Friday, September 10, 2021

Elizabeth Camden - Into the Whirlwind

After her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.
Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.
While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact?

Comment: This is the 4th book I read by this author. Back in January of this year I've read one I truly loved and, of course, I was hopeful I'd feel the same thing about this one but, sadly, I wasn't as impressed this time.

In this story we meet Mollie Knox, she is carrying on with the watch making company her father loved so much and she feels doubly invested because her workers are all men from the 57th company, of which her father was a member as well. Many of these men have some sort of physical or mental issue because of the war and she knows they wouldn't have a chance anywhere else but when a deal is presented to her with a very short time to decide, she feels stamped.
On the other side is lawyer Zack, a man who owes his studies and reputation to a very wealthy man who helped him but he knows the business isn't always as black and white as it could but Zack doesn't mind working the law in his favor. He has been attracted to Mollie for three years, since they became acquainted, and feels she could be someone he could love and cherish. 
However, in this critical time of their lives, a sudden event changes everything, for it's impossible to control the big Chicago Fire and all the devastation coming after it...

Reading the first pages, I was eager to keep going because the first chapter seemed perfect. Two protagonists who were slightly aloof towards one another, who had an opinion yes, but never had acted upon it to develop a closer relationship and now a business deal could finally be the push to change that. I imagined they would have some struggles, some differences of opinion and that would put obstacles in their path but in the end the romance would win it all.

As a matter of fact, though, the plot went on a somewhat different route. The fire acted as an impossible setback and made everyone deal with many hardships and Mollie certainly focused a lot of her time and attention on that. I can understand and sympathize with her need to be certain her company could survive, as well as keeping the livelihood of the employees. But the tone of the book went to a very bleak path and it seemed only bad things happened. Yes, I can also accept this, considering the fire effect but then... why setting this right during the fire year, perhaps similar issues could have been dealt more easily if the timing was another.

Sadly for me, this means the focus of the story was more on the differences between Zack and Mollie and why they didn't match but Zack kept seeing ways they did. I found this jarring, too much of a clash and from a certain point on I no longer felt eager nor curious to see how the relationship would develop. The author also included a third character and throughout some chapters, there was a certain "love triangle" vibe going on. I also knew this would end with Zack and Mollie together but I no longer felt confident in their relationship and wasn't as invested in believing it could work and last, no matter the scenes or wording used to convey that.

Mollie is a sympathetic character and Zack has his moments too. I could see how they are supposed to work but even putting aside the fact this is inspirational and we don't see passion or sexual tension scenes to help with cementing this aspect, I still hoped we would have more obvious clues they were a good match. But they clashed for too long for me to feel they wore worth it. The clash wasn't only about emotions or feelings but regarding the business and Zack's role in it which means their differences went beyond personal issues. It just felt the author decided they would be a couple and all obstacles would be removed, even though so much time was dedicated to precisely that.

All things considered, this was a story with interesting elements, especially the historical ones and the little details but the romance and some character traits just felt wasted or not used as well as it could. What felt like a promising romance to me felt flat in the end... which, looking back at my opinion on the other books by the author I've tried, seems to be her trademark. I suppose I lucked out with the one I read before this one.
Grade: 6/10

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