In 1676, an unlikely pair—a young Puritan widow and an English spy—journeys across a land where greed and treachery abound. Prudence Cotton has recently lost her husband and is desperate to find her daughter, captured by the Nipmuk tribe during King Philip’s war. She’s convinced her daughter is alive but cannot track her into the wilderness alone. Help arrives in the form of James Bailey, an agent of the crown sent to Boston to investigate the murder of Prudence’s husband and to covertly cause a disturbance that would give the king just cause to install royal governors. After his partner is murdered, James needs help too. He strikes a deal with Prudence, and together they traverse the forbidding New England landscape looking for clues. What they confront in the wilderness—and what they discover about each other—could forever change their allegiances and alter their destinies. --Amazon.com
I wanted to love this book, I really did. A widowed woman in Puritan times fighting to get her daughter back and getting a shiny knight on horse back for her troubles, what's not to love? The exhausting trip it took to get there. If you're going to read it, borrow it from the library or use Kindle Unlimited. Anything that won't make you grumpy about wasting time. Now I love me some historical fiction, most of the books I am going to review on are historical fiction or sci-fi/fantasy it's just what I like. This book gets a pass from me, in that I would add it to a pile of books for a friend but it wouldn't be a solo gift. It just doesn't stand up by itself.
The main male lead, James Bailey, is just wrong. He is supposed to be the other half of this story, the equal to Prudence Cotton. Yet he seems to simply be a seires of PADs (Plot Advancement Device.) Need to get past a guard? Use James. He has a magical (not literally) pass. Need to find your daughter? Use James. Need to get your stuff back from your brother-in-law? Now where did we leave James? He has his own specified mission and between right now after reading this book a couple of weeks ago and just writing this I couldn't tell you if he ever succeeds.(Edit: I checked. He sort of does, but in a backwards way that makes little sense) I could understand the shallow strokes on this character if this was a newbie's novel but the author has over twenty books under his belt. At that point, what's the excuse?
Leaving the characters to one side, trust me you can put them anywhere, the mystery/conspiracy side of all this was a bit too easy. I need a good mystery. Growing up on Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, I love a mystery with just enough twist for me to not realize the butler did it in the first few pages. The book is only 345 pages long and yet it manages to dawdle for the first two-thirds of the book and then rush to wrap everything up in the end. In this case the butler definitely did it and you can tell who the bad guy is right when he appears on the scene. I have to give props to the author though, he could have dressed him all in black and gave him a black mustache to twirl but that must have been too much.
I tried to love this book so much, I need good historical fiction. It doesn't have to be great, trust me I'll read the trashy Tudor novels, and the silly bodice rippers but give me something to sink into. This book toys with you. There were so many moments when I was on the verge of getting to a good part only to go a few more pages in without getting anything. It was the equivalent of eating a bread sandwich, Just a nice piece of bread between two other pieces of bread. Should I also mention that any hope of a non white bread character that anyone can relate to was killed off in the 1st half of the book? Yeah, thanks for that. Oh, he might be interesting. And now he's dead. Great.
This one gets a Meh Goodwill would take it, on a scale from holding up my trashcan to sitting next to my plastic skull named Bob. (Bob gets all the good books)
Freelance Editor & Reviewer