by Kathleen Givens, historical (1999)
Dell, $5.99, ISBN 0-440-23568-5
My husband and I conducted an experiment with this two-book saga. We were suffering from food poisoning and were confined to our beds at the friend's place where we were staying. He started on Part 2 of the Kilgannon saga, The Wild Rose Of Kilgannon, which was more "action-paced", and I on Part 1, Kilgannon. He said that he could understand everything that went on in The Wild Rose Of Kilgannon, but complained that the book moves slower than a three-legged turtle high on illegal substances and the point of view was restrictive on the plot development rather than to enhance it. Sentiments that I would echo after finishing The Wild Rose Of Kilgannon, really. Part 1 is absorbing and fascinating despite its minor flaws, but Part 2 lost me somewhere around page 200.
The story revolves around the courtship and marriage of Highland laird Alexander MacGannon of Kilgannon and Mary Lowell, an English debutante. Kilgannon describes their courtship, which is cemented after Alex saves her from an assault by his rivals. They wed, move to Kilgannon where Mary charms Alex's two children from his previous marriage and adapt to life in the highlands. But lo, the Jacobite uprising soon sweep Scotland and the book ends with Mary weeping as Alex marches off to the sunset all set for war.
In The Wild Rose Of Kilgannon, Alex is captured by the English and is tried for treason. Mary turns to her former suitor and starts a campaign to save Alex. Or a death-watch probably, as Alex's chance of salvation gets slimmer and slimmer with the turning of the pages. Let me put on my best melodrama voice. Can love triumph?
Kilgannon is a better-than-average read, which is impressive for a debut author. When I read it, I thought the relationship was somewhat underbaked; these two people hardly know each other and they traded I love you too easily and too early in the book. Never mind, I thought, perhaps their love would be tested by fire and steel in Part 2, so I put that niggling doubt away. Mary's a rather wishy-washy woman with her convictions, and Alex is rather inscrutable, thanks to the I said this, I did this style of writing, i.e. it's all told by Mary to me. However, somehow I grew to care about these two people. There's an easy charm, I must admit, of watching these two fall in love so easily and their life together. When I put down Kilgannon, it was all I can do not to start a tug-of-war with hubby who was a slower reader than me.
Book 2 was where all the minor irritants began to pile up to cause a big mountain that really hindered my enjoyment. Alex was captured. Alex was rotting in the cell. It was Alex, not Mary, who was probably suffering all sorts of inner demons. Why on earth was I subjected to Mary's constant prattling and hand-wringing and weeping? There was so much I can read about a grieving wife before my eyes began to glaze over. I could accept the long separation, but I really wished I could read something about Alex instead of Mary's waiting in this place or that house and worrying and begging Alex to give up his cause again and again. In this case, the usage of a single point of view (a strength in Book 1) really choked Book 2. Book 2 was monotonous and repetitious, a pity as Book 2 was stronger in terms of plotting and was potentially the more emotionally satisfying of the two. Too bad the execution wasn't up to par.
Oh, and one really personal peeve with The Wild Rose Of Kilgannon: whenever these two get to meet, it's non-stop I love you. I love you forever. I love you. I love you. I LOVE YOU!. I know, they're grieving, and people don't use thesauruses when they are grieving. But I can't help it: I keep thinking of a big fat bloated purple turd of a dinosaur on TV that always go I love you, you love me, we are one big famileeee... Eeek.
Book 1 is very good, but really, Book 2 is such a let down. I can't help but to wish for a rewrite, because Book 1 raises my expectations so high only to let down considerably by Book 2.
Rating: 75 for Kilgannon, 67 for The Wild Rose Of Kilgannon
Kilgannon at Amazon.com
Kilgannon at Amazon UK
The Wild Rose Of Kilgannon at Amazon.com
The Wild Rose Of Kilgannon at Amazon UK
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