Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Norah Hess - Raven

When Raven's two-bit gambler husband ordered her to entertain a handsome cowboy at dinner, she didn't dare refuse, not even when she learned that he had promised the good-looking stranger a night in her bed for $1,000.
After their night of passion, Chance McGruder couldn't get the dark-haired little beauty out of his mind. So he was both tantalized and tormented when she showed up at the neighboring ranch, newly widowed but no less desirable. What kind of a wife would agree to sell herself to another man? What kind of a widow could make him burn to possess her? And what kind of man was he to ignore his doubts and gamble his heart that when she gave her body this time, it would be for love.

Comment: I don't exactly when or why I got books by this author. But the truth is, I had this one (and still have two others) in the pile to read someday. I decided to give it a go in November, thus my comment of this one. My pick was random, it could have been any of the three I had to chose from. I didn't have much expectations about it, but I still wanted to read a good story.

This is the story of Raven, a young woman recently widowed whose marriage wasn't the bed of roses she thought it would be. Before dying, her husband sold her for one night to another man for a thousand dollars. Raven went but she didn't think she would like the man who bought her. In the morning she left to be with her brother in his new ranch.
Chance wasn't happy to see that the woman who fascinated so much had left before he was ready to say goodbye. He looked for her but she was gone and he kept thinking she still owned him the rest of the night. So, what a surprise both of them get wen they realize they are neighbors for Raven's brother's ranch is right beside Chance's propriety...

This book was released in 1999. A long time ago in terms of books. At the time, the writing was more focused on certain themes and styles, the trend was still about the legacy of bodice rippers and this book shows the inspiration of those years. Of course, many authors showed their skill went beyond tendencies, but in this case, I think the author really wrote according to her taste and time. The book feels very set on the old ways, I think. Not just the theme, but the way it develops, the plot tactics and character's personalities.

The story has several elements that suggest old ways. Today, even in historical books we see a new way of showing characters, of developing the author's style seems dated and although this doesn't have to be bad, in this case I think it was just too noticeable for me. From the way Raven feels about her life, one moment she feels attracted to Chance, to despise him, to want him, to have sex with him, to hate him again, all without any coherent mind process. All characters weren't worked on much, in my opinion. All were set in a place to fulfill their roles but I never felt any of them were that strong, there were many hints about their characterization, but no one seemed more alive than what was described. 

Raven is supposed to be a strong heroine but her attitudes and change of ways weren't reliable. Chance apparently is more thoughtful but like most younger men in the story, he pretty much only thought lustful thoughts about a woman, Raven in his case.
Raven's brother Tory also had a certain love interest but he was portrayed as a playboy for the most part, I never had he feeling his behavior was more than just appearances.
Chance's stepsister, sort of, was one of the villain's and really promiscuous. We never know why only that other characters make fun of her for that.
This was the main problem in he book for me. The lack of depth in the characters, we see them act and we have an idea why but we never get into their heads for more than the basics. It was hard to create empathy with them and honestly I ended up not caring about them.

As for the plot, it was all pretty simple, but the writing wasn't engrossing or addictive. I think the author had an idea, she put it on paper and that was it. A sign of times but along with her own style, things didn't seem to mesh in the most effective way. Just my opinion. I guess I'll try to read one of the others one day to compare and see if this author will just not be for me. Despite all the things I couldn't help but notice, I still think it was a good effort to write and try to come up with an historical focused on romance.
All in all, good effort, but the result wasn't the best it could have been.
Grade: 4/10

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