White Horse Point by Andrews & Austin
I’m really undecided on my rating for this one. I liked the whole of the book, but when I start thinking about the parts – they detract from the whole and I’m trying to figure out what I really think about the book.
Taylor James, famous mystery novelist, is struggling with writers block and her agent convinces her to leave New York and spend the summer at remote cabin to re-start her writing libido. Taylor is a bit of a fish out of water – she’s rather dapper and urbane and the community she arrives in is an insulated north woods community where everyone knows everyone’s business. As she settles in she begins catching glimpses of a mysterious young woman who quickly piques Taylor’s curiousity – and seriously, someone riding her white horse across the lake is something that should pique curiousity. This has elements of a later in life coming out – Taylor is straight until she seems to become obsessed with Levade (but really, she’s so damned dykey in the fist scene wearing a suit and tie for pete’s sake!), some paranormal elements with ghosts and strange goings-on, some mystery and some suspense.
From a writing perspective, this was really well written – I liked the style and the voice of the authors. The flow and pacing were great. There’s a nice bit of humour, mostly in Taylor’s inner monologues, interactions with other characters and the banter with Levade. The “danger” element of the plot actually worked quite well – there’s an insidious build up that starts off with an seemingly innocent encounter and just feels off as the story progresses. I really appreciated how the authors paced it out and didn’t slam you over the head with obvious cues.
The characters, both main and secondary, were well drawn and believable with a certain level of quirkiness thrown in for good measure. Every one of the townsfolk were memorable and distinctive – rather than going down the path of stock stereotypes, they were tweaked and given their own history that gave them depth.
This is probably categorized as a paranormal romance – but the paranormal is light and non-intrusive so it should appeal to a wider audience and not put off those readers who “don’t like fantasy”. The paranormal elements (a helpful ghost who pops up with sage advice on occasion and some veiled precognitive or clairvoyant abilities) accentuates the overall story by adding a bit of wonder and mystery. There’s just enough to keep you guessing but it doesn’t rely on the paranormal elements to move things forward or require any worldbuilding or significant suspension of belief.
From the romance perspective, it’s a soulmate story but has a bit of a different take on it and a bit of a longer road than normal – the women are pushed together, but it is done differently than most of the books that rely on this trope. They may be destined for one another but two women seem to spend an inordinate amount of time with the whole push/pull.
So what of the parts didn’t match up to the whole?
The romance between Taylor and Levade – there’s a build up (mostly one-sided) as the seemingly straight Taylor pursues Levade (the elusive woman who seems to be able to disappear at the drop of a hat). At times Taylor acts a bit stalkerish and seems completely obtuse about her sudden obsession with watching/following/showing up on the doorstep of Levade. It didn’t seem to be a promising beginning. If you compare Taylor’s initial interactions with Levade to either Frank’s interactions with Tayor or the law professor’s interactions with Taylor – they are all kind of the same, but it seems to be okay when Taylor is the the instigator.
I really liked the characters except for the times I didn’t – Taylor is engaging and funny – but she was erratic or contrary in her choices, actions and reactions; especially once she ends up in the Northwoods. It’s a bit like her common sense checked out when she got off the plane. Levade, on her side, keeps dropping prophetic and mysterious non-sequiturs and disappearing into the night. She was almost too ethereal and all knowing – making decisions on Taylor’s behalf. Don’t get me started with the handsy law professor – you would think someone in her position would know a thing or two about consent and crossing the line.
At times, the book seemed almost overwritten and overpolished – with metaphors and close to purplish prose, Taylor’s inner dialogue going just a bit too far and Levade’s mysterious but seemingly all knowing wise woman in the woods getting to be a bit too much.
But I still liked the book while I was reading it – I’m just not sure that I was completely comfortable with some of the plot and character choices.
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