresses, until I just have a headache by the time the story is over.

My liking of the characters wanes as well. Sage fares better than Hawke, but when Pia comes up missing, her behavior becomes so erratic and blind that I got angry with her more than once. Hawke remains much of an enigma until all of a sudden in the last third of the story, a whole bunch of backstory gets dumped all at once. It’s awkward, and more importantly, too late to matter. Secondary characters tend to blur, with the exception of Lowell who seems stereotypical at best. In the end, my fears for Pia and my soft spot for Eric (the ghost of Sage’s dead husband) aren’t enough to overcome all of these flaws, and I’m left dissatisfied and wondering if Sage and Eric’s story would have been more interesting. I think yes.


5/10 – Ambiguous POV and poor pacing ended up giving me a headache reading this by halfway through


5/10 – There are hints of depth here, but all the character stuff gets thrown in the last third which is too late for it to impact


6/10 – She started out strong and lovely, but with the disjoin of the story came my disillusionment with her

Entertainment value

5/10 – The ache I felt for the characters in the beginning faded into a wish for it to be over with

World building

6/10 – Everything weather-related was wonderful, but the story lacked everywhere else



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