Cheap and Lazy's Reviews > Ashes in the Wind

Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
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really liked it
bookshelves: historical-not-regency, romance

Kathleen Woodiwiss Classic. If you’re unable to set aside sensibilities for a romance of this age (first published in 1979), find bodice-rippers in general, or cross-dressing heroines particularly distasteful or implausible, your reading time will likely be spent more happily elsewhere. Typical of Kathleen Woodiwiss, this is a long—nearly epic—tale.

For the rest of us:
I’m a fan of this author for several reasons, not the least of which is that she’s the mother of historical romance as we know it today. Without the bodice-ripper, we would not have the more socially acceptable versions being written now. Although she does wax a bit too descriptive and occasionally repetitive for my tastes, unnecessary scenes and characters do crop up from time to time, and her heroines are always intensely moral and hardworking (think Dickens), they are also intelligent and strong, and Ms. Woodiwiss’s overall story-telling is simply unparalleled. Additionally, I appreciate her use of varying perspectives within scenes to tell her stories more effectively. I’ve noticed this technique has become rare in more recently published books.

The Civil War background is both emotionally and impartially drawn (no small feat, that). The various roles young southern lady Alaina plays come through believably, especially through the eyes of our honorable and somewhat hapless Yankee doctor hero, Cole. The beginning, and most, of the story takes place in Louisiana (especially New Orleans), and ends in Minnesota. That the author was born in the former and lived many years in the latter comes through in the authentic details of the settings and the liberal sprinkling of dialects/accents of the respective inhabitants.

The story offers a core mystery well wrapped in several others, plenty of action, suspense, romantic moments (though not as many love scenes as readers like me might hope), and a wonderfully satisfying ending. I love that Alaina saves Cole’s life, twice (!), instead of the other way around. I think some of the misunderstandings and angst were drawn out, while others felt rushed over, but that’s a matter of my taste and perspective. All in all, I really enjoyed the book and recommend it to fans of Woodiwiss who haven’t gotten around to it yet (I can’t be the only one, right?) and any reader who wants to explore a classic of this era in romance.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 3, 2014 – Shelved
January 3, 2014 – Shelved as: historical-not-regency
January 3, 2014 – Shelved as: romance

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