This is actually more of a 4.5 stars -- and only because I will not be re-reading it quite as compulsively as Beautiful Bad Man or Eyes of Silver, Eye...moreThis is actually more of a 4.5 stars -- and only because I will not be re-reading it quite as compulsively as Beautiful Bad Man or Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold, which have become my go-to books when I am miserable with a cold in bed and need a comfort read.
I'm a sucker for character-driven stories, and O'Connell is wonderful at writing compelling characters and dialogue. This particular story has almost no sex (what there is is very elegantly done and well-integrated) but there is plenty of believable tension; the few action sequences are written sparely, with more emphasis on daily lives and relationships; and settings are lovingly researched. I am no specialist in the history of the West, but O'Connell's books transport me there every time, whether she's writing about the plight of the Apache, ranching in Colorado, farming in Kansas or the newspaper business and the arrival of horseless carriages in Kansas (the focus of Into the Light). Into the Light brings Hubbell to life through carefully chosen, gem-like detail.
This is the kind of romance that is powerful in its realism -- just two very likeable people falling in love with each other in a very sympathetic way. I tend to read a fair amount of paranormal, mystery and action novels, and I'm always thrilled when a new O'Connell book comes out because it helps me revisit a fresher, kinder approach to writing about real people (or at least, people who should be real). Also, let's face it, I'm more or less in love with all her male leads.
My only caution is for anyone in the mood for something fast-paced and action-packed: this is probably not the book for you and it isn't really trying to be. This is more like the endearing love-child of a cozy mystery and a Western romance.
I enjoyed Into the Light even more for the chance to visit with old friends from Beautiful Bad Man -- for a second there, I forgot Deborah's precise relationship to Caleb and Norah, and felt deeply betrayed at the thought that something violent and awful might have happened to them. Goes to show how attached I get to these characters I suppose ... on that note, I'll head off to re-read Beautiful Bad Man. (less)
Love it. Love everything about it (but not going to post crazy-ass gifs, because that would be entirely too fan-girly and undignified ;) And also, I d...moreLove it. Love everything about it (but not going to post crazy-ass gifs, because that would be entirely too fan-girly and undignified ;) And also, I don't know how to do it, and have no patience to learn.
In part, I love it because, having been (falsely!) accused by ex-boyfriends of thinking too much like a guy, I tend to sympathize with the male viewpoint :) I have a weakness for a well-written, convincing male perspective, and Halle does it brilliantly. Then there's also the fact that it's Dex, as pervy and marvelous as always. And ... here be zombies, as well as the usual gleeful, snide pop culture references!
Best of all, there is so much wonderful tension and mad revelations throughout this book, but it ends on a somewhat peaceful note (good thing, too, if we have to wait six months for the next one)! Thank you Karine Halle for having some mercy on us poor readers!! Of course, I'll still be chewing my cuticles, hoping things in the next one don't get quite as grim as the title suggests. My heart can't take the stress!
Semi-related rant on the paranormal and romance book world these days: I have to admit that I'm getting sick and tired of many of my favorite series (not this one, thank God) leaving beloved characters in an extremely dark space at the end of a book just to force us to buy the next one. The real world is really grim and hopeless enough as it is. I prefer my characters be compelling enough that I eagerly buy every new adventure because I love them and want more, not because I just got stranded 2/3 of the way through a plot with the ending however many months away. I'm sure it works for some people, but it just makes me angry and morose.
Complete cliffhanger endings don't usually inspire me to buy the next book in the series, because by the time it comes out however many months/years later, I associate that cranky, betrayed feeling with the series, which is never a good thing. It feels like waiting for the chord resolution in a favorite song and getting sudden static instead. When it happens often enough, you give up on that radio station.
Awful characterization ... just awful! None of these people's decisions make any rational sense or are consistent with what we are told (not shown, oh...moreAwful characterization ... just awful! None of these people's decisions make any rational sense or are consistent with what we are told (not shown, oh no!) about them at dreary length. And there is the bonus gift of a heroine with the decision-making skills and emotional maturity of a 12-year-old.
But don't worry, there's a monkey! Nobody ever came back from India back then without a monkey and the requisite colorful ethnic man-servant!!(less)
Now THESE young characters I'm happy to read even as a fairly jaded adult. There's too much goodness here to cover, but I'll skim the highlights:
1. A...moreNow THESE young characters I'm happy to read even as a fairly jaded adult. There's too much goodness here to cover, but I'll skim the highlights:
1. A strong, non-bitchy female lead who reflects on her actions, questions herself and grows as a person. And we get a male counterpart who is compelling without being the slightest bit abusive, obnoxious or pointlessly mysterious. Dear readers, the young man communicates! He actually opens his mouth and says important things that correct mistaken impressions, drive the plot forward, and give us a reason to like him!
2. A spare writing style that does a great job conveying creepy without edging into melodramatic. Pretty decent plot -- it may not be madly original, but the execution and pacing were fantastic.
3. No ridiculously forced love triangles. There may be the occasional sideline guy mooning over our Eve, but she respects herself and her emotions too much to play mind games with any of them or with herself.
Seriously, there are probably a lot of readers like me out there by now. I avoid love triangles in which your average brainless twit just doesn't know how to choose between the good boy who is her best friend and the mysterious boy who quickens the fire in her loins, or some such bullshit. Those are usually enough to shift a book from the "must-read" to the "consigned-to-the-dustbin-of-shitty-lazy-plot- devices" pile. Rant over.
Thank you Ryann Kerekes (and whatever powers inspired you) for tying up a story in one single well-written book! No pointless cliff hangers, no invented relationship barriers erected by sheer stupidity. This is just a breath of fresh air of a book that left me hugging a very confused cat in giggly glee.(less)
**spoiler alert** Grim confession: I read a fair amount of erotica, a lot of it edgy, some of it including non consensual. This is the first book in a...more**spoiler alert** Grim confession: I read a fair amount of erotica, a lot of it edgy, some of it including non consensual. This is the first book in a long time that has made me feel slimy, for lack of a better word.
In spite of the short length, both the male and female leads managed to alienate me completely: he by his honest belief that a woman is no different from a horse and deserves no additional consideration; and she by settling into sullen acceptance of that status. We're not talking sexy play, here, people! He's serious ... and it works.
And since this novella actually spans months, the reader doesn't even have the luxury of imagining this will ever change. Our heroine ends the book by continuing to despise her sexuality while immediately "loving" her baby and determining that she will continue to live for her child and protect it from being "sold" in turn. Not sexy! Now she's also delusional, since she also accepts that she has no power in this relationship.
Can I just say how much it interferes with the sexy fantasy vibe this was supposed to give me to imagine an unemotional, rigid and controlling abuser as father? Heck, what if it's a girl?
The "sold" idea is actually a fantasy I enjoy by the way. This just happened to read more like the fantasy life of your average abuser, with no redeeming characteristics other than him being good in bed, and then only because that's what gets him off.
The idea of being sold and slavery itself is taboo, which is why it can feel sexy. But it requires a sensitivity that this book completely by passed. We see a lot more feeling from animals in good literature.
Read this if you are into complete debasement with no prettying up, or enjoy reading the fantasy life of not-very-nice men.(less)