Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review- Nightshade by Ronie Kendig

The Sitch:

Nightshade starts fast: literally. One minute you’re reading the Seal Creed, the next you’re eavesdropping on a super-secret meeting between powerful men, and then, suddenly, you’re racing down a lonely highway on a motorcycle with Max Jacobs, an ex-military hotty with a death wish.

(Wow. We’ve covered a lot of ground in a really short time. But back to the hotty on the motorcycle, right? Because this, of course, is Edgy Inspirational Romance.com and I bet “hotty” and “motorcycle” grabbed your attention a lot better than the two powerful dudes having a meeting.)

For those of you who go for the brooding tortured hero type, Max Jacobs, former Navy Seal, could be your man -- except for one annoying little detail: he’s married… sort of. Separated from his wife and on the fast track toward divorce, Max is angry, alone, and… hopeless. Max’s anger is what has sent his marriage to Sydney, a journalist, to the latrine. Max now sees himself as unchangeable, unemployed, and unworthy -- he has lost all will to live. So he pegs his speedometer and hits the pavement. Literally.

Enter a big, Jesus-loving cowboy (also ex-military) who shows up at the site of Max’s motorcycle crash with an intriguing offer – join an elite team of discarded heroes (codename: Nightshade) to right wrongs and rescue the innocent.

And so it begins….

How it hit me:

Like an action flick from the late 1980s – with a little behind-the-scenes footage.

In other words: this story had satisfying action scenes but (thankfully) steered clear of the over-the-top testosterone and Stallone-isms so common in those semi-ancient films. But – and this was a BIG “but” for me -- although I found the military guys way more believable and human than the heroes of old action flicks, I found our main gal Sydney to be something of a weak-willed heroine who I couldn’t quite respect. Not to mention that I kept picturing her with big, frizzy 80s hair no matter how many guys in the story thought she was beautiful. (Once I get on the 80s action flick train it’s a long time before the next stop, I guess.)

But at least our “heroine” was consistent. Over and over Sydney’s inner thoughts showed that she knew the right thing to do, but she just couldn’t self-actualize and actually do it. Finally, forced by circumstance, she does let herself be rescued by the big-muscled men. Hooray! Maybe this was realistic, but… I was hoping for a dose of girl power and Sydney let me down. I wanted Sydney to become stronger, wiser, and bolder, but throughout the novel she remained consistently (and mildly cluelessly)… waffle-like.

What made me squirm:

On a personal level, I probably squirmed a little because I realized that, unfortunately, sometimes I’m a bit waffle-like myself. Sometimes I even bring my own syrup. But, uncomfortable introspection aside, on a technical level I must admit that, for a little while at least, I wasn’t sure I would like this book at all. The first few chapters shift the reader’s point of view between several characters (many of whom I do not even have time to mention in this review) and I found this a bit distracting; but as the character’s individual voices developed -- and I think Ms. Kendig does an admirable job developing these distinct voices -- I found it much easier to shift my imagination between locations and points of view.

To read or not to read, that is the question:

If you’re looking for romance, you might want to look elsewhere. This book deals with the darker side of love relationships: the one that comes with blood and pain instead of hearts and flowers. There is love to be found here, but not much romance. If, however, you would like a book with page-turning action, a movie-like plot, and a sprinkling of the inspirational, I would recommend this title in place of your Saturday night adventure DVD.

And finally, in the words of Inigo Montoya,
“No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

Although I found this novel a little hard to sink my teeth into at the beginning, I found it extremely engaging once the action took off. If you, like me, are a bit of an action-flick-junkie, try bypassing your local Blockbuster next weekend and fill your Amazon cart with Nightshade, the first book in Ronie Kendig’s Discarded Heroes series, instead.

Serena's Rating:

Reviewed by contributor Serena Chase
Follow Serena Chase on Twitter @Serena_Chase


  1. Serena- You had me at "hotty." Thanks for another entertaining review! :)

    I know some of our favorite book bloggers loooove Ronie's books. If any of them want to leave links to their Nightshade reviews in the comments, feel free.

  2. Hey Joy and Serena! Joy, you know I'm a huge fan of Ronie's work so here's a few links of mine!

    Character interview with Max

    Character Spotlight on Max & Syd

    Review of Nightshade

  3. Thanks for the great review! I'm unsure if I'd try this one, but I appreciate your honest thoughts on this book. I will definitely go check out this new-to-me author. Happy Tuesday! :o)

  4. Thanks for the links Rel. I noticed on Ronie's blog the other day she revealed the photo of her newest hero. I'm pleased to see he's African American. I've been looking for some romances starring characters of color. So maybe I'll check that one out.

    @Larri- Ronie's name comes up a lot with authors like Dee Henderson and Irene Cannon. Have you read any of their books yet? If so, you might like her work.

  5. Hi Joy! Nice review. I adore Ronie Kendig's books and I love them for the action, suspense, faith elemeent and a touch of romance...but if you're looking for a pure romance book, you're right, this might not be the best place to start. :)

    If you did enjoy this one though, you need to read the next one in the series, Digitalis. I reviewed it on my blog and here's the link. I loved it! http://jsbofferding.blogspot.com/2010/11/book-review-digitalis.html

  6. "to the latrine" hahaha! I am covertly reading this blog post in the staff room and had to keep from snickering. Great review!

  7. Thanks for the comments, all! -- and thanks for the link, Sara! And Joy, I knew you'd go for the hotty on the motorcycle! ;-)


  8. "And finally, in the words of Inigo Montoya,
    “No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”" That made me rofl! I love the Princess Bride. Thanks for giving an honest review. I loved it and yes, yes you did grab me at "hottie" and "motorcycle." :)

  9. Thanks for the review. I have trouble with constant POV shifts.


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