SJF Books, $2.99, ISBN 978-1310878749
Historical Romance, 2016 (Reissue)
This month, the theme for the TBR Challenge is my favorite trope. Well, one of mine is the star-crossed romance. Throw in a war and I am in heaven. Alas, the Go with Your Heart that I thought I would be getting isn’t the one that Savannah J Frierson ended up serving me.
About six years ago, the Civil War was still going on. Slaves Shiloh Ray and her brothers escaped to freedom, thanks to the aid of Nashoba, a soldier and a Choctaw. That sounds like a good story, right?
Well, too bad. The story is set in the present day of 1870, when times are more peaceful. Shiloh’s brothers have found love, and she helps to run a saloon that once belonged to a sister-in-law’s father. As the apparently sole sensible one in the family, she appoints herself to be in charge of keeping things civil and in tip-top shape in the Gilded Canary. Her heart is anything but in tip-top shape, however, when Nashoba shows up again. They once had a thing but then they didn’t anymore, and perhaps this time they will have something that is more permanent in nature…
Unfortunately, despite the possibilities in this story, nothing interesting actually happens! Nashoba is back in Chocktaw Territory to represent the Office of Indian Affairs, to help with the negotiations between the Nations and the new Confederate government. But this detail doesn’t really matter because this isn’t a political story – there is no nuance here, just some very simplistic “white people = bad” affectation. Not that these people aren’t justified in having such a belief, but I wonder why the author has all these details in her story only to apparently just give up and serve an unnecessarily simplified love story that could have taken place in any other setting and involved people of any other race or skin color.
The romance itself, which is a cozy and slow-moving one, suffers from the fact that this isn’t a long story, and perhaps consequently, the characters never feel fully fleshed out. Shiloh is a spunky ex-slave and… that’s it. Nashoba claims that he has many things to do, but he spends more time here feeling bored and wishing that he could do something more exciting. Baby, I wish the same – oh, I wish the same.
Sure, the writing is clean and the narrative style is fine. It’s just that nothing here stands out much. It’s pleasant but forgettable, and all the interesting details that the author sprinkled into the early parts of the story end up being merely window dressing. My heart says that this one is a bit too bland for my liking. The author could surely have done more with her premise!