Ridley's Reviews > Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O'Connell
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Feb 24, 11

bookshelves: 2-star, ebook, read-2011, western-historical
Read from January 09 to February 23, 2011

I'll admit upfront that I read this book in response to its regular, suspicious pimping on the Amazon romance boards. No book out there has all five-star reviews, at least not legitimate ones, but I'd have to read it to know for sure. Now that I have read it, I'll say that maybe some of those accolades are honest. If you don't pay attention to writing skill or mind too much telling or info dump, the plot is compelling enough that a pure plot reader could enjoy a book like this just fine.

The action opens with a desperate, hungry and bedraggled Anne Wells on the run from her domineering father in 1880s Colorado. Determined to convince her to marry a much older man she finds repulsive, her father had locked her in her room and fed her starvation rations. Adamant that she will not relent, she'd taken off running the night before. She's just woken up on a pile of hay in a barn on Cord Bennett's horse farm and is ready to beg the man to help her escape.

Unfortunately for them both, her father arrives with a posse while she's in Cord's house. Enraged to find her with the half-Indian outcast, and with his chosen suitor's refusal to marry her because of it, he and some ranch hands explode in a fury of violence. Cord and Anne are married at gunpoint then savagely abused. While one man nearly rapes Anne, cutting her with a knife in the process, the other hands beat and kicked Cord before leaving him for dead. Content that he's left her a widow, Anne's father leaves her there to crawl back and beg for her family's help later.

Against all odds, Cord survived the beating, albeit just barely. Injured herself, Anne nonetheless musters the strength to drag him inside and nurse him back to health. Despite the inauspicious beginning and knowing their families and the community won't accept them readily, they decide to take the marriage vows seriously and try to make a go of it.

The plot itself is fairly compelling, although it relies almost entirely on external conflict. There's never a dull moment with these two. Between his loving but distrustful family, her openly disapproving and scheming one and a town full of naysayers, there's always some conflict they're fighting, sass mouthing or riding their way out of. It certainly doesn't want for drama.

Unfortunately, and I am honestly disappointed in this, what could have been a rather poignant tale of two people making it work despite the odds ends up being a lesson in poor writing and editing. Since the book is self-published, I don't know if she hired an editor. I'm going to assume she did not and ascribe many of the faults to that. A good editor would've recognized the potential in this plot while taking a red pen to the epic info dumps and the tendency to plainly tell instead of show.

As a result, the first third to half of the book is almost painful to read. I was so eager to keep reading it that I put it down for a month and a half, levelling my fishing and archaeology in WoW instead. It read like an extremely long and detailed synopsis rather than an actual story. She had a really exciting idea for a novel here, but took too long to start actually crafting it. Wooden characters vomiting bits of backstory do not an engaging story make.

Further bolstering my theory that this was unedited is how the writing changes and improves in the last third of the book. It was like I was reading someone's semester-long creative writing project rather than a cohesive novel. This was the author's practice run. She seemed to have trouble finishing it, lingering on a bit too long after the book-long father conflict arc concluded, but the writing was crisper, the dialog more natural and the characters more organic as the story neared the end.

The longer the book went on, the more enthralled I was with it. In the end, I liked the pairing of strong, quiet and gentle Cord with spirited, cheerful and determined Anne. The characters were generally well drawn, though I never did come to understand why Cord's brothers acted the way they did, beyond propping up the conflict arc. Ultimately, though, the dreadful first half drags the rating down. If you can look past amateurish writing for a good plot, then this book may work for you. As for me, if I didn't feel bound to finish and review it, I'd have quit a quarter of the way in.
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Reading Progress

01/09/2011
1.0% "Here goes. I can't promise impartiality, but I'll be honest." 4 comments
01/12/2011
2.0% "Holy info dump on Cord's backstory. Yeesh."
01/12/2011
15.0% "Ever see "Dude, Where's My Car?" This book reminds me of the drive-through scene with the "and then..." lady. So much telling going on." 3 comments
02/21/2011
40.0% "An editor would have made this twice the book it is."
02/21/2011
45.0% "While the plot is compelling, the book has been really hard to read. The telling and info dumping makes me want to just skim." 4 comments
02/23/2011
46.0% "I'm going to finish this today, so help me cod. I have a whole shelf of OOP classics just begging me to look up their skirts." 1 comment

Comments (showing 1-28 of 28) (28 new)

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Ridley Someone needs to write the scathing review.


message 2: by Tara (new)

Tara Ack! You scared me Ridley!


Ridley It pains me to actually give her money when I buy it, but someone critical needs to review this bad boy. I'll try to view it as a public service.


message 4: by Tara (new)

Tara All those glowing reviews. And I bet not one is from someone not related or a friend of the author.


message 5: by Dea (new)

Dea oh, I'm so torn! I really want to read your review but I don't want you to have to pay money for it. You're really taking one for the team haha


message 6: by Melanie♥ (new)

Melanie♥ Anxiously awaiting your review!


message 7: by Carrie (new)

Carrie All About Romance gave her second book...can't remember the name of it... a good review. I'm very interested in your review of this one. I've been too leery of the rave reviews to try it.


message 8: by Penny (new)

Penny Watson I can't believe you are reading this! I am waiting with bated breath to see this review...


Ridley My fishing's at 508 of 525...


message 10: by seton (new)

seton Bout time! I was waiting for my review :-P


Ridley Better late than never?


message 12: by Melanie♥ (new)

Melanie♥ I've been watching for your review on this one, too!


message 13: by willaful (new) - added it

willaful Excellent review. I read the first half free and was undecided about continuing, but will weigh in your opinion about it improving.


message 14: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Ridley, since the writing improved so much as this book went along, do you intend to try her second book? The one that got a good review on AAR.


message 15: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Nice review! It did sound like an interesting plot set up. Too bad the writing wasn't your style.


♡Karlyn P♡ Great review Ridley! While I gave it more like 3.5, you know we agree completely on this one.


Ridley Carrie wrote: "Ridley, since the writing improved so much as this book went along, do you intend to try her second book? The one that got a good review on AAR."

Since my TBR is currently a cosmic horror of epic proportions, I don't plan to, no. However, I didn't hate this book so much that I'd say never, either. I'd have to read through my TBR and forget what a twat the author was before I'd buy it, though.


message 18: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Got it. ;-) As someone with over 230 books on my TBR list here on goodreads, I get not wanting to add a possibly mediocre book to it. I might go through my list and weed out books I placed there but never seem to be in the mood to read.


message 19: by Rane (new)

Rane Excellent Review Ridely, still on the fence about reading this book as it's been on my TBR pile for awhile..may stay there a little longer...


Ridley Hmm.

Do I dare post this on Amazon? The indie cheerleaders will destroy my rating, no doubt.


Laura Do it do it! :p


message 22: by Noelle (new)

Noelle Great review Ridley! I'm glad you went ahead and read this book. I had wanted to until I got "to know" a little about the author through her posts on Amazon, I found her not very likeable and didn't want to part from my hard earned $$. =)


Ridley Posted to Amazon.

Awaiting indie author lynch mob in 3...2...1...


♡Karlyn P♡ Ridley wrote: "Posted to Amazon.

Awaiting indie author lynch mob in 3...2...1..."


Braver than me! I chose not to post mine there. But maybe I should...


message 25: by MelissaB (last edited Mar 04, 2011 06:44PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

MelissaB Nice review Ridley! You gave an honest review and were very fair. I am glad to hear that the author has some talent which may explain some of the posts (because I did see some by posters that I know are not shills) but I still want an explanation for all the random squeeing posts that seemed totally off the wall.


Ridley I think we can probably chalk the squee brigade up to a group of self-pub enthusiasts with a shitty understanding of effective viral marketing.


♡Karlyn P♡ Ridley wrote: "I think we can probably chalk the squee brigade up to a group of self-pub enthusiasts with a shitty understanding of effective viral marketing."

My conclusion too.


Jessie I agree with your review completely; however I would say that I enjoyed the first third more than the rest the book.


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