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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Review: Harcourt's Mountain By Elaine Dodge

Harcourt's Mountain – Synopsis
Spring, 1867 

The western frontier of British Columbia hardly seems a likely place for romance. Filthy, terrified and confused, Hope Booker is waiting to be sold off the ‘bride’ ship. Luke Harcourt happens upon the sale. It’s not love at first sight, but he feels compelled to save her from a life of slavery and prostitution. To allay her fears of being raped by him, Luke promises never to touch her. Being a man of his word, this is a pledge he quickly finds almost impossible to keep. 

Battling their growing attraction to each other, they must learn to live together in the forests of the wild and almost unexplored mountains. They face white water, Indians, wolves, as well as a dangerous man from Hope’s past. 

No longer able to deny their feelings, their ‘happy-ever-after’ is shattered when a corrupt land baron forces Luke’s hand. Enraged at the man’s actions, Luke rides into town—and disappears. 

Alone and pregnant, Hope faces the prospect of the worst winter in ten years. The trauma of fighting off a hungry grizzly brings on labor, but the baby is stuck. Luke meanwhile wakes up on a ship bound for South America, captained by a revengeful sadist who plans to murder him. Luke’s chances of survival are slim. Can he stay alive and make it back to Hope in time?

Review: Maria Bradley 5 ✪ out of 5!

This is not a genre I would ever have considered reading as a rule (the word 'frontier' immediately conjures up a 'western' in my mind) but having spoken to the Author online, her colourful writing while commenting suggested a quick and interesting wit which spurred me on to investigate her writing. 

Well, what a surprise! The story of life on the western frontier in 1867 was not only a fascinating insight into a rugged and unforgiving lifestyle, but a glimpse into the character such an environment creates in a human being. The effort required to simply 'draw a bath' alone would be enough to limit my cleanliness to once a week! Don't judge me, it sounds really hard!

All historical advantages aside, I'll move on to the characters  involved: Hope – this young woman had me utterly engrossed and a little confused at the beginning as the Author intended I suspect. Her arrival on the 'Bride Boat' was rife with mystery and intrigue as the character herself couldn't clearly remember how she finished up being there. She isn't described as being particularly attractive or super-intelligent – she's just a frightened, mixed up young woman, and OMG do I identify with that on a whole other level! I liked her immediately and her desperation to remember became my own. 

Luke - Luke however was a different kettle of fish in my mind. Granted he took her as his 'bride' out of pity with no designs on forcing her to consummate the marriage, but at the back of my mind, I was constantly looking for a glimpse of a secret, underhand reason for his unselfish generosity. Holly and I both, were poised in ready for his pants to be slung on the chair and a wildly energetic leapfrog attack from over the bedposts! I won't give away the farm on that score, except to say that nothing unwelcome occurred in that regard. 

There are some amusing moments in this book that were entirely unexpected as other characters come into play. Holly's reaction to the visiting natives was one such event, when she greeted their quiet cantor onto Luke's land with a rifle full of buckshot and reduced her bed sheets to salt and pepper sieved cloth. 

The story moves on brimmed with adventure and written with beautiful clarification to every step. A growing love is peppered with the trials of life in the harsh, wild and dangerous environment in which they live. Human corruption gives birth to Luke's terrible disappearance while Hope is left in a woman's most vulnerable state – with child. Alone on the mountain with no idea where or how Luke is she struggles to find a way to continue with alarming and petrifying results.

I loved this book! I enjoyed every single word, and I will not be dismissing the word 'frontier or 'western' in a synopsis of a novel, so quickly in future. This is a unique and intricate story speaking as much about human nature as it it about spectacular scenery, danger and conflict! 

I'll finish with a sentence that spoke volumes to me as I read this unusually intriguing tale: "He didn't need complications. But complications were what made life interesting. Living almost demanded them."
Tell me, who in this world, does not relate to that?

Find Elaine Dodge Online
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Buy: Harcourt's Mountain

Gripping Read!!

Dragonman: Face of the UnknownDragonman: Face of the Unknown by Ted Lazaris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an edge of the seat story, which begins smack bang in the middle of an apocalyptic event. The end of the world is a topic which has intrigued mankind since the beginning of time, but in this story it is just the beginning; not the final annihilation of humankind. The foreign object hurtling towards the earth is merely the first sting of a battle that will consume the heavens above and the earth below.
The threat introduces the DragonMan; a superhero already living on our planet, with access to different worlds such as ‘Spellville’; and he is not alone with his incredible abilities, of which more are revealed as the story continues. His family, with which he runs the family business ‘Starr Investigations’, are also endowed with their own fascinating skills, which invite further investigations of their own. Other characters from Spellville include ’Plupee’ and ‘Dooley’ who add a little light comedy in the midst of such dark and dangerous occurrences. Another lead character is Nathan, who has no abilities except for his skill with a pen. Luke and Nathan's lives become intertwined in the midst of the first catastrophe, and when Nathan has a series of personal disasters, he seeks out their firm for help. Thus begins a rollercoaster of explosive tragedies, spectacular fantasy, and murder mystery. The Author leads you through each one in a well written, intriguing and captivating way.

In summary I would advise that you set the scene to read this novel. Get your cocoa, your pyjamas, and go to your private place; switch off the tv and ignore the kids for a while, and step into Ted Lazaris complex and fascinating world of the unusual, the bizarre, and the downright terrifying creatures you are about to meet.

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