You know it is going to be an interesting day when you get a message at 7am, saying “Have I got a book rant for you?”.
This morning, my sister (a fellow romance reader) called me to tell me this very thing. She’d picked up the book in question via a free download from Amazon’s Kindle Store, the provider of many a fabulous free read. Apparently this book had spun her out to the extent that she had been waiting until I was awake to tell me about it.
She pleaded with me – “Download this book, read it and tell me it’s not just me!”
Of course this piqued my interest, so off I went to Amazon, and downloaded it. I even put my current ARC down to see if my angry trigger got tripped as quickly as my sister’s was. It sadly was.
OK, now the writing style is perfectly fine. This will be in no way a personal affront to the author, just my observations.
The book to which I am referring is Big Sky Blue, a novella that kicks off the Shades of Blue trilogy by Hildie McQueen. If you still want to check it out after reading this, you can download it to your Kindle here. I have read many a fantastic free book from Amazon, so my review has nothing to do with the price of the book. I’ve paid $10 or $20 for some books that I rather scratch my eyes out than read again.
The river of crazy flows all the way through this book and back. I am willing to tolerate a little inaccuracy or the occasional moment of creative timekeeping in my historical romance, but there were occasions where I just had to look up from my Kindle and shake my head.
What was it that drove me bonkers, you ask?
When the book is only 70 pages, it would help if we got to meet the heroine fairly early on.
The heroine wasn’t introduced or even hinted at until my Kindle showed it was 26% of the way through the book. Over a quarter of the way through before we have any idea who she is. Way too late IMO.
For me, when I am reading a romance, I love the sense of anticipation, the building of romantic tension between the hero and heroine. Seeing two people fall in love throughout the course of a story is one of the great joys of reading romance. When they meet for the first time 40% of the way through, I couldn’t help but wonder how a believable love story could develop.
I’m not sure if this was the reason why I didn’t enjoy these two as a couple, but I just couldn’t get it in my head that these two were meant to be together. There were a few furtive glances and one fairly tame roll in the grass, and then after a short to and fro, they’re kissing in a house and engaged. I nearly would have preferred flaming balls of instalove to rain down upon the book than this.
The author should probably know whether their setting existed at the time their book is set.
Our hero is in his twenties or thirties, and he has lived in Montana his whole life. That in itself was fine. However this book is set in Montana in 1838. What is wrong with that?
Well…..Montana as a state didn’t exist in 1838. It wasn’t even a separate territory. Montana’s first permanent white settlement was in 1841. Alder Gulch, the town in which the story takes place, was discovered as a gold source in 1863, 25 years after the story is set. The town has a mercantile in the story – where is it being stocked out of? Considering no one’s settled the territory, we can only assume aliens.
For our old mate to have grown up in Montana, he must be doing a Benjamin Button and aging in reverse, because it’s the only way (other than being a Native American – he isn’t) that he could have grown up there.
A year here and there I could probably handle, but decades? Uh-uh!
After reading this, I was sitting trying to make heads or tails of it. Not only did the historical inaccuracies and lack of chemistry get to me, but the glossing over of the heroine’s past gave me a dose.
I will tell you right now, if I had witnessed what the heroine did and had been experiencing highly traumatic nightmares as a result, no single night sharing a bed with my aunt in a strange man’s house (no matter how well he wore his Captain Sexypants) would cure my ills. I wasn’t expecting psychoanalysis or art therapy, but I would have expected more than this. And also how did she get to Montana on her own? It’s as if she has teleported there, Star-Trek style.
I’m going to have to stop now, as thinking about it makes me feel a little stabby. I am fully aware that there are people who loved the crap out of this book, and all power to you. However, it often felt as if it was once a longer book, and at some point, someone decided “I shall include page 3, 6, 10, 32 etc. and only these pages”.
I will leave you with this thought: the hero’s surname is Cole and his son was Ashley. All I could think about once I made the connection was the footballer, Ashley Cole (of whom I am also not a fan). Non-Chelsea fans will agree with me.
If you do end up reading this, please come back and let me know what you thought. Maybe I’m over analyzing it, but sadly I think I’m not.