Above and Beyond
by Jessica James
Publisher: Patriot Press
Page Count: 205
Release Date: August 15, 2013
How got: personal buy; via Amazon
First attention getter: liked author's previous work
Another timeless Civil War novel by award-winning historical fiction author Jessica James.
A romantic tale of two people thrown together by war, and torn apart by Destiny.
Confederate spy Sarah Duvall risks all to help cavalry officer Douglas Benton escape from the Yankees. Will his love be enough to bring her back? Or will a promise he made keep them apart forever?
Star Rating - 3
Like this author’s other work I’ve read, she still knows how to tell a dramatic and emotional tale. The reader is sucked in despite the pitfalls and down sides to the book. I zoomed through inside 24 hours, even despite being at work for 9 hours of the day; it was that engrossing.
The author keeps her skills at historical setting and details sharp. The harshness of battle and its effects see thorough exploration, not being softened for her readers. The tension of a territory constantly changing hands during such a harsh war comes through clearly. Sarah’s situation being caught between two sides makes the reader empathize with her and her struggle.
As I mentioned, the emotional draw for this novel doesn’t let up. Despite some other drawbacks interwoven with this aspect of the book, I still found myself crying, smiling, and feeling rage at all the appropriate places. The author has a real talent for drawing her readers into the story and never letting them go. Not every writer can do this. Ms. James has a special talent at it.
Now for those drawbacks… First off are our two main leads. They’re likable enough so that I can relate to them and be invested in their relationship (see emotional draw paragraph above). However, they are far too perfect. Constantly described as such, the reader is hit by a 2x4 in how many times this point is stressed. Brave, strong, gorgeous, pure, dignified, angelic… I mean, really?! Nobody is this perfect. And the point is driven home at least every other page…
I also felt the ending was drawn out far too long. We had the fantastic, suspenseful story going strong, like a runaway train on a downward grade. Climax hits, and the audience holds its breathe in anticipation of a great resolution. Then we get this book’s ending. The book drags its feet in giving us the closing scene, going from scene to scene expounding on how perfect our leads are and how they don’t feel like they deserve each other. It’s enough to make me grind my teeth in exasperation.
The book excels in setting and emotional draw, even despite the character and ending drawbacks. Yet, ending the book on such a note is a big bummer as that’s the closing the reader is left with. I was also glad to see these characters leave my reading experience. I might have loved their romance, but the people themselves would not have been people I’d like to know in real life. Read for the emotions if nothing else, though. Those are powerful and suspenseful enough.