You are absolutely right – I did say I was not going to review any more historical romance novels, but I was just so intrigued by Rebecca M. Gibson’s woefully written “Diamonds Fall.” I’m not saying I’m going to re-introduce this genre into the reviewing fold, but I’m sure glad I did make an exception for this promising, young author.
As with today’s fascination with all things historical, from Outlander to Penny Dreadful, Diamonds Fall is a cohesive work that presents atypical heroes and heroines, each with their own set of flaws and strengths. The protagonist in Gibson’s book is Annabel Maria Hoddington, a girl born into high society, whose life of luxury has been ripe with extravagance and luxury. However, that all suddenly changes when she is kidnapped and held hostage in a remote village that is literally the antithesis to the ways of life Annabel is used to. She soon finds herself having to live the life of the impoverished and disenfranchised, forced to live with three siblings who have their own set of problems.
I don’t think it would be necessarily fair to describe Andrew Joyce’s Molly Lee as historical fiction. Sure enough there are elements of a Wild West historical era that plays out in the backgrounds of the lives that are unfolding as the pages turn, but Molly Lee is more than the aforementioned genre. It’s a fusion of styles and formulas that have resulted in a new kind of hybrid of storytelling: the mash-up spaghetti western.
Joyce’s expertly crafted Molly Lee is almost like a character study in heroism, replete with flaws aplenty. Choosing to have a female protagonist instead of the usual male-dominated one in these types of genres is the first clue that Molly Lee is unlike any other character you’ve ever met before. She’s stubborn and gutsy, dedicated and passionate. It’s funny that these traits are used to describe Molly Lee since they are the usual traits that describes many, many male-centered pieces of literature, but what makes you different is what makes you special.
Ok, I have to be real for a second. Historical Romance is not really my thing. I mean, I LOVED Gone with the Wind and I like Outlander well enough, but I sometimes find the genre a bit trite and heavily formulaic. However, reading Monica Miller’s Threads of Betrayal has caused a semi-shift in my thinking towards the popular genre. Avoiding the jargon that comprises so much the Outlanders of the world, Miller presents a refreshing take on love, happenstance, and survival.
The Cockney Lad and Jim Crow, the newest book from trial lawyer and novelist John Sharer, is a classic example of master story-telling. It’s a delicate but effective take on the still controversial topic of racism in the southern USA. Despite being set in 1950, the novel itself still contains elements that are unfortunately still at play in various areas of the world, just as turning on your television to the daily news will be apt to tell you. But instead of merely reiterating a news-like piece, Sharer has created a work where the goals of redemption and acceptance are on the forefront the person al journey befalling the books protagonist, Peter Mason.
Having already written two growing book series’, author Joyce Strand deftly tries her hand in the historical mystery genre with “The Judge’s Story.” Full of characteristic “Strand-isms,” “The Judge’s Story” uses layers of intrigue, tumult, and deep-seated racism in a small Californian town in 1939.
At the cusp of the Second World War, the climate of “The Judge’s Story” is rife with tension and a sense of dangerous foreboding. The book’s stoic protagonist, the titular ‘Judge’ is faced with yet another violent case to preside over. The case itself is standard enough: a boy is involved in a robbery that ends in bloodshed. However, the Judge soon discovers that the boy, while indeed involved in the fatalistic events ultimately resulting in the loss of a life, is not being completely forthright. His involvement is not so one sided. Seeing this, the Judge attempts to bring justice to the accused boy whilst maintaining his position as a neutral purveyor of justice.