Out Of The Mist
by JoAnn Ross, contemporary (2003)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-6473-7

This is yet another book I've read that will be good if the author hasn't tried so hard to create a ridiculous thread that will give her an excuse to create a trilogy instead of a few standalone books. I don't mind authors writing series of related books, but I draw a line if this leads to ridiculous plots or the proliferation of annoying matchmaking family members that only add noise to the main storylines.

Documentary director Ian MacKenzie and gallery owner Lily Stewart are actually from two families that are supposed to be feuding with each other even when they are now in Tennessee instead of Scotland. Ian is charged by his grandfather to steal a brooch the man claims that Lily stole from the MacKenzies. So he comes to Stewart's Folly to get the brooch while under the pretense of making a documentary about the upcoming Highland Games. Lil isn't so sure about that, as Ian's documentaries are mostly about Doom and Despair and Bleakness, and you sure don't associate Doom and Despair with the Highland Games, right? However, soon she and her family (including two sisters that will get their books next) succumb to Ian's charms and he they. Ho ho, how will Ian wiggle out of this one?

The plot is ridiculous. The grandfather should be thrown in a lousy nursing home - that will teach him. Ian and Lily come off as silly creatures to kowtow to the ridiculous and unreasonable demands of the patriachs of their respective families. Their actions that set in motion the whole story don't gel with their otherwise intelligent personality, hence my annoyance. In a book set to a better story, Ian and Lily will be two likeable characters falling in love. The author seems more intent on selling me the cast of her upcoming books than to focus on the characters in this book (after all, I've already bought this book - time to persuade me to buy the next book!). To top it off, there are some dull rambling chapters devoted to the history of the brooch. I am trying to forget about the silly brooch so having to read about it is not exactly my idea of fun.

Out Of The Mist could have been a good book if the author hasn't treated this book as if it is part of a "collect all three" Happy Meal promotion. Books are not toys, I buy books because I want to enjoy the stories, not because I like buying anything with the author's name on it to decorate my house. I can only hope JoAnn Ross manages to deal with the preposterous setting of her trilogy in a more palatable manner in the next two books of her trilogy.

Rating: 68

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