Longshadow's Woman
by Bronwyn Williams, historical (2001)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29153-1

It's too bad for Longshadow's Woman that I happened to read it on a very lazy, sunny afternoon. I was bored, hence I read every word more carefully that I would on, say, a less idle afternoon. If I read it too carefully, this book's rather botchy writing becomes very evident. A pity as the story and the characters are well-defined and likeable, albeit stereotypical, ones. The execution, however, is botched.

Needless to say, I am not that surprised to realize that Bronwyn Williams is actually two collaborating authors. In this case, it really shows. It is as if Dixie Browning and Mary Williams are writing on their own and finally gluing the pages nilly-willy for the FedEx man to pick up. What else to explain the contradictions in characters and descriptions and plot?

Carrie Adams is a woman who has survived a lousy marriage (that's putting it mildly) to a much older bastard, physical abuse, and more. Now, she spends her days and nights playing Cinderella to her evil uncle. Still, she dreams of being her own woman, and to do so, she needs to grow some corns on her tiny piece of land, harvest it, and make some money on her own while her uncle goes off betting on horseraces somewhere.

Her mule Sorry just refuses to cooperate, driving home the fact that Carrie can't do this alone. She needs help. What better than to hire Jonah Longshadow, prisoner, for $2.00 to help her, right?

On his part, Jonah is a misunderstood half-breed who has undergone as much traumatic experiences as Carrie. Beaten, shunned, and now the final insult is he having enough money to buy a farm, only to be thrown into jail because hey, no halfbreed gets that much money unless he steals it, right?

They work, they bond over shared misery in life, and they fall in love. It could have been a moving story of healing, but egad, the contradictions in this story is annoying. For instance, is the woman in charge of the orphanage where Carrie was raised an evil woman or not? At one point, Carrie describes her being locked in a cellar to me. Than soon after, she's waxing about the woman's kindness. Okay, maybe hardships in her life has loosened some screws in her head. But still, such minor inconsistancies like this one distract me silly. Likewise, details mentioned previously are reiterated again and again and again and again. I know, I know, the only way to get Sorry the mule to move is to curse at him. I know, enough already!

Carrie and Jonah are wonderful characters. It is criminal how their story is bogged down by silly technical glitches. In this world of emails, satellite telecommunications, and fast transportation, it seems unforgivable that these two authors that make up Bronwyn Williams can't get their continuity and consistency right.

Rating: 62

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