Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shadow Bear by Cassie Edwards

(warning: if you want to read this book in the future and don't want it to be spoiled for you I wouldn't read much of my review because I am going to spell out the entire plot for you.....it's my way of saving you. Trust me.)

Synopsis: South Dakota 1850. Before he died from the Indian arrow that pierced his body while he was hunting gold outside Fort Chance, Shiona Bramlett's father, the colonel, revealed a shocking secret. Now, armed only with her father's map and her courage, she's determined to honor him-and to fulfill her own destiny.
After a fierce prairie fire, Shadow Bear, Chief of the Grey Owl Band of the Lakota tribe, is desperately looking for his missing brother Silent Arrow. His search leads him to a beautiful woman in desperate need of help. Shadow Bear loathes the white man-but he cannot help but protect her. With a passion that is undeniable, they must learn to put their mistrust aside and share their secrets before all is lost.

My Thoughts: Hmmmmm after reading this book I have been trying to come up with something I liked about it and failed miserably. After 20 hours of thinking I just gave up. I might have decided this particular book was going to be bad before I started but as I was doing a challenge this month in which I had to read a Cassie Edwards book I stopped at my local library and grabbed one off the shelf. I purposely chose one not in her Savage series because in many years when I think back on the book I read of her's I didn't want to struggle with trying to come up with a Savage Something name. So, did I decide this book was going to be bad before starting. Yes. Did I still give it a go. Yes. Did I roll my eyes and throw my hands up in the air shouting ARGH! repeatedly? Yes. So without further ado let me tell you what I didn't like about this book....

The Characters--Ms Edwards has managed to write some of the most boring characters I have ever read about. Her descriptive words to explain said characters consisted of tiny, golden haired and violet eyed (Shiona) and dark eyed and long flowing black hair (Shadow Bear). Personality wise they were milk-toast. After losing her mother and brother in the same day Shiona did make a statement which lead us to believe she just might have a backbone yet when she needed one it seemed to have disappeared. Shadow Bear was not much better. I don't think I've ever read a book featuring an "Indian" who managed to lose his woman because he circled around his enemy too far ending up a bit lost and thrown from his horse in the process.

The Romance--What romance? 'You're my woman!' 'I would love nothing more than to be your woman!' 'Now I'll put my manhood into your warm wet place!' Ok none of that was actually said....except maybe the You're my woman part but you get the idea. Oh and typical of Edwards writing they fell madly in love in a day.

The Plot--What a crazy series of events for poor Shiona. First she and her brother leave their mother riding a stagecoach on the way to Missouri to go fetch the gold their father stashed in a cave nearby only to find that as soon as they separated their mother is murdered by an unknown assailant possibly an Indian because of the arrow embedded in their mother's chest. Oh No! First their father (see the synopsis above....father never manages to be in this book as he is dead and buried before the beginning) and now their mother. Shiona and her brother bury their mother and set off once again for that cave. But wait! There is a storm brewing and they could get struck by lightning! Whew! They managed to make it to the cave, gather firewood and eat some nutritious grapes (the biggest Shiona has ever seen!) that happened to be growing outside the cave. Shiona settles the horses into the back of the cave and comes back to the fire only to find her brother is not in the cave. Oh No! Oh wait there he is stumbling into the cave and falling onto the floor with (gasp!) and arrow in his chest. Somehow her idiot brother stepped out of the cave into a storm for just long enough to get killed by the same murderer(s) who killed their mother! Because neither one of them was smart enough to realize that maybe if they were taking shelter from the storm maybe the killer(s) did too. So Shiona then buried her brother in the cave. Outside the cave a raging inferno is blazing across the plain because of lightning. Once the rain put it out Shiona realized she is ill. But she never gets ill! Her parents and even the doctor who took care of her have always been amazed at her health and strength. She may be tiny but she is strong, like bull. While suffering from a near fatal fever she manages to save an indian brave Silent Arrow who (queue the ominous music) was shot with the same kind of arrow Shiona's family was. Silent Arrow makes it back to his tribe and his brother chief (Shadow Bear) and before fading into a long sleep manages to utter the simple word "Shiona". Shadow Bear after having been urged by his grandmother and her visions, he finds the cave and brings Shiona back to his people. And they lived happily ever after.

Ok no there was more but by reliving this book a sharp pencil in the eye is sounding better and better. Just know that there was so much going on in the plot that I'm surprised Ms Edwards has any ideas for anything else.

The Action--With a fire and a murder you would think that there would be action a plenty. Not so much. After being forewarned about the fire by his vision getting grandma Shadow Bear has his people dig trenches around the village to save them all. And it works. It worked so well that very little of the fire is even mentioned. No Indian Braves courageously battling flames as the fire roared towards their village and no animals stampeding across the plain to escape certain death. Other than a two line mention of two scorched tepees it was rather anti-climactic.

But what about Shiona's happily ever after? Well kiddies it was touch and go for a while. After Shiona finally found happiness (this was Shiona's thought after losing her family and all) with Shadow Bear she had to leave to save herself from the evil murderer. Oh how poor Shiona cried. She was just getting over the loss of her family and now this. Oh did I mention that because of her fever induced coma sleep she theoretically lost her mother and brother then fell in love the next day? Actually the timeline was more like this buried mother/brother on Monday, coma sleep Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday, Fell in Love on Saturday!

Oh but the murderer! Now there was a twist. Not one...but two possibilities of whodunnit. OMG what a dilemma! Either one could have done it! They were both horrible men so Cassie, please just kill them both that way justice will be done. Poof! Baddies gone. Shiona, poor orphaned Shiona has now found happiness amongst the Lakota tribe despite that they hate whities.

Final Thoughts (that may take another several paragraphs)--To make it more authentic the author has peppered her work with words that I am assuming to be Lakota. Unfortunately, even though she used the same words over and over again (brother, grandmother, grandson etc) she didn't include a glossary or quick guide. Instead she used the explanation during dialogue. For example if Shadow Bear was addressing his grandmother he would say "It is good to see you Unci grandmother." I already took the book back to the library so I don't actually have it for reference but google said Unci is Grandmother (on the mother's side). So anyway, essentially (here is where my anal personality comes out) Shadow Bear is saying "It is good to see you Grandmother Grandmother." This was through the entire book.

On a positive note (yes there is one) this was a quick read. The paperback book's font was large and there was barely 300 pages. The book itself was kind of mind candy. Not the good kind of candy though. If you have a bag of assorted jelly beans and eat most of them and realize you only have the gross black ones left....this book is the black licorice jelly beans. Now don't get all mad if you happen to like those....some of you might. You might also like this book. No accounting for taste is there (just kidding.)

Oh and there is a reason for my irritating and irrational use of exclamation points! Ms Cassie Edwards Loves Exclamation Points!!!!! They are used a lot. Not even when a character is shouting. I don't recall any exclamation points used during dialogue actually. They were all used during the times that the characters were having internal dialogue. So weird!

My rating--  One cup of coffee (exclamation point point!!)
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