Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5168-0
Historical Romance, 2003
Laurie Grant’s Midnight Silk revolves around a less-explored area of the American Civil War history – the Confederate’s northern blockade that smuggles cotton into the South to allow the South to finance its war with the North. Unfortunately, one-note characterization fails to bring any life to this potentially interesting story.
Since they were kids, the overseer’s kid Bowie Beckett and the plantation owner’s daughter Maria Taylor have nothing but goo-goo lovestruck eyes for each other. But he feels that she is out of his league, so he never even tries to act on his feelings for her. His father – and hers as well – is furious when Bowie refuses to go to war, and this fury is still strong when Bowie returns to help Maria from a nasty man. Maria is now a woman, and she is no longer a spoiled belle. As Bowie and Maria go on a road trip filled with fun like evil snakes, evil men, and evl pity-party nonsense, can they find love?
Midnight Silk is like a long, long montage of action and rescue scenes, but most of the problems the characters face are a result of Maria’s apparent inability to make a decision that doesn’t involve making a martyr out of herself. The fathers are ridiculously loud and misguided that it is hard to take them seriously, and Bowie’s treatment by these men is more melodramatic in a ridiculous way than anything. The villain is just as bad. Bowie is the most decent of the characters, but even then, his “I am not deserving of her” one-note pity party gets old really fast.
With each character fitting into neat labels (the martyr in distress, the psycho baddie, the nasty parent, the hero with the familiar me-no-worthy blues, et cetera), this story doesn’t really succeed in engaging my attention. It is hard to take a book seriously when the characters seem to come from a template catalogue, and these characters are so flat and one-dimensional, they aren’t even entertaining in a campy way.
With an interesting premise and a flawed execution, Midnight Silk ends up coming off like an unfulfilled promise, I’m afraid.