Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fire Eyes by Cheryl Pierson

TITLE: Fire Eyes
AUTHOR: Cheryl Pierson
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 74k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $6.00

In an attempt to save two kidnapped Indian girls, US Marshal Kaed Turner finds himself beaten and tortured by one of the most notorious gangs in the territory, Fallon’s Brigade. The Choctaw save him, and take him to a local woman so she can nurse him back to health. The last time they brought someone to Jessica Monroe to save, it was her husband, and her attempts to rescue him failed, even if her marriage had long since stopped being satisfying. She is determined to save Kaed, but neither anticipate the connection that springs between them. Do they stand a chance, though? Because Kaed is still a Marshal, and Andrew Fallon is still out there, ready to take Kaed down in the most painful way possible. Someone has to stop him…

There are some books I finish and think, “I really wish it had stopped while it was ahead.” Often, this is what marks the difference between a very good book, and an outstanding one. That’s definitely the deal with this one. In essence, it felt like two very different stories, and the segue between the two not nearly smooth enough to make the transition seamless.

The two characters are complete types in this genre, the honorable authority figure (in this case, a US Marshall) and the innocent though not stupid frontier woman who is making her own way in spite of incredible odds. It’s impossible not to like and respect Jess and Kaed almost from the second they’re introduced. Kaed is attempting to save not only a colleague but also a pair of young Choctaw virgins who have been kidnapped to sell. Jess is widowed from a loveless marriage, raising another woman’s baby as her own because her friend died, and doing everything she can to simply survive, all at a very young age. When they come together, it is highly romantic, and sweet, and tender, and hot, all at the same time. These two people need happiness so badly, you don’t care that they don’t really know each other, or that it happens so fast. I fell head over heels for their love story, pounding heart and all.

But then it started to change. Declarations happen a third of the way through the book. A third. Leaving a lot of room for a lot of story to happen. The other marshals who work with Kaed begin to play a larger and larger role as Kaed’s health improves, so by the time declarations come, you know they’re going to be pivotal to the rest of the story. And in fact, after they find Kaed, the story veers off into a whole new tonal direction. Andrew Fallon is still out there, and Kaed wants to catch him. The second half is all about tracking him down, and the band of marshals plays a much more pivotal role than the romance. It’s a little disconcerting, actually. It takes a while to really keep all the players straight, and the romantic mood of what I fell in love with is completely gone. There’s definitely nothing wrong with it, but the disconnect between the two halves was so jarring, I was disappointed. There’s an attempt at a secondary romance between one of the other marshals and a girl they rescue, but it’s played in the same manner as Jess and Kaed’s, meaning it’s love at first sight. In their case, it doesn’t work. It’s too abrupt, and as a reader, my connection to either character wasn’t nearly strong enough for me to blindly accept the speed of their connection.

Which is disappointing, in the end. Because I was swept away by the romantic aspects of Kaed and Jessica’s coming together. That’s what I thought was getting, so to have it switch so abruptly halfway through just didn’t work. What could have been a truly outstanding, romantic historical is, instead, just very good. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. But I had such high hopes it’s hard not to see them satisfied.

Readability

8/10 – Sheer romanticism of the first half gets overwhelmed by too many characters and different focus of the latter

Hero

8/10 – Honorable and amazing

Heroine

7/10 – Young but not stupid

Entertainment value

8/10 – This might have been truly outstanding if there had been a better flow between the two halves

World building

8/10 – Rustic and rich

TOTAL:

39/50

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

I am so glad that you read Fire Eyes and reviewed it. Thanks so much for your very constructive comments, too! Fire Eyes is my first novel, and of course, different people will like different things about it. I've received lots of very positive reviews on it, and I'm glad you enjoyed it as well. I write a little grittier and edgier than some romance writers, and it's not appealing to everyone. Thanks so much for reading and doing a review for Fire Eyes. Maybe you will enjoy SWEET DANGER, my book that will be released in October of this year.