Friday, July 2, 2010

Confederate Rose by Susan Macatee

TITLE: Confederate Rose
AUTHOR: Susan Macatee
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 61k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $6.00

Katie O’Reilly posed as a boy to join her husband in the Confederate Army, and continued the charade after he was killed. All she wanted was revenge against the Yankees for destroying so much of what she loved. On a mail run, she runs into Alex Hart, a Federal spy, and the two end up stranded in a cabin in the middle of nowhere during a snowstorm. She has no idea he’s not the reporter he claims to be. She only knows she’s attracted to him, like she hasn’t been attracted to any man since her husband died. But the war is still raging around them, and eventually they both have to get back to their opposite sides…

I have not been this bored by a book in a very long time. Not even being an American historical could garner much to keep my attention on it.

It starts out with Katie, stopping to fill her canteen from a stream. Alex Hart, a Federal spy, comes upon her, and when she thinks he’s going to rob her, she tries to pull her gun on him, only to fall into the water. He saves her, but they’re soaking wet in the middle of March, and he takes her to shelter at a nearby cabin. Her identity has already been exposed, so he acts gentlemanly, but a snowstorm strands them together for a couple weeks, during which time he nurses her back from a bad fever, and the two fall for each other. They head back to her camp, he decides to join up to get more secrets, and…it goes on forever. And forever. And the thing of it is, it’s not a long novel at all. Scenes are short, time gets jumped, and nothing gets shown. It’s all told, and it’s boring as hell to read. I’m expected to get involved with these characters, but no time is spent with them actually getting to know each other, let alone me getting much time to really know them.

Everything but the epilogue spans two years, if that gives you any hint on how little is actually explored. Each scene tries to turn the story in a new direction, from Alex’s joining up, to getting caught, to escaping, to…well, you get the idea. It’s like it wants to be this grand epic love story, but it’s only 60k. That’s not nearly enough space to give these characters or their actions any kind of depth, not on the scale the plot wants to be. Many scenes fall below a thousand words, before jumping perspective, time, and/or place. That leaves Katie a stereotype who flits from one emotion to the next with no rhyme or reason for the shifts, Alex a constant liar because his deceptions are what fuel a good part of the book, and me bored out of my mind before I got halfway through.

Frankly, I have to be blunt, and say don’t waste your time unless you’re already a fan of this author.


4/10 – Boring, shallow characterization, all show not tell


3/10 – Little believable about him, especially given how much he lies to her


3/10 – Suffers from same problem of the rest of the book, unbelievable and boring

Entertainment value

2/10 – Tries to be epic, crammed into a short novel, which ultimately meant I was bored to tears

World building

5/10 – Though there’s an attempt to create a sense of time and place, the writing is so superficial it lacks any kind of depth



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