Mary Jo Putney at her best–which is stunning!
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: May 30, 2006
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 384 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
I love this story! The empathic, sensitive, animal-healing hero is to die for, and I really love the heroine, especially her psychic abilities and the way the hero and heroine both love animals so much and connect emotionally and spiritually over this love.
MJP’s major talent is very much in evidence in every part of this story. I am in awe of her elegant use of flashbacks, the careful, believable, moving character development with great motivation, the extraordinary romance, friendship and passion between the hero and heroine. Also, MJP’s special gift, very much in evidence here, is interweaving the relationship between the hero and heroine with their relationships with their blood families as well as their “families of affiliation.” Particularly in this case the latter provides a welcome chance to revisit old friends in Rebecca and Kenneth.
I find the whole setting of the heroine’s incredible gardens enthralling, including her artistic ability with flower arrangements and “carving” bushes in the topiary and elsewhere. I love Meriel’s amazing tree house and the lovely image of the beautiful horse Dom gets her with hair the color of hers. The scene with the fox Meriel and Dom save is very moving, as is the relationship she has with her East Indian rescuer and his romance with an important subcharacter. So many riches in one book, I have to say more.
I experienced the prologue as incredibly powerful–what a fantastic hook! I myself never suspected for a moment who the villain is until the climax, but his evil is not at all “out of the blue.” Also well done is the interweaving of the theme of the castle ruin throughout the whole book. It serves multiple linked purposes, including the ultimate regaining of the heroine’s blocked memory. I am tempted to hazard my own response to the symbology here–that the castle ruin can be seen to represent (among other evocative images and metaphors) the heroine’s family roots, and a basic solidity in her core character that allows her to heal from the horrendous psychological trauma in her early childhood shown in the prologue. Conceptually, the castle ruin also provides opportunities for MJP’s wonderful, subtle wit, which shines throughout the book.
The plotting altogether is superb. For example, I love what MJP does with the madhouse and the way that the hero’s helping Ames’ daughter Jena leads to Dom later getting assistance to help rescue Meriel from the same place. I like the interweaving of what is happening with Kyle, the hero’s twin, with what is happening with Dom, the hero, throughout the book.
I found myself wondering about halfway through if Dom and Kyle are going to change places in the end as a powerful echo of their switching places throughout the book. So for me it is extremely well motivated and “organically cohesive” when MJP does that switch figuratively, in a believable psychological way, with Dom and Kyle realizing that Dom is very like their father, rooted in family and tradition and the land, and that Kyle is a natural wanderer. Kyle also realizes that only he has been keeping himself from following his dream and that he doesn’t have to resent anyone or anything for that situtation anymore–he can remedy it himself.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5