Yes, it’s that week where I bury my reviews of the books I didn’t like in the hope you’re all having an enjoyable Christmas break and ignoring all the blogs (I’ll be back to my regular schedule on 3 January).
With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace.
Sounds good enough. So what was my problem? There were many.
First we have Perfect Peter. The guy has no faults … and while most romance readers want to (figuratively) fall in love with the hero, he has to be human. And humans have faults.
Then we have Mary Beth. Her problem is similar—it’s not that she’s perfect, and more that she wants what she can’t have. In her case, she wants her (dying) father to live. Okay, I can understand that from a human perspective. Her mother is dead, and she doesn’t want to lose her one remaining parent.
But that’s not enough of a motivation for a novel. The result is a passive character who goes through the story waiting for the thing she’s dreading to happen and not doing much. And that’s not an interesting read.
This is supposed to be a romance, but I never got the feeling Mary Anne had any feelings for Peter beyond friendship. And I wasn’t convinced Peter loved her as a wife. Their relationship seemed more like friends or siblings than potential lovers, and that’s a eww factor for me.
And then there was the editing (hint: books are edited. Financial accounts are AUDITED). This was the first book I’ve read from the new Elk Lake Publishing, and I wasn’t impressed. There were anachronisms, typos, redundancy, and punctuation errors. The writing was slow paced, the dialogue stilted, the scene transitions were clunky, and some of the action reminded me of Batman (the camp 1960’s TV show version, not the movies). I think they’ve done the author a disservice by publishing her book before it’s ready.
Sure, the subplot around the counterfeit money was interesting. But even that lacked suspense, and wasn’t enough to compensate for the other problems. Overall, this was a slow read, something I wouldn’t have finished if I was reading it for pleasure.
Thanks to Elk Lake Publishing and Litfuse Publicity for providing a free ebook for review.