by Jane Goodger, historical (1999)
Signet, $5.99, ISBN 0-451-40894-2
Hannah Wright is one unhappy woman. Her fiancé Allen has upped and disappeared into the fever that is the Gold Rush. What is a spunky lass whose captain father has molded into a wonderful navigator to do? Why, get a job on the ship of Captain James MacRae, all fiery Scots hunk, to San Francisco and find that useless man herself. As the Queen of England will say, James is not amused. He tells her she can be a crew member if her daddy says yes, thinking her daddy would never allow it of course. Guess what daddy says?
Hannah is soon attracted to James, and he likewise. Yet she craves a stable, constant man in her life, for she knows first hand the wife of a seafaring man means months of loneliness and worrying for her husband's safety. And James love the adventures of high sea too much to give it all up. Hence Hannah stubbornly insists on finding Allen, and poor lovestruck James just cannot understand why.
I understand Hannah's insecurities. I probably won't like it too if my husband's always absent and putting himself in probable dangerous situations. But I must say the characters aren't developed as fully as I liked. I never really know Hannah or James. Their relationship is more of telling than showing in my opinion. James is the worse of the two. When I first meet him, he seems to suffer from an inability to speak in a normal tone. James never say anything. He shouts, roars, cries, rages, and on land too. Maybe all those shouting over the loud crashing waves has affected with his hearing a bit?
Another thing, the sentences in this book are mostly staccato or simple one-subject one-predicate structured. In exciting seafaring action scenes this style works - perfectly. In fact the sailing scenes are very good (I can almost smell the salt in the air and feel the ground roll with the waves!). In emotional scenes, however, things don't work that well.
Surprisingly, for a minor character, Allen is the most well-developed character. Is Miss Goodger planning a book for him? He's an intriguing man, I'd love to know more about him. Bankrupted, desperate to regain his family fortune, he has gambled away dignity, soul, and happiness. He is much more interesting than loud, blustery James who has no clue that his persistence on facing new challenges and excitements is costing him Hannah. In fact, come to think of it, he's a bit of a lummox. Miss Goodger never let me delve deeper into his psyche. James is brash, restless, loud, and nothing much really. I worry for Hannah's hearing in two years' time.
Into The Wild Wind is pretty exciting if romantically uninteresting fare.
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