8 February 2013

Review: Rosa's Land by Gilbert Morris

Twenty-year-old artist Lafayette Riordan, known as Faye, decides to leave New York and become a marshal in Indian territory after a failed love affair. The Amazon blurb then says, “When faced with the opportunity to realize his dream, can he summon the courage to hunt down the outlaws? Or will one headstrong female rancher capture his heart first?”. Well, this is Christian historical romance, so you can probably work out the answers yourself without actually reading the book.

I found Rosa's Land very hard to get in to, which was a surprise as I’ve never had a problem with other books from Gilbert Morris. The opening scene focused on Faye’s father and brothers, yet Faye is supposed to be the main character. Rosa, the titular character, didn’t even appear until one-quarter of the way through the book, and she didn’t meet Faye until a lot later. The writing style felt as though it was targeting young readers, not adults. I also thought there was too much back story and repetition (particularly in the first half), and there were a number of distracting continuity errors.

On the plus side, the second half of the book was much better than the first, because it was here that we finally got into the story, where Faye finally gets a chance to prove to himself that he is a man. And the spelling and grammar were excellent throughout.

If this were a first novel by a self-published author, I might find it easier to overlook consistency errors, distant point of view, repetition, telling-not-showing, all of which are symptoms of an old-fashioned writing style. After all, I’d reason, a new author is still learning the craft. If they have the basic foundations of plot and character, their writing will improve in time. But Gilbert Morris isn’t a new author, which is why I expected better. According to Wikipedia, he’s been publishing since 1984 and has close to 230 published novels to his credit, including forty in his House of Winslow series, and more than eighty youth novels.

Perhaps that’s just the problem: with an average of over eight books published each year, that’s six weeks to write each book, which is an impressive output for anyone, let alone a man in his eighties. It just doesn’t allow time for revising and editing, for making sure that the facts are correct and the story hangs together logically.

And, in Rosa's Land, it shows. One comment on his website describes his work as having ‘an old-fashioned flair’. Well, his writing style is certainly stuck in the 1990’s, but personally, I didn’t see the flair. It took too long to get into the story, and there was too much information given at the beginning that was not relevant at the end of the story (although this is the first book in the series, so it is possible that the red herrings are foreshadowing future books). I expected better.

Thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Gilbert Morris at his website.

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