Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.
That said, here is my honest opinion of The Ruby Brooch, a time-travel adventure-romance by Katherine L. Logan which I finished reading Tuesday.
Characters: The Ruby Brooch revolves — maybe “swirls” is a better word — around strong, volatile Kit MacKlenna, heiress to a venerable and well-heeled Kentucky racing-horse ranch. Katherine does a nice job working Kit’s description and character traits into the narrative. Blonde, green-eyed, athletic and durable, toughness appears to be a defining characteristic.
She could ride a Thoroughbred bareback, but put her in a pair of strappy sandals and she’d get stuck in the mud. It wasn’t that she was clumsy. Just the opposite. Silly shoes couldn’t compete with her penchant for practical footwear. She lived on a farm, for God’s sake.
The time-travel story throws Kit together with 1852’s Cullen Montgomery, cultured Scotsman, attorney and wagon-master.
Cullen forged his way through the overcrowded campsites, shaking hands and slapping backs. Children hugged his legs and women offered plates of food. Kit had seen politicians work crowds, but this part-Highland-bard, part-American-cowboy seemed to have disarming charisma. She stopped twiddling and watched the ease at which he moved— relaxed, yet with an air of confidence.
The chemistry between 19th Century Cullen, who has all the chauvinism of the time, and 21st Century Kit makes for great reading. Though Kit keeps her futuristic origins secret, at least at first, she has trouble keeping her 21st Century attitudes under wraps.
I bet Montgomery is telling him I’m a helpless widow. The thought sparked a kick-ass reaction— a need to prove she was the least helpless female she knew. She tapped her foot and twiddled so fast her thumbs rammed together. As soon as I secure a spot on the wagon train, I’ll set Montgomery straight. She’d wager a sack of gold coins that she could shoot straighter, ride faster, and hum Bach concertos he’d never heard before. “Helpless. Pshaw.”
Katherine fills her story with plenty of interesting, sympathetic (mostly) supporting characters, including children and animals. As you might guess, Kit has a soft spot for animals and children.
Plot: Trying to recover following the deaths of her parents and husband, Kit’s world is further rocked when she learns that her own origin as a member of the family is in doubt. A mystical 14th Century ruby brooch heirloom permits Kit to travel back to 1852 and journey from Independence, Mo., to South Pass, Wyo. There, at the scene of a brutal slaying of an innocent family, Kit hopes to discover who and what she really is.
Setting: Much of the story takes place during the wagon train journey from Missouri to Wyoming across what was then the great grasslands and rolling plains of the young nation. As a Kansas resident, it’s one of my favorite parts of the country, and I was happy to see Katherine give it its due. Here, Kit and her horse Stormy encounter some of our lovely plains weather:
A mile from the wagon train, she rode smack into a dark shelf of clouds, hanging close to the ground and blocking out the daylight. No cover. No protection. She’d made a horrible mistake. Fear no longer crawled in her belly. It sprinted.
A streak of lightening shot through the sky and struck a tree several yards away. Stormy screamed an almost human shriek of terror, reared, and climbed the air with his forelegs. His hooves hit the ground ready to run, but Kit yanked the reins and turned him in tight circles. Her adrenalin went haywire. Her body knew what her mind couldn’t wrap itself around. This was about survival. She and her horse could very well die.
She rushed into a gully with sloped sandstone walls. The rain shafts turned thick and white. Within moments, hail would fall from the sky. Thunder rumbled through the gully.
It’s not all terror and survival, though.
THE VAST EXPANSE of the landscape stretched out before Kit in rolling swells. A carpet of bluestem grass peeked through the prairie thatch. The occasional turkey buzzard gliding through the air broke up the repetitiveness of the plains.
The story also takes us into elegant drawing rooms of both today and yesteryear, as well as into campsites and covered wagons.
What I thought could’ve been done better: Not much. This is a fine, professional work. However, I did notice a minor formatting problem in a few places throughout the book, where lines of dialogue that should be separate paragraphs get inadvertently run together:
“You said your mother gave ye the brooch. Tell me about her.”“ I think she died when I was a baby.”
Doesn’t occur very often, though.
Just learned that this has been fixed and new version uploaded.
I also wondered briefly about the “butterfly effect” — how Kit’s experiences in the 19th Century might have altered the present. For instance, when Kit lets Cullen listen to her Ipod, which I have to say I thought was cool, or gives him Tylenol. Perhaps timelines are harder to alter than we think, and small actions like that are easily absorbed into the greater history.
Just a thought, not a real problem.
I would’ve liked a little more about the ruby brooch itself. Such a marvelous artifact deserves it, I think. I believe Katherine plans sequels however, and perhaps the heirloom’s provenance will be more fully explored in them.
What I thought was good: Katherine’s writing is vivid and colorful. Here, the sparks generated between Kit and Cullen ignite:
His thumb circled her nipple, eliciting heady sensations that rolled through her body, producing a dizzying explosion of pleasure. He lowered his head and took her nipple into his mouth.
Sizzling heat twirled her in a Viennese Waltz of surrender.
I love that last line. Vivid verb plus colorful metaphor equals good writing.
I’m a guy, though, so what I really liked was the hand-to-hand combat scene, where Kit, an accomplished martial artist, takes on three 19th Century outlaws.
Without losing momentum, she turned, brought up her knee, and broke his arm, the crack loud and violent. Warm blood sprayed on her face from the compound fracture. Quickly, she snapped another kick behind his knee. He dropped.
A swift kick to the groin produced a gut-hollowing scream of agony. His eyes grew wide with pain and disbelief. She jammed her forearm into his Adam’s apple. A slow wet stain covered his trousers as he crumpled into a lifeless heap.
You’ll never touch me again, asshole.
As I’ve already mentioned, Katherine does a wonderful job bringing the frontier setting to life, complete with all the dirt, danger and attitudes of the 19th Century.
There’s plenty of emotional action too, and not just the ups, downs and misunderstandings of the romantic story. Katherine doesn’t neglect her supporting characters when it comes to dishing out fear, friendship, anger, love and worry.
Overall: Katherine has penned an exciting tale that transcends the romance genre and spills over into historical fantasy adventure. Protagonist Kit is indomitable yet vulnerable as she traverses history and territory in search of her origins. The Ruby Brooch delivers on all accounts, and in the end reveals that most precious of all time’s treasures — love.
Good job Katherine!
And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!